You’re panicked. Are we going to run out of money? You can’t sleep at night. What if the neighbors are horrible? And you’re a wee bit on edge. My husband had better agree with these paint choices or I will lose my mind! If these are your symptoms, you have a classic case of House-Purchasing Anxiety. And no wonder: Obtaining a large mortgage is ranked as more stressful than having a child leave home or trouble with the boss, according to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, which measures pressure-filled situations. “The stakes are extremely high, and you’re afraid of making an error that might jeopardize your purchase or be costly,” says Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist in New York City. So how can you find some peace of mind?
Don’t get in over your head. Much of the worry felt by home buyers comes from buying a property that they can’t afford, says Stephen Habetz, a vice president of mortgage banking at Darien Roway-ton Bank, in Darien, Connecticut. To reassure yourself that you’re making a smart move, use the mortgage calculator at Bankrate.com.
(REAL SIMPLE: The Best Time to Book Flights)
Choose your real estate agent carefully. “It’s her job to help you process the anxiety and work through any surprises that come up,” says Eric Martell, an Orlando, Florida–based real estate agent who has a Ph.D. in psychology. To determine if a real estate agent will be a good match for you, ask these questions: How many people have you helped to buy a home? What do you do when a seller is difficult to work with? How will you keep me and my spouse calm through the process? If her personality doesn’t fit yours, find another agent.
Have a timeline. “Plotting out the steps to take—and when to take them—will decrease the chances that you’ll be surprised by how much work is involved in buying a house,” says Clayman.