Buying a home can feel remarkably similar to being pregnant.
There I said it. I can hear those pregnant pauses now. Groans welling up from today’s studio audience. As a gender-related note of apology, I promise to pass a large kidney stone in the future just to make amends.
First, there’s the obvious. The timing is right. The stars are aligned. The seed of an idea issues forth out of a gleam in the eye and suddenly something inside you takes hold. Out of the blue you are on the cusp of one of those great journeys in life. A transition that is both exhilarating and a little scary. Part of you tries to grasp the whole notion of what it means to leap into this particular variation of the unknown. There’s an inkling that things are going to change in ways you can’t even imagine yet but it’s all a bit abstract at first. Am I talking about buying a home or having a baby?
The inception of the idea is followed by a long gestation period, as that initial spark of desire begins to grow and take shape. No one conceives of buying a house one day and then simply runs out to make it happen the next. Real estate isn’t designed to work that way. And even if it could, most people need time to adjust to the whole notion of buying a house. What will it look like? Will it be a boy? Girl? Ranch style? Victorian? Buyers, just like future parents, imagine a million different scenarios in their heads before what actually comes to pass, comes to pass. There are early, formative stages of development along the way that everyone has to go through.
The obvious aside, here’s the way that buying a house is most like being pregnant… Expectant mothers as well as expectant buyers will all recognize this particular phenomenon. Moms, do you remember how, when you were most obviously pregnant, total strangers seemed to think nothing about coming up to you in the middle of a public place, completely ignoring whatever sense of boundaries or personal space you might have, in order to reach their hands out and feel your belly?
In addition to the physical intrusion, most of these same people were incredibly eager to launch into their own detailed accounts describing the good, the bad and the more than you ever really wanted to know, of their birth experiences.
It happens all the time. Well-meaning people just can’t help it. There’s some deep archetypal connection they feel that makes them blurt things out without considering the appropriateness of what they are saying. Does an expectant mother really want to hear about 36 hours of grueling labor and all the things that the delivery doctor should or should not have done?
Now step into the metaphorical maternity shoes of a buyer going through the growing pains of looking for the right home, making an offer, being in escrow, having inspections, wrangling with the lender – ” the full catastrophe” as Zorba the Greek might have put it .
See if you don’t recognize the distinct variation on a theme.
Announce to the world that you are buying a house and suddenly friends, relatives, cube-mates, acquaintances and a boatload of imperfect strangers are popping up everywhere, coming out of the woodwork to insist on offering you their own unsolicited reams of advice about this, that and every other thing that they may have experienced themselves while buying their home. No detail is too small. No fear is too big. No odd, weird or completely crazy story is too odd, weird or crazy. Jeckyll and Hyde tales abound – ad infinitum ad nauseum.
People who have been down the road to home ownership before seem to view themselves as kindred souls. Defacto experts with a deep, misguided sense of shared experience that gives them unspoken permission to recite the Home Buyers Bible – chapter and verse.
Dig in Buyers. There’s going to be a deluge of unsought opinion, un-sage advice, out of context comment and rampant recommendations coming your way. It’s going to make your head spin until you think you are on the verge of doing a Linda Blair.
If you let it happen that is.
What’s the best advice for buyers trying to birth a new home? Don’t tattoo it on your forehead. Keep it to yourself as much as you can. If it gets out, turn down the sound. Tune out the armchair quarterbacks. Just say no to all those that want to relive their buy-gone days through you. In the end, if you really want to own your own home you have to start by owning your own process. Become your own mindful midwife. It’s going to be your baby, not anyone else’s.