Tag Archives: Buying a New Home

Under House Arrest?

CageDoorHere’s a short meditation on change for buyers or sellers who are feeling a little stuck.  There’s a lot of that going around these days.

Prevailing wisdom says there are no two ways (or even three or four ways) around it.  Change is scary. But is that really true?

Something hit home with more clarity this week while I was in the middle of moving to my new Real Estate Home at Sereno Group: It’s not real, actual change itself that’s scary.  That’s a clever illusion we get used to entertaining.

Or perhaps an obfuscation that you/we/I  manufacture to make it harder to wander outside the perimeter of our own tightly-constructed brain maps. Past the established fence line in our own backyards.  Towards the great unknown that looms large like a dark ego-less abyss without any apparent handhold to grab onto or solid ground to step up on. Mostly because we haven’t actually had the chance to integrate the new-ness into unconscious loops or comfortable self-definitions yet.

It’s really the thought of change that’s the most scary thing.  The yet to be experienced prospects of change. The future imagining of what change might be like.  The embracing of the fear of fear itself that’s most fearful.

On autopilot, we often erect elaborate obstacle courses full of “what ifs”  in our heads. One’s that seem too tough or insurmountable.  That run us around in circles.  That obscure our sight.  Wear us out.  Test us on levels we didn’t necessary volunteer to be tested on.

What if I get an offer on my house but can’t find another place to move? What if I buy a new house and lose my job? What if prices go up? Or down? What if I can’t stand the freeway noise? What if the neighbors are too loud? The list of what-ifs could/can go on forever. Ad infinitum.

And that’s what’s truly scary. The absurd lengths that so many of us often go, to avoid change.  That’s the most insidious of all the bogeymen-creatures hiding in our closets.

When people are struggling with change, something odd becomes apparent.  Doing nothing does exist as a default selection on the spectrum of choice.  In other words, not choosing is a choice too.  It’s  “None of the Above” on the multiple-choice test of life.

What is it about us that makes it so much easier to do nothing and remain content to spin our wheels in the same place rather than move forward into full engagement with a new and different place (Perhaps a really exciting and life-affirming place simply because it is new and different) ?

That brings us to what’s so great about working in real estate. It’s a core thing that goes way deeper than status or success or the desire to pay the mortgage on our own homes.  It’s the privilege Realtors have of being regularly invited into people’s homes to share in their most intimate processes/struggles/triumphs around change.

Twenty-three years now and counting.  And I have yet to work with any buyer or seller who wasn’t going through some major transition.  Home is inexorably intertwined with every passage in life. Home as a metaphorical extension of self and home as an actual physical exoskeleton erected around us.  All the biggies: birth of twins, death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, coming of age, empty nester, health, job loss or promotion…

Realtors don’t always feel privileged every minute of every day of course. There are times we feel like throttling a client when the bad and the ugly of their human nature eclipses the good.  Or stupid human tricks become the temporary special du jour.

But that’s what makes it more rewarding on those frequent when we help/witness people summon up courage and navigate past their fears. Maybe in the form of  a first time buyer rising to the occasion. Or a recently widowed spouse finding a path forward.

Brain maps are like ankle bracelets for minimum security offenders.  Doing the time isn’t that bad. The three hots and a cot can be pretty cushy. Except for that little electrical jolt we might feel, we can step over the invisible boundary whenever we want.

Fascinating to consider the irony of it all.  Home being our most important place of security, comfort, safety, privacy, refuge but knowing that it’s a place that can also become a prison as well… House arrest can lead to arrested development. And arrested development.

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Midwifing a New Home

nurse-midwife-hubStay with me on this one folks. It sounds a little crazy – but what else is new when it comes to my or anyone else’s real estate of mind. It’s all stranger than fiction.

The process of buying a home is similar to being pregnant.

There I said it.  I can hear those pregnant pauses now. Groans are welling up from today’s studio audience. On a gender-related note of apology, I promise to pass a large kidney stone in the future to make amends.

First, there’s the obvious. Timing is right. Stars are aligned.  The seed of an idea issues forth out of a gleam in the eye.  Suddenly it takes hold.

Out of the blue you are on the cusp of one of those great journeys in life.  A transition both exhilarating and a little scary.  Part of you tries to grasp the whole notion of what it means to leap into this particular version of the unknown.  There’s an inkling that things are going to change in ways you can’t even imagine but it’s all a bit abstract.

The inception of the idea is followed by a long gestation period as that initial spark of desire grows.  No one conceives of buying a house one day and simply runs out to make it happen the next.  Real estate isn’t designed to work that way.  Most people need time to adjust to the idea 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 scenarios in their heads before what actually comes to pass, comes to pass.  There are stages of development along the way everyone has to go through.

The obvious aside, here’s the way that buying a house is most like being pregnant…  Expectant mothers and expectant buyers will all recognize the phenomenon.  Moms, remember how, when you were quite 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 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 about 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 recognize a 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 pop up everywhere. Coming out of the woodwork. Insisting on offering their own unsolicited Jeckyll and Hyde stories ad infinitum ad nauseum.

They view themselves as kindred spirits.  They are well-meaning people, who feel a deep, misguided sense of  shared experience that gives them unspoken permission to recite chapter and verse and tell you all about it.   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 them.  What’s the best advice for buyers trying to birth a new home? Don’t tattoo it on your forehead. 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, home-buying days through you.  In the end, if you really want to own your own home you have to start by owning your own process.  After all, it’s going to be your baby.

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