The 5 stages of home buying

5 stages

Homebuyers travel through many stages of learning and emotion when buying real estate this year. This post will discuss the 5 stages of home buying.

Buying and selling homes is one of the last bastions of the free market system. It is a stripped down, bare bones random marketplace where buyers meet sellers and exchange a very expensive and appreciating asset. The marketplace, let’s call it a bazaar, is filled with newbies and real estate novices, experts, tricksters, wise old sages, small teams of gazelles, packs of wild dogs, one-trick ponies, Monday morning quarterbacks, egomaniacs, pathological liars, thieves, pimps, street fighters, poets, posers, preachers, consumers, clients, customers, agents and brokers.

It’s kind of like that bar scene in Star Wars.

It’s kind of like a zombie apocalypse.

It’s kind of like nothing else.

There’s no business like real estate, but there are lots of businesses like accounting.

Real estate can be a highly charged and emotional business. As an amateur psychologist, I’m always trying to figure out what is going on and I’m always looking for a path through the mayhem to help my clients get what they want, to buy or sell a home. It looks easy from the outside but real estate is a game where the rules always change and the points don’t matter.

The 5 stages of home buying

With competition so fierce and good homes so rare this season, homebuyers this year are going through the five stages of grief, technically known as the Kugler-Ross Model.

  1. Denial: This can’t be happening. My offer was a good one.
  2. Anger: It’s not fair. If I had known it would sell for that much, I would have bid more.
  3. Bargaining: I’ll do anything for that house. Please give me another chance.
  4. Depression: I’m never going buy a house.
  5. Acceptance: OK. I’m alright. Next time will be different.


Real estate is not like baseball

In baseball, if you are batting 300, you are doing very good. That is less than a one in three success rate. But in life unlike baseball, we expect to succeed every time. We expect our offer to succeed. We expect to be able to buy the house we want. We expect that our listing will sell in three days just like the guy down the street. And we are surprised and dismayed and upset when things do not meet our expectations. That is when the five stages of grief come in.

It is tough on the newbies and the novices caught in the headlights of a fast moving market. And it is tough on the high achievers, the ones used to winning and those who think they are in control. They see the world a certain way and real estate reality has a strange habit of not matching expectations. We don’t have it all figured out. We should expect to fail and only then can we succeed and win.

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