The extreme housing shortage is making the home search so stressful for buyers that their health and relationships are suffering, according to a new survey from LendingTree. Sixty-five percent say they’ve lost sleep over their failure to find a home, and 42% say they’ve had family arguments, the survey shows.
It’s just the latest sign that the gridlock in the real estate market is impacting buyers’ personal lives. Last year, a survey from realtor.com® found that the homebuying process drove 23% of buyers to schedule extra therapy sessions. In the same survey, more than a quarter said they had to take “mental health days off” of work to deal with the stress. “Buying a house is often stressful—even in the most buyer-friendly markets—and it can be even more challenging in a market as expensive and generally unfriendly as today’s is,” says Jacob Channel, LendingTree’s senior economist.
Buyers have undoubtedly been in an increasingly difficult situation in the market. Those who purchased a home in the last two years are nearly three times more likely to have paid above list price than those who bought more than five years ago, according to the LendingTree study. The more recent buyers also are more likely to have made an offer above list price that was turned down by the seller. Only 61% of buyers who purchased in the last two years say they closed on their first-choice property, the survey shows. That’s down from 73% of those who bought more than five years ago.
Buyers in the last two years also are more than twice as likely to have submitted offers on multiple properties. Even during the slower spring season this year, homes on the market in May received an average of 3.3 offers each due to limited inventory, according to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index. A quarter of buyers in May waived an inspection contingency, and 23% waived an appraisal contingency to better compete with other buyers.
Channel says buyers often need to approach the market with a plan B—and even a plan C. He suggests they find three homes they like so they have “some alternative options to fall back on should your first choice slip from your grasp.”
Buyers’ Top Stressors
Though overall competition for homes has slowed in the last year, buyers generally say it’s getting more difficult to purchase. Forty-four percent of buyers who purchased this year say the process was harder than they expected, up from 33% who said the same in 2022, according to a recent survey from Clever Real Estate. Buyers blame the following financial barriers for why they believe the homebuying process has gotten more difficult:
- Exceeding their budget: 45%
- High mortgage rates: 42%
- High home prices: 42%
The National Association of REALTORS® also found in its 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report that there are certain stressors particular to different age groups.
Keep Them Calm
It’s up to you to educate your clients on the realities of the sparse housing market right now so they can prepare for what may lie ahead on their homebuying journey. You also can be ready to respond to potentially tough objections from frustrated buyers by getting educated yourself. You might consider taking NAR’s Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation course, which provides strategies for improving communication and nurturing client relationships. The course teaches agents how to have initial discussions with buyers, going step-by-step through the homebuying process and asking particular questions.
Real estate pros who have earned the ABR® designation say they’ve also learned methods to increase client loyalty. “There are so many things we can do to get our clients ready to go before they see the first home,” says Michelle Davis, ABR®, SRS, training director at Atlanta Communities Real Estate in Marietta, Ga. “It’s crucial. So many are first-time home buyers, or they have lived in their home for years. They don’t necessarily remember the process. It’s our job to get them ready.”
If you want to know how you can lessen the stress for your buyers, check out what buyers say they want the most from their agents.
In the end, buyers say, the stress of the homebuying process is worth it. Eighty-seven percent of Americans say that owning a home is important to obtaining “the good life,” according to a recent Fannie Mae survey. “The resiliency of consumers’ perceptions of homeownership relative to other investment options is noteworthy, especially during the previous three-year period of significant economic uncertainty,” Fannie Mae researchers write in the study. “The survey data shows that consumers see homeownership as helping to deliver on a sense of financial security, which was also tied as the primary factor associated with the ‘good life.’”