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  • Writer's pictureKim McLaughlin

On the hunt? Feathering your nest?

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Happy Easter!

This month I asked one of my clients, Mariel, to write a post for this blog describing what it’s like to look for a home. Mariel is straightforward, funny, delightful, and extremely bright. This blog is written in her words about her experiences and thought process…enjoy!

Desperation is not a position of strength

Unless you are extremely lucky, you know what it’s like to feel desperate for something: a new job, a new home, or even something to eat when you walk into the grocery store ravenous. Everything looks good! Your standards fly out the window.

It’s hard to make good decisions when we feel desperate. I know all about desperation because I am a first-time homebuyer in today’s crazy sellers’ market. I also need to move soon, so that adds to the pressure. This feeling reminds me of something I did several years ago. I was renting a condo in Portland, OR. It was a nice place, but far too noisy for me (I’m extremely sensitive to noise). As the end of my lease approached, I fantasized about moving to “a cabin in the country,” thinking only about how peaceful and quiet it would be. Had I ever lived more than 30 minutes from a major city? No. Had I ever lived more than 10 minutes from a Starbucks? No. But it would be quiet! I found a little cabin for rent on the Olympic Peninsula. When I went to check it out, I focused on the seemingly quiet surroundings and the lack of shared walls. I conveniently ignored the fact that it didn’t even have a real bathroom (just a toilet, an RV-sized shower, and a kitchen sink), despite the fact that bathrooms are very important to me (one of the most important rooms in the house). I ignored the possibility that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in such a rural, remote location. I was desperate to escape from noise, and I put on blinders to everything else.

Although there’s a lot to be said for getting outside your comfort zone, within a week or two, I realized this was not going to work. The quiet was the only thing I liked about the place, but I had given up everything else I also needed in a home, including a community where I fit in and a decent shower. Fortunately, I wasn’t locked in and I was able to move out pretty soon, and I learned an extremely valuable lesson from the experience: feeling desperate blinds us to things we know about ourselves. We might take the first job we’re offered even though we know deep down it’s not a good fit. We might move someplace with a huge yard even though the thought of lawn care fills us with dread. But, we are unlikely to have a spontaneous personality transplant once we start the new job or move into the new home.

Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of waiting for the perfect option to come along; we have to adapt to our circumstances (the pandemic has made that abundantly clear). But unusual circumstances can make us do strange things (as you know if you still have a stockpile of scratchy 1-ply toilet paper from The Great Toilet Paper Famine of 2020).

It’s certainly possible that a decision made out of desperation will turn out fine or even better than you ever expected. And if not, you’ll learn a valuable lesson. But if you’ve already learned enough lessons from misadventures in housing (as I have) and are drifting toward desperation in the current market, at least take a moment to STOP and acknowledge what is going on. As Kim reminds us regularly, the market is hyper-competitive right now because there is an extreme mismatch between supply and demand, at least partially fueled by the pandemic (desperation strikes again! People are desperate to get out of the city). There is nothing any of us, individually, can do about these forces. Are you saying “maybe!” to homes where you should absolutely say “no!”? I have caught myself doing this (fortunately Kim sets me straight), and it’s been a clue that desperation—or its cousin, panic—might be starting to warp my thinking. If you find yourself entertaining crazy possibilities, stop. Breathe. Try to stay grounded and summon the clear thinking that has likely served you well throughout your life. If you are even thinking about buying a home in our majestic corner of the world, you are clearly a genius!

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