The Property Line: Buyers Face Emotional Journey in 2021

First-time home buyers face highs and lows. Here's how to manage those feelings.
Holden Lewis
By Holden Lewis 
Updated
Edited by Beth Buczynski

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Plan to buy your first home in 2021? It'll probably take months instead of weeks, and you might feel demoralized at times.

That's not negative thinking. It's an acknowledgment that the road to homeownership has potholes. The journey can be bumpy, but the destination is worth it. When you know at the outset that you're in for emotional highs and lows, it’s easier to shrug off those lows and keep on truckin’.

Here's why 2021 will be a rough year for first-time home buyers — and how to manage your emotions during the process.

Why buying a home in 2021 will be tough

There aren't enough homes for sale to meet demand. At the end of October, the most recent month with available data, 1.42 million existing homes were available for resale. At that month's sales pace, it would take just 2.5 months to sell every home on the market — an all-time low, according to the National Association of Realtors. The supply of new homes for sale was enough for 3.3 months, tied with the previous month for a record low.

Supply is low because buyers are pouncing whenever homes become available. Most existing homes sold in October — 7 in 10 — were on the market less than a month, according to the NAR.

With a slender stock of homes selling fast, buyers have little power. "The control is in the seller's hands because of supply and demand," says Terri Robinson, a Realtor with Re/Max Select Properties in Ashburn, Virginia.

Set realistic expectations

Expect months to elapse between the first step of checking your credit reports to the final step of closing on the home. "The first thing that I hope people understand is it's not an overnight process," says Marc J. Jenkins, a real estate agent with Prime Property Partners in Atlanta.

Jenkins tells first-timer clients that it typically takes five to eight months to buy a home. Understanding that homebuying timeline "prepares them mentally, emotionally and financially to see this process through." Would-be buyers are prone to burnout if they expect the process to take a month, he says.

Everyone wants a bargain, but buyers need to recalibrate the meaning of that word so it applies to today's competitive environment. "A bargain, if I were to redefine that, is the home that you want for the price that you're willing to pay," Robinson says.

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