Buying a house in the Puget Sound area right now is bonkers. Seattle is the second hottest market in the entire United States behind Phoenix. Many people feel like punching bags as offer after offer is being rejected.
The Seattle area is not the hottest market in the country. But in my opinion, it’s not exactly apples to apples with Arizona. The average home in Phoenix costs $249,300… the median price in Seattle is 287% more expensive coming in at $724,400.
Don & I have recently had several buyers make really exceptional offers only to be told that they were second best. They didn’t get their dream house. You can imagine the disappointment. It’s crushing.
That’s when Don and I have to switch gears from being a realtor to being a friend for someone who’s emotions are raw.
There’s a few things that I’ve learned in going through these last few rejections that not only apply to real estate, but I’ve actually been using in everyday life.
First: Game Selection.
If I was walking in the park and there were a group of NBA players in a pick-up game of basketball looking for one more player, I would be a fool to jump in that game.
I’d be humiliated on every level. I have no business even trying to compete. Who am I trying to fool?
On the other hand, if it’s a friendly game with people around my ability level, it could be fun to get the heart rate up and shoot some hoops.
So what’s my point? It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to buy a house or trying to find a new job or romantic partner; it’s important to know what game you are playing. It’s one thing to get beaten in a fair game with equal competition – it’s quite another to be embarrassed because you’re totally outclassed.
One of our buyers decided to change games. It was too painful to compete in one category of homes, so she switched to one that is less competitive. That’s a smart move. Select a game where you have a better shot at winning.
Second: Know Your Boundaries
It’s difficult to control yourself when emotions run high. Especially when you want something badly.
There is no logical reason why we’re seeing some houses go for hundreds of thousands of dollars over their list price with people waiving every single protection that is available to them. It’s pure irrational emotion. While that theoretically can be good for a seller, it’s not a great long term strategy for buyers.
So to expand the concept again: Taking the time to know what your constraints are before jumping in the area is crucial to protecting yourself from disappointment.
If you prepare mentally and know your limits before the pressure is turned up, you’re able to refer to it as a touchstone in the heat of the battle.
Don and I do an actual role play with people.
How will you feel if it happens this way?
How will you respond if that happens?
Where is the line for you where you will walk away?
A version of these questions can be applied to almost any important life decision. The disappointment is automatically diminished if you decided beforehand when you would just walk away and look for a better spot. It really does help.
Finally: Take a Page from the Stoics
There’s a concept in Stoicism called negative visualization.
It’s basically starting with your goal in mind, and then deliberately going over all the things that could go wrong. The famous Stoic Seneca said, “Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation…nor do all things turn out for him as he wished but as he reckoned – and above all he reckoned that something could block his plans.”
So as you are writing an offer or going into that job interview you can take some time to realize that most of the time it’s not going to exactly according to plan. Doing a negative visualization about the fact that it could fail lets you rehearse in a small way how you might feel if that happens in the future.
The side benefit of negative visualization is that you have a more pronounced feeling of gratitude and appreciation when things go your way because you soberly considered that it wasn’t guaranteed for you. It’s a counterbalance to any feeling of entitlement.
As the cool kids say online, “Adulting is hard.” Indeed it is sometimes. I hope that these techniques that I’ve been using can lessen the sting of disappointment in your life.