Don’t Buy Impulsively

by Joy Earls

Real estate decisions and transactions can have enormous impacts on our lives both financially and emotionally. Don’t get caught up in the pack, rushing into a major decision or moving just because everyone else says you will miss an opportunity. You will be satisfied and even ahead of the gang if you know where to start, what approach to follow and how to navigate your way to the ultimate goal.

Big projects, small tasks, long-term goals and daily jobs are always on my list to complete, just like everyone else. If I rush into one without some kind of plan, I know I may regret some of the results. Without a plan, I can easily get sidetracked. Have you ever been working on a chore, walked away to get a tool and ended up on another project?

What about a trip to the grocery store? It can be a slow and expensive journey without a list. But when in the course of a hectic day and needing just a few things, my car veers right into the supermarket parking lot.

Peering into my grocery bags as I load them into the trunk, I notice a jar of stuffed olives, newfangled crackers that go great with blue cheese, a rolling pin and some dog biscuits. What the heck? I can’t even remember what I went in for. Most of us know that essentials at grocery stores are the farthest from the doors, which is a setup for those of us running in without our trusty lists. And it works. I leave without even knowing what I went in for, spending too much money and wasting valuable time.

Real estate is too large of a commitment to act impulsively. If this is the right time in your life to buy a home, find a recreational property or increase your income through investing in real estate take your time to do it properly. Here are some real estate stories and common pitfalls, with far worse implications than having a few extra groceries.

Foreclosures and bank-owned properties on the surface seem like incredible bargains. Who hasn’t heard a story about someone who paid pennies on the dollar for a hidden gem of a home? Those deals can and do happen occasionally. More often purchases that didn’t go very well are not openly discussed. People should share those losses and failures with each other, but usually they just want to forget all about the wasted time, energy and money. Frankly, it can be embarrassing until we start sharing our story
and realize that we aren’t alone in rushing forward without fully thinking through an action.

I worked with a couple who had a young child. They sold their home and lived in their parents’ basement while waiting to purchase a foreclosed home. We waited and waited, so long that they finally found another home, perfect for their family and moved in while the first home was still in foreclosure. The
bank finally repossessed the home and many months later put it on the market. The sellers were evicted and the property sold almost one year later.

Often, homes that go back to their lenders are sold “as is” and have many latent defects that buyers looking for great deals don’t adequately take into consideration. By the time they add up the costs of waiting to close, fixing unknown problems and ending up with a home that may not really meet their needs, a buyer may wonder whether it was a good deal after all. Before jumping into a foreclosure or bank-owned property, understand not only the best-case scenario, but the worst, which happens frequently.

Vacation homes, second homes and timeshares can be a blast. Have you ever taken a trip where they offer a free tour and pitch an incredible deal on some real estate they tell you that you could enjoy forever? While you are daydreaming and thinking of how you could come to this paradise every year, the reality may not sink in until you return home. This dream timeshare sounded great while you were there. You wanted to believe that you could go each year, but when plane tickets go up with other life’s priorities, it may not be possible at all.

I know people who honeymooned in a spectacular place and planned to experience the same tranquility
each year. They cemented the deal by buying a timeshare before they left. It would have been a better idea to wait until returning home to discuss the reality of such a purchase, but certainly not as romantic. If you have to make a decision like that fast because it will be gone tomorrow then you may want to truly see what tomorrow brings. The best deals for you and your family will still be there in the morning. If they aren’t, then they weren’t meant for you. Have confidence in your decisions and the time it takes to make a good one.

Real estate purchases are often the largest ones you will make in a lifetime. You want to make sure
that it’s the right one both financially and for your lifestyle. While you can be a bit angry at yourself for spending too much at the grocery store while not even remembering to buy what you went in for, a home purchase cannot be undone easily. Picture yourself five years or longer from the date of closing on a real estate deal. If it fits your goals, as closely as you can project, it will make sense to move forward.

Don’t make the decision because it seems like a good deal or someone told you to move quickly. The
best things in life are worth waiting for, I have to keep reminding myself.

This column was written by Joy Earls, a broker/owner of Joy Earls Real Estate. She can be reached at 531-9811 or

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