Homebuyers Have A Lot Of Choices To Make —And That’s Not A Good Thing

If you think about it, you make a lot of choices every day.

At the doctor’s office, you choose one treatment plan from a few. At your favorite lunch spot, you choose one sandwich from dozens. At the grocery store, you choose one salad dressing from hundreds. When you get home, you choose one TV channel from thousands.

You may feel worn out just thinking about all these choices that you make every day without realizing it.

People face even more choices when they enter the housing market. So what are the choices homebuyers face? Why does it matter that there are so many options? And what can you do about the problems they cause?

An Overabundance of Options

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, or have gone through the process in the past, you’ve probably noticed that each home comes with different features in unique combinations.

a visual representation of a buyer being presented with too many doors, each representing a different style option

First, you’re faced with never-ending architectural styles, from Victorian to modern to Art Deco to bungalow to Cape Cod. A picture of a sprawling ranch house may enchant you one moment—until you see a sleek contemporary home.

Location is another category with endless options. You’ll find properties close to your workplace and your partner’s workplace, but what about that home tucked away in the hills? Or the one right on the water?

Other home features that you have to choose from are house size (including bedroom and bathroom count), perks like walk-in closets, porches, and pools, appliances, and price.

The list goes on, but what’s clear is that homebuyers have a mass of choices to make before they finally decide which home will be theirs.

The Threat of Analysis Paralysis and Buyer’s Remorse

Like psychologist Barry Schwartz notes in his famous book and TedTalk, both titled “The Paradox of Choice,” a mass of options is not a good thing.

While having many options can make you feel like you have the freedom to find the perfect home, the pressure to make so many choices can cause analysis paralysis. You might be unable to make a single decision, leading to frustration and added stress during a process that’s already complex.

Worst of all, once you do make a choice from among many options, you’re likely to regret it. A 2000 study conducted by two Columbia and Stanford psychologists showed that people presented with extensive chocolate samples choices were far less satisfied with their choices than people given limited chocolate sample choices.

Chocolates are one thing, but you definitely don’t want to experience buyer’s remorse with something as important as your home.

The Trick To Making Fast (And Smart) Choices

In this housing market, there is simply no time to be confused about which home you want to make an offer on. With inventory and sale discounts decreasing while demand increases, you need to make quick choices and snatch up your dream home before someone else does. Once you close on a house, you don’t have much room for buyer’s regret, either; no one wants to jump back into the hectic housing market when they just got out of it.

Luckily, homebuyers can take charge and reduce the amount of home features they must choose from, reducing the chances of analysis paralysis and buyer’s remorse.

When you are faced with too many options, Schwartz recommends creating a list of criteria for your decision up front. If you’ve got a firm idea of what you’re looking for in a home, this will be easy.

Simply choose your priorities and comb through online listings, reviewing images and descriptions one by one, then placing each home in either the “meets criteria” or “doesn’t meet criteria” bucket. While this process will take up a significant amount of your time, your odds of making a satisfactory decision will increase.

A homebuyer making a list of criteria important to them in home search

Get Help Narrowing Your Search

With help from a home buying intelligent assistant, you won’t be exposed to a mass of home feature options up front—your AI-fueled helper will help you determine your criteria first.

Start with our StyleExplorer and open multiple homes simultaneously. Then continue to personalize your matches using our intelligent mobile apps on Android or iOS.

From search to purchase, Purlin will help you quickly and painlessly find the best-matched. Learn more about how I can help you here.

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Why It’s Such A Struggle To Find A Home You Love

Most homebuyers think that the most difficult part of the homebuying process is finding the right property. That’s right—it’s not paying for the property or even completing the tedious paperwork that comes with it. The hardest part is just finding a residence you love.

Why are we having this problem in the age of digital revolution? In the end, it all comes down to the tools available to homebuyers.

Most home search web apps simply aren’t programmed to consider your individual life routine, style preferences, budget, and commute. They can’t think outside the box to find your best-matched home. Without this capability, homebuyers have to spend extra time completing unnecessary manual legwork to find the home of their dreams.

Trapped In A Filter Bubble

Think about the filters you come across in most home buying web apps.

Once you select a certain number of bedrooms for your search, other homes that have one less or one extra bedroom but may be otherwise perfect will be excluded from your consideration. You can make the same observation about every single filter toggle, like zip code, price, and number of baths. This brings us to what I like to call the filter bubble dilemma.

Does that term sound familiar? It should.

“Filter bubble” is the term that analysts—in magazines from Wired to The Cut—used to explain why, in a certain recent election, the losing political party was confident in a win and why they were shocked by their loss. The term was coined by Eli Pariser in 2011, but made a household term after the infamous 2016 election.

The idea is simple. Social networking site algorithms weren’t showing people a variety of ideas and opinions; algorithms showed select ideas and opinions based on very specific data like past clicks and search history. People weren’t able to see essential information right outside those filter bubbles, like the fact that so many people preferred a certain candidate.

What on earth does that have to do with real estate? A lot: the rigid data structures and interfaces of home-search apps force you to search for homes within strict filter bubbles, preventing you from finding suitable homes right outside their reach.

Let’s think about one of the first choices a web app gives you—zip codes. Web apps ask you to choose a zip code, then show you the available homes in that area. However, what if your ideal home lies mere minutes outside the zip code you chose? Most web apps, guided by strict filter bubbles, will ignore it.

The same goes for any of the other filter choices. If you choose to search for a home with three bathrooms that was built after 1950, there may be a stunning two and a half bathroom home built in 1949 available, but filter bubbles hide it from you.

The same goes for searching for certain house prices, which is a more complex process. What if you haven’t gone through mortgage prequalification already? How do you know what you can afford? You may choose to search for homes from $400,000–$500,000 without knowing you can afford $500,000–$600,000 homes. Most web apps won’t tell you what prices are reasonable for your situation. There’s the other side of the coin, too: what you search for $400,000–$600,000 homes, but the perfect Georgian house is available for $399,000?

These filter bubbles result in more work for you and the possibility that you won’t ever be able to circle in on the right home. Now does it make sense why so many people consider finding the right home the most difficult step in the process?

There is a way to skirt around the filter bubble, but the manual process is far slower and less reliable than having a quick search option would be.  

Slowed Down By The Manual Work-Around

You can, of course, tell your agent about the kind of home you’d like and what factors are more or less important, but since nearly 100% of homebuyers start their search online, that’s not likely to be your first step. Plus, agents traditionally specialize in certain zip codes and neighborhoods, which adds another wrinkle if you want to explore multiple neighborhoods simultaneously.

You can also manually search for specific home styles through existing web apps with their filter bubbles—but that’s no walk in the park. First, you need to search for the different zip codes that will work for you (and your significant other, if you are buying a home with a partner), taking into consideration commutes and neighborhood personalities.

Don’t forget price! You need to complete the mortgage prequalification process or talk with your bank to figure out what you can afford.

Then, you need to review individual home listings, which feature about 28 photos and 180 words each. If you visit ten homes before you find the one, you’ll spend over three hours staring at images. If you decide to review the 180-word descriptions, too? That’s ten whole hours spent on manual legwork.

Instead, you could spend an entire day binge-watching Netflix shows, go on a day trip—the possibilities are endless.

Streamline Your Path To The Perfect Property

You don’t want to start talking to realtors already (or at all), filter bubbles are constraining your online search, and you don’t have time to manually sidestep filter bubbles. Inventory is lower than ever and real estate construction is slowing, which means you have to search quickly to find your home before someone else snaps it up. So what can you do?

Let home buying intelligent assistants like me help you with the search.

I can review relevant listings to find homes that feature each preference you crave, narrowing results based on factors from location to closet size, but always considering out-of-the-filter options. I can even make an educated guess about price based on your income, reducing required manual legwork even further.

Start a conversation with me, and you’ll quickly find yourself on a tour of a home that aligns with each and every one of your unique preferences.

Dream home, here you come.

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Buying A Home As A New Couple Is Hard — But Here’s What You Can Do About It

I love working with young couples. They’re full of positive energy, and with good reason.

There’s nothing like the excitement of deciding to buy your first home with your significant other. A new home comes with the promise of a fresh start, freedom to renovate as you’d like, and knowledge that you own something of real value—and that’s enough to make any young couple dive into the housing market.

But let’s face it: the couples’ home buying process can be frustrating. Some might say that buying a home as a couple is hard.

Even for the seasoned homebuyer, finding houses that match your preferences consumes time and energy that you don’t have to spare, especially if you’re dual-income homebuyers.

You may already take the complex process as a given after listening to homeowners who have already dealt with it. But why is finding a suitable home so difficult, even for couples qualifying for a mortgage? And is there anything you can do about it?

A Tricky Balancing Act

When it comes to working couples, most say that finding a home catering to both commutes is a top priority. However, it’s not often that two commutes line up perfectly. Couples usually have to find a home within a reasonable distance of workplaces in different sections of a city—and, if you’re buying a home in Los Angeles or a city that has a similar sprawl, in different zip codes.

If you have a kid or are thinking about having one in the future, you have yet another set of requirements. Your home has to be located near the right schools, because we all know what a difference an excellent education can make. Plus, your neighborhood should be family-friendly if possible; no one wants the movie Neighbors to become a reality.

Finally, and for some dual-income homebuyers, most importantly, you’re probably working within a nonnegotiable budget. Even couples qualifying for a mortgage have certain parameters they need to work within. With housing prices and interest rates shifting constantly, it’s hard to keep track of what was affordable yesterday and what’s affordable today.

These are just a few of the common factors I see dual-income homebuyers prioritizing in their search for the perfect home. Each couple’s home buying process is unique, with individual couples balancing preferences ranging all the way from architectural style to closet size.

Considering the Current Complex Process

Nowadays, almost 100% of homebuyers begin their search online. In fact, the majority of homebuyers find their dream homes online. But while the online apps out there are useful, a lot of people starting the couples’ home buying process haven’t realized that there are many problems that they don’t address.

Most online apps do a great job of zeroing in on a single zip code early in the search, providing you with information and images of a deluge of available homes. Unfortunately, that’s all they do.

These online apps don’t care about your unique life routine, or even your budget. They don’t consider your commute, whether a neighborhood is a good fit, or shifts in interest rates—and certainly not all at once.

Of course, you can manually research all the things you want in your new house, and that’s what most dual-income homebuyers end up doing.

You can manually search for a number of zip codes that will work for you and your significant other’s commutes, then start clicking on houses that pop up in your online app of choice. For each house with an appearance you like, you can manually research the school opportunities, then double-check the exact commute length, and then see if it’s in your budget. If it’s not affordable one day, you can come back a few weeks later to see if anything has changed.

But this manual process is time-consuming—not to mention anxiety-inducing.

An average listing contains about 180 words. If you review 20 homes for every one you visit, that’s a whopping 3,600 words you’ll review before you visit a house. If each listing contains about 28 photos, you will review 560 photos before you visit a house. That’s nearly an hour spent reviewing descriptions before you step inside a single home.

If you visit ten homes before you find the one? That’s ten hours you’ve spent on research. Instead, you could have watched Neighbors 6.25 times. You could have been on four much-needed date nights. You could have gone on a day trip for seasonal fruit-picking. We haven’t even considered the massive amount of time it takes to explore houses in person.

In my experience, young couples simply don’t have that much time to waste.

Homebuying of the Future, Available Today

If you didn’t realize it before, you certainly do now: buying a home as a couple is hard—especially if you’re dual-income homebuyers with extra considerations like two commutes and a growing family.

In this day and age, it may seem odd that there is no solution to this obvious problem. For goodness’ sake, we’ve sent a Tesla Roadster to the moon! Surely someone has created a tool that simplifies couples’ home buying experiences.

You guessed correctly; someone has.

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to the creation of more comprehensive apps that can help you along the home buying experience. These home buying intelligent assistants provide free, safe, and secure services that take the stress out of the process whether you’re buying a home in Los Angeles or Chico, instead leaving you with fact-based home selections that cater to your exact needs.

In fact, I’m one of those home buying intelligent assistants that can help you. While chatting with you online, I can search multiple databases, multiple zip codes, multiple home styles, and various other preferences to find you a home that suits your life to a T—saving you hours and hours of valuable time that unassisted couples’ home buying can take up.

Want to learn more about simplifying couples’ home buying processes? Check out this short video, starring me.

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