August 10, 2022

Housing related stressors are on the rise and not a topic that was prominent within the therapeutic process up until recently. This is not only due to the prospect of purchasing a home and the myriad of stressors included in the process, but the effect a chaotic housing market has on a person’s psyche. Between housing prices skyrocketing, record-low inventory and, very recently, interest rates rising very quickly, the process of purchasing a home has become less exciting and fun. More and more people report increased anxieties deriving from competing with other home buyers, above market cash offers, fears of being rejected and the possible reality of not being able to buy their dream home. 

Struggles related to the housing market have had social, emotional and psychological impacts that are becoming more prevalent topics of discussion in therapy rooms. Social impact includes having to move to more affordable states which means leaving behind one’s social support system including family, friends, employment, etc. Emotional impact consists of feelings of hopelessness and defeat that often follow being rejected or outbid on an offer or being deemed unqualified for financing on a home by a lender. Moreover, many of these individuals are beginning to experience anticipatory anxiety during their home search or as they begin their search. This journey used to be exciting for individuals and families as it meant a start of a new chapter and attaining a piece of the “American Dream.” The psychological impact of this journey has also been brutal due to feelings of needing to compete and a growing number of individuals experiencing feelings of loss if they are unable to purchase the home they want. This creates a winner vs. loser mentality which is detrimental to psychological well-being. 

A few suggestions to consider if you are planning on buying a home: 

  1. This will likely be the most expensive investment of your life. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. 
  2. Know your budget, how much you’re willing to go over budget, and do not make an emotional decision and go over that budget. 
  3. Start looking early. Don’t wait until a month before your lease is up to start looking. The escrow process alone will likely take approximately a month if you’re lucky, so the longer you wait and closer you get to your move out date, the more anxiety and pressure you will begin to experience, which often leads people to go way over their budget and experience feelings of regret once the transaction is over. 
  4. Have realistic expectations. Remind yourself that there are more people that want to buy than available homes to purchase. When you go into this experience with realistic expectations, your expectations are more managed therefore a loss won’t feel as defeating. 
  5. Set boundaries around how frequent and how long you will look at online listings. This will help you develop a mindfulness approach around this experience making it feel more within your control and less fixated and obsessed. 
  6. Don’t purchase a home out of desperation. Many individuals are coming into therapy due to regrets for making a snap decision under high pressure. 
  7. Practice patience. If this is not something that comes easily to you, look back to a time that you overcame difficult circumstances or when once was a bad experience turn into your favor. This will help remind you that everything happens for a reason. 

When emotions are high and prominent, people are often less rational, which can often lead to relationship struggles. Couples may say things, do things, and act out in ways that are not consistent with past behaviors in the relationship. The anxiety that comes with purchasing a home can take a toll on the relationship, especially if the couple does not stay on the same page. Examples of topics that couples often disagree on include neighborhood location, commute times to work, local schools, proximity to recreational activities and finances. 

As a result of of the pandemic and Change of all sorts can be difficult even if it involves moving in with loved ones. A few problems that may arise include unresolved childhood trauma, petty arguments, feelings of resentment, lack of privacy, developing low self-esteem and general personality clashes. One tip to overcome these challenges would be to remove oneself from the environment as often as possible by rediscovering healthy, grounding outlets. Especially with COVID-19 restrictions having been lifted in most areas, people should be taking advantage of going back to the gym, hiking, spending time on the beach, going out with friends and getting outside of the house when possible. 

Furthermore, maintaining an attitude of gratitude by reminding self of having the opportunity to lean in on our families and support networks during rough times, as not many have the luxury to do so. Rebuilding and reestablishing friendships that were severed due to COVID restrictions is another healthy way of coping with in-home stressors. Additionally, using this opportunity to address family dynamics that have been unhealthy would be key to long-term relationship health and doing so by either receiving family or individual therapy, or both. It is of utmost important presently more than ever to reframe the experiences that are outside of one’s control as an opportunity for growth both as an individual and as a family. 

If you or someone you love is struggling and need help, find out if Lightfully is a good fit for you. 


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