By: Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®

We’ve all heard “don’t get emotional when it comes to real estate.” This is great advice, and I often share it when clients, family, and friends are looking to purchase a new home. But, there is one fatal flaw with this advice–it’s impossible to do!

Real estate is the quintessential emotional purchase. If it wasn’t, no one would ever buy a home in the first place. Think about it, you’ll have to maintain it, fix issues, and sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into it. The harsh reality is the home buying process is an extremely emotional one.

Speaking of emotions, every house I’ve bought I did so by imagining myself living there. I envisioned what it would be like for my family and what memories we would build in that home. I pictured the breakfasts we would share in the eating nook, the holiday meals we’d enjoy in the dining room, and the coffee we’d share on the front stoop rocking away in our rocking chairs (even though I don’t drink coffee). How could I not get emotional?

Here’s another fact on how hard it is to remove emotions. An extra $50,000 or $100,000 in the purchase price may only result in an additional $200-$400/mo in payment. That has many asking themselves – we can cut back, right? Or, can we work a little harder, by picking up that extra shift, or take on an additional side hustle, to pay the difference? Are those things worth it to get into the home of your dreams? The answer might be yes. Heck, I watched my best bud (the O-man) purchase a house I thought he was crazy to purchase. But, when we sat down and went through the math, it turns out he wasn’t as crazy as I thought.

So I ask, how is it possible to not get emotional about the biggest purchase in most of our lives? After years of deliberating on it, I’m here to say go ahead and get emotional, but do it with ground rules. Do so before you even start looking. This way you won’t change them before you even begin.

Ground Rules

What should these ground rules look like? What a great question (and I’m so glad you asked).

Here are my list of things to figure out with your partner, financial planner, and realtor.

1. Most importantly, discuss what you can afford. Don’t look at anything out of that price range. Then, you likely won’t purchase anything outside of your comfort zone.

2. Discuss with your partner (or yourself) what you want in a home. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? What city/town, size, and layout? Make sure before you take another step forward you’ve ironed out your must haves and your have nots.

3. Meet with your realtor and go over rules 1 and 2. See if they believe your requests are reasonable. Does this house exist? If not what is the closest you can get in your price range? Are you OK compromising? If not, perhaps now is not the right time for you to buy.

4. Don’t justify a bad buy. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in this thing, we can’t unravel logic from emotion. But, you must! Tell yourself that although you love this house, you’ll love something else just as much. This way when you get down to negotiating, you don’t compromise on what’s important. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment and lead to something you’ll regret down the line.

5. Stay patient. Finding that perfect home, at the perfect price, takes time. I give my brother a lot of credit in this department. He and his wife looked for their dream home in Long Island for two years before they finally found that perfect home. They even bid and lost out on a couple of homes, but they refused to compromise. It’s this resolve that led to their perfect home.

6. It’s OK to walk away. If you stay true to this list, then you’ll know when it’s time to walk away from a home. If you’ve gotten to this point and you keep justifying a bad purchase, then it’s time to move on. Some of the biggest home purchasing success stories I’ve seen was after someone walked away from numerous houses. They even did so despite what their emotions wanted them to do.


One final note I’d like to make. We often get so wrapped up in our own emotional saga of home purchasing that we fail to remember there is always another party involved. Usually that person is much more emotional about selling than you are towards buying. When we get down to the often contentious back and forth of negotiating, we fail to remember they have feelings, too. This is important to remember as I want the best for my clients. But never let their feelings affect yours. Remain true to the list.

It’s ok to get emotional and, quite frankly, you should. Just create a structure, using the list above, that doesn’t let emotions get in the way.

Financial planning and Investment advisory services offered through Diversified, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Securities Service Network, LLC, Member FINRASIPC. Some associates of Diversified, LLC are registered representatives of Securities Service Network, LLC, a registered broker/dealer, 9729 Cogdill Road, Knoxville, TN 37932. (800) 264-5499.