If you’re trying to buy a house in this smoking hot market, you are in for a wild ride. Houses are selling within a few hours of going up for sale, often with dozens of offers on the table. This, my friend, is a dreaded bidding war. Buyers are trampling each other to make offers above asking price with no contingencies, and sometimes all cash, just to get a leg up on the competition.
If you find a home that would be perfect for you, but you lose out on it to another buyer, it’s going to hurt. If this happens to you, it helps to understand the five stages of grief you may go through after losing a bidding war.
“Oh well, that house had an ugly kitchen and a small backyard. I’m better off without it.”
When you first find out you weren’t the lucky homebuyer with the best bid, you will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, you’ll most likely start thinking about the aspects of the property you weren’t crazy about but willing to live with. This is a comforting, healthy step in the process. You can further help yourself by writing down the less attractive things about the house and, when you’re feeling sad, read it again. Busy streets, little storage space, an outdated bathroom, and issues that were going to require an outlay of cash to fix should all be on your list.
Irritation and Anger
“Why couldn’t it be me? Why does this always happen to ME?!”
Losing stinks, whether it’s a football game, a hand of poker, or a bid on a home. As you move out of denial, you may get mad when you think about losing the bidding war. It’s easy to beat yourself up over it. Chances are you’ll berate yourself for not making more money (so you could have made a bigger offer), for asking for those stupid contingencies (you know how hot the market is!), and for waiting too long to make a move. Picking apart everything about the experience and being angry that you were left out in the cold is normal after you lose out on a home you wanted.
“I’m going to (insert bright idea here) and end up with that house after all!”
Once the anger fades, it’s natural to try to think of something that can save your chance. Some of the ideas you come up with may be a little nutty. You may consider going back to the seller with an even higher offer and dropping the contingencies you originally wrote into your offer. You may even ponder throwing yourself at their feet and begging for them to choose you. This is a rough stage because you’re focusing on hope. But once a house is under contract with another buyer, it’s rare that you’ll be able to wrest it away. Listen to your real estate agent when you call him/her about your plans to win back the house. It’s over.
Sadness and Depression
“My emotions can’t take this pressure. This is too hard, I give up!”
Being sad that you lost a bidding war on a home you wanted means you’ve started to accept the loss. You probably feel discouraged by the entire process and wonder if buying a house is worth the emotional turmoil. Not wanting to look at any more properties, telling your real estate agent to lose your number, and trying to be satisfied where you’re living now are all parts of this stage. If the home was your perfect house, the depression over the loss will be even more intense and last longer.
“You can’t win them all. I’m going to pick up the pieces and move on with my homebuying plans.”
Accepting that you lost the bidding war and won’t be moving into the house you wanted is the final stage of grief. Once you’ve swallowed this realization, it’s easier to move forward with your plans. Come to terms with the fact that you need to have patience, especially in this market. Learn from any of the mistakes you made so you don’t repeat them with your next offer. Call your Realtor and let them know you are still looking, and start skimming the new listings to find the next perfect house for you. It’s out there. We promise.
Buying a house in this crazy market will most likely be fraught with high hopes and disappointments. It may take several months, or even a year, to come out on top of the offers. Don’t give up if you want to buy a house. Stick to your guns, maintain your focus, and make searching for a home a daily ritual. You’ll eventually end up in the home that was meant for you, and all this effort will be worth it.