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How to Avoid Information Overload When Home Shopping

July 26, 2022
Couple home shopping on an iPad

Shopping for a new home is one of the most exciting and stressful times in life. There are lots of questions you’ll find yourself asking – the standard ones like: Where do I want to live? How many bedrooms and baths do we need? What square footage makes sense for my family? As well as bigger ones such as: Is this a good time to buy? How do I know if I’m getting a good deal? Are the incentives offered ones I need or care about?

It's easy to feel overwhelmed and lost in all the details of what you need (or think you need!), so we’re sharing some tips on how to avoid information overload when home shopping.

Older couple laughing while sitting on a couch looking at a laptop

1. Slow down and calm down

It sounds so simple, but before you can move forward, you need to stop – or at least slow down. When large amounts of information are thrown at us, the reflex to take action kicks in resulting in a decision that may not be in your best interest. You may feel overwhelmed and decide to do nothing or make a quick decision without really thinking it through.

The best thing you can do is sit down, take a deep breath, and allow the feelings of stress to subside and pass. Talk yourself through what you’re feeling and label those emotions to help you take a step back and notice what you’re feeling rather than letting those feelings impact you mentally and physically. Once you feel calm and have a clear head, it’s easier to sort through information and decide what is important.

Interior view of the living room and kitchen in the Howard home in Addison South at Addison in Austin, TX

2. Identify your personal priorities

When buying a house, everyone has priorities. You may want a home with a large yard while someone else would be happier with zero lawn maintenance. You want quiet space for everyone while others don’t mind if the kids share a bedroom. Imagine your ideal life in your new home and what you require to make it a reality.

Whether you’re moving to be closer to family, want a larger home for your growing household, downsizing for your future retirement, or to be near a vibrant downtown lifestyle, keeping your primary goal at the forefront of your search will help you stay on course and eliminate options that don’t fit your vision.

Start by making your list of requirements regarding location. What area would best fit the lifestyle you’re envisioning? Consider how you would live day-to-day including necessities like grocery stores, schools, and gyms as well as activities for fun like shopping, dining, and entertainment. Once you’ve narrowed down where you want to live, it’s easier to shop for houses within that location.

Neighbors dancing and having fun at Kissing Tree by Brookfield Residential in San Marcos TX

When figuring out what’s important in your home, think about what you need and want in a floor plan as well as the overall community. If you want a vibrant community with planned activities, a variety of amenities, and great connectivity between neighbors, it’s important to find a home in a neighborhood that offers that. If you have the right house in the wrong neighborhood or the wrong house in the right neighborhood, you won’t be happy long term.

You can’t start home shopping without a budget. Unless you have an endless amount of money to spend on your house, chances are staying within your budget is a high priority on your list. Identify what number you’re comfortable spending each month on your mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc. and make sure your budget aligns with your wants. It’s fun to scroll the housing apps and drool over those estate homes, but you’ll be better off (and more productive) focusing on what is realistic.

Whether it’s community amenities, the design and style of the home, or strictly about the numbers, it’s important to decide what are your “must-haves” and what is simply a “nice to have.”

Resort style pool at Kissing Tree by Brookfield Residential in San Marcos, TX

3. Research and plan

Now that you have a calm mind and a clear list of priorities, you’re ready to jump into the home shopping process. There are plenty of reasons to buy a new construction home, one of which is the incentives frequently offered by homebuilders.

If you want to move into a home that is uniquely yours on day one, find a homebuilder that offers a design center credit or upgrade allowance. Opt for money towards your closing costs to reduce the amount of cash out of your pocket. Go with the preferred mortgage lender and use the credit received towards a rate buy down to lower your monthly payment or an extended interest rate lock.

Young couple consults with a financial advisor

Figure out what number you’re comfortable spending each month and use the sales team and mortgage lender to help you run different scenarios. Playing with different hypotheticals can help you calculate your monthly payment, down payment, and the best use of incentives in the most advantageous way. Just be sure to keep your list of priorities handy as it can be tempting to jump on an incentive you may not actually care about.

Beyond the incentives offered, be sure to research the homebuilder. You want a homebuilder with a reputation for quality, energy efficiency, customer service, and innovative home designs and features to meet every lifestyle and budget. Fortunately, when you choose a Brookfield Residential home, you can be sure you’re getting more than four walls and a roof – you’re getting the best place to call home.

Primary bath with black accents in a Brookfield Residential home in the Austin, TX area

4. Give yourself a deadline

If you’re not careful, you can end up in a cycle of never-ending research and planning. With the volatility of the housing market coupled with changes in mortgage rates, it’s easy to worry that you’re not making the right decision or that the timing isn’t right for the decision you do make. The constant barrage of information can be overwhelming and you may need to take a step back and determine if there’s any new information that would radically change your decision.

There’s plenty of research on housing trends and mortgage rates, but there isn’t a cut-and-dry science behind shifts in the market. Experts can speculate what they think will happen, but there isn’t a set rule for how and when trends shift. At some point, you need to move forward and choose to either ignore some information going forward or give yourself grace to take action even if you don’t feel you know all the facts.

Exterior of a black and white Brookfield Residential home in the Austin, TX area

5. Act on your decision

After all of your careful consideration, take the necessary steps to move forward on your decision and feel good about it. Find a homebuilder that offers home designs you want with incentives that meet your needs. If you find everything you want and decide to enter a contract, feel good about that decision and don’t look back. If you find yourself back in the cycle of researching and second-guessing your choice, take a step back and remind yourself why you made the decision.

Light and bright kitchen in Goodwin at Kissing Tree by Brookfield Residential in San Marcos, TX

We know home shopping can be an overwhelming time with lots of information to sort through. Connect with our sales team to learn more about the homes available in the Austin area as well as our current incentive programs. Explore homebuyer tips and the mortgage calculator from our preferred lender partner, BRP Home Mortgage, for additional help. We’ll be expecting you!