It's already stolen a piece of your heart. You’ve spent countless hours thinking about it. You know it’s a huge commitment, nothing like you’ve ever had before, but you’re more than ready for it. You had such big dreams and imagined the two of you growing old together.
But then you lose out. Maybe your offer got outbid. Or maybe the seller chose a cash buyer. Maybe the deal fell through because of an inspection fiasco. There could be a number of reasons why your dream home got away, but one thing’s for sure: the heartbreak is real. It’s painful, and now you’re no better off than when you started.
This situation—”the house that got away syndrome”—isn't uncommon, especially to first-time home buyers who could fall in love with any home easily or swoon over cosmetics alone, such as an updated kitchen or a good curb appeal.
So how to cope when your supposed “The One” turned out to be just another listing and another buyer’s new home? Here are three tips to help you get through it.
1. Don't pretend it’s “no big deal.”
After all, it is a BIG deal. So don't pretend that it doesn’t hurt. You should allow yourself to go through the grieving process and feel everything because you’re mourning a lost dream. As you start planning on what furniture will go on the patio, or what lovely color to paint the walls with, you got the house of your dreams snatched away by another buyer, which crushed your high hopes. Now, you couldn’t do anything about it except let yourself grieve.
It’s okay to feel bummed for a bit. Just remember that the idea of your dream home might have been shattered, but you could pick up the pieces and treat them as lessons to be learned as you move forward.
2. Change your perspective and set new goals.
It's truly devastating to lose out on a home you fell in love with, but remember that there are lessons to be picked up after every heartbreak. And they will help you remain hopeful and move through grief of the house you just lost.
Try to widen your perspective so you’ll understand what worked and what can be improved, then set new goals with those lessons in mind. Was your dream home too far out of your budget? Did you go too low? Did you move on it too slowly? Is it possible to live with two bedrooms instead of three? Do you really want to live in that hot neighborhood, or perhaps you’re willing to move further away from the city? Would you be willing to take a second look at your list of wants vs must-haves? What can you do differently this time?
Assess yourself with these questions when setting your new goals so they’ll be more specific and attainable. Because no matter what went wrong in that previous chapter of your home-buying journey, believe that things happen for a reason and that the house that’s meant for you is just somewhere out there.
3. Prepare to get back in the house-hunting game.
You've mourned and you’ve learned. Sooner or later, you will be okay to test the waters again. While it can be difficult to forget about the “house that got away”, remember that there are still plenty of houses out there. You need to completely get it out of your head so you can start looking at other properties again.
Get back in the game like you never left. Just don’t forget that you’re better and wiser this time around. You must know exactly what you want in your “The One,” while also being mindful that not every listing is perfect. Maintain your level of diligence as if it’s your first time house-hunting. Understand your budget so you won’t experience another heartbreak on a house that will turn out to be just a money pit. Lastly, try to gradually learn to detach yourself from the emotion. Because at the end of the day, buying a home should be less of an emotional affair and more of a business transaction where you have to avoid making bad decisions.
Even if you’re in a competitive real estate market that has low inventory, believe that you can still find the house you want. You just need to be prepared to claim it when it comes. Hopefully, you will be happier with the home you end up with so you can completely forget about the one that got away.