As we enter March in 2023, Chicago feels like the anticipated “pop” of a jack-in-the-box, ready to spring (pun intended) to attention as the monotonous months of winter finally pass us by. Along with that eagerness for warmer weather, sunshine, and longer days comes the universal tendency to yearn for something new. Like the spring flowers, people bud and bloom, too, often following a cyclical pattern of docile winter slowness followed by a renewed sense of motivation, curiosity, and fervor for work and life.
Sometimes, that avid anticipation translates into big decisions: a job change, a family lifestyle change, and yes, a move. And even though the real estate market has seen its ebbs and flows over the past many months, prospective buyers should set their sights on renewal there, too. A calm but competitive market will illustrate a markedly different tone than springs’ past – and that comes as a relief to buyers and sellers alike.
If you’re in the mood for a spring-ish in your step, you might have stumbled on exactly the perfect time to consider one. (According the Brenda Richardson with Forbes.com, “The market cooled dramatically in the second half of 2022, amid rising mortgage rates and two straight years of red-hot competition. But as mortgage costs bumped down from their peak in the fall, sales returned. Though sales still remain below where they were a year ago, they’ve rebounded significantly over the past few months.”) That’s great news, and it should be heavily considered if you have the flexibility to consider market trends and timing that works best for you.
But – how can you be sure whether to trust your whim or wait it out? That would be a great question for Sophia Klopas and Jason Stratton, Chicago’s top real estate brokers. In the meantime, here are the questions I would suggest pondering about your next move:
What is driving my idea to move?
According to Financial Reporter Ana Staples with CNBC.com, “A home will likely be the largest purchase you’ll have ever made, so it’s crucial to evaluate your motives. For example, buying a home because you feel it’s what you’re “supposed to do” isn’t smart if your finances don’t support the purchase. You should also avoid buying your first home as a pure investment — even though it does have the potential to appreciate in value.
A good reason to buy is to want a home to call your own because you’re in the right place personally and financially. Without a doubt, homeownership might offer plenty of benefits, but a house is first and foremost a place to live in the long term, and you should treat it as such.”
In that vein, it is best to check your spring fever at the door before making a plan to buy. Start by making a list. If your “wants” line up with your “ultimate needs,” you can feel confident that your timing is right. On the other hand, forced decisions are never prudent ones. Ensure you aren’t jumping the gun by assessing your lifestyle and financial goals first.
Then, again, if I agree that time is the only commodity I can never get back, what can I say is the best decision?
While it is essential to weigh your options when it comes to hefty decisions with long-lasting outcomes, it is also important to remember that indecision is a decision all its own. If the last three years have put a damper on your self-trust (a common consequence of the unpredictability of the pandemic), it may be time to toggle your thinking process and revamp.
Mainly, your thought process should involve prioritizing your family’s goals, motivation, and yes, timing. This means remembering that your lifestyle needs are constantly and swiftly changing – what mattered to you two years ago is different than what matters today, and that will change over time as well. If you’re in the market and mindset to move, consider that sometimes, there is no better time than right now.
How do I know better – to do better?
One of the most helpful mantras to keep in mind when facing whether or not to take action on any “move” – real estate or otherwise – is that clarity comes from engagement, not thought. What this means is that simply intending on making a decision, or perseverating on a decision, or talking about a decision doesn’t MAKE a decision.
Waxing and waning is the window-shopping of real estate. (It isn’t always a negative thing and can even help us make a better decision in the longrun.) There comes a point when too much window shopping just makes for a confusing outcome.
To feel more in control of your next real estate decision, engage in the actions it takes to feel more clear: Call an agent, schedule some showings, assess your finances and future, and make a plan.
Make the Move
What can paralyze us is the idea that small decisions are easy and big ones are scary. However, the paradox here is that life is actually made up of mostly very small decisions. Big decisions are sprinkled in - and they are important - but it’s the small ones that shape the big ones. They ask us to develop our habits, our ideas, our perspectives. They implore us to move out of the stagnant and into the action. They ask us to KNOW less and DO more. As we leave winter behind, we can spring into action by creating the lives we want, in the homes we dream of, with the people we love.
Catch us back here bi-weekly as we bring you curated and Chicago-based real estate content (with a life coach’s twist). Next up: Looking for some spring in your usual step? Start here... Grow as You Go: Five Neighborhood Events to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone.