Buying a home signifies not just a new place of living but a new way of life.
All of the elements of a new place of residence, great and small, add up to changes in a person’s lifestyle. A longer or shorter commute, for example, could affect their budget for gas money, or may make them unable to watch their children after school, requiring them to hire a babysitter.
Relocating to an entirely new city or even to a new section of a large city can have dramatic effects on relative cost of living (which consumers can calculate and compare on sites such as Numbeo) for an individual and especially for a family. These effects will be more acutely felt when added to the personal and financial stress of purchasing and moving into a new home.
New homeowners may also find themselves confronted with a sometimes subtle, sometimes pronounced shift in personality when they move to a new location. This personality shift can affect their values, how they spend their time, and what they spend their money on.
Some clients may already have anticipated this change, and even qualitatively “budgeted” it into their new home. When they think about what their new home offers them, for example, it might be more accessibility to nightlife, through which they may aspire to become more sociable people in an area with a reputation for such an engaged population.
The consumer must be truly prepared for change. For example, those moving from renting to homeownership may expect to do so because they are starting a family—or, conversely, expect starting a family to be a natural result from the prerequisite of homeownership. Living in different places and under different conditions means a shift in lifestyle and finances, and represents an almost inborn aspiration that markedly influences real estate choices.
Consider also the co-occurring factors in a move; the top reasons for relocation in America are new and better homes; establishing one’s own household; because of a new job; and to find cheaper housing. Each of these reasons for moving also has effect on a person’s or family’s finances as a whole. A head of a household will spend differently than a single homeowner or renter; someone in a newer or better home is likely to have moved into a nicer neighborhood and be more likely to settle into purchasing practices that reflect the status of their neighbors; and someone with a new job may find themselves in an entirely new income bracket.
A customer will be truly satisfied with their real estate experience if they feel that are taking concrete steps toward increasing their life satisfaction; that the potential changes in their finances will be investments worth making. This means that they should dig a little deeper into what factors influence that level of satisfaction, and what their new home offers them that their current one does not in terms of those factors.
As an agent, you can help them get more in touch with what the move will really look for them practically. Considering what their new lifestyle will look like can prompt both of you to examine buying criteria in a different light. What amenities might support their new lifestyle most efficiently? Which features could offset some of their forecasted financial concerns? Exploring these questions with clients and incorporating their answers into the home-buying process is one way to go above and beyond as an agent and ensure that they can trust their own investments—and you.