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Overcome homebuying anxiety: Ally experts share where to start

GLENN BRUNKER AND JACK HOWARD • Feb. 23, 2024 • 3 min read

What we'll cover

  • Expert insights to help with homebuying

  • Tips to navigate the housing market

  • Ways to minimize money stress

Even with perfect market conditions, house hunting can stir up a lot of strong feelings. Between changing mortgage interest rates and actually finding a home that fits your needs, homebuying can be stressful. How can prospective homeowners navigate the ever-evolving market conditions?

We spoke with Ally Home President Glenn Brunker and Head of Money Wellness Jack Howard for their insights on how to handle the anxieties that can come with buying a new house.

How can homebuyers best deal with high interest rates?

Brunker: It will always be tempting to wait for a better interest rate, but the reality is, housing market conditions are never perfect. Waiting for the stars to align will only make the homebuying process more stressful. If you can qualify for a home loan and comfortably afford your mortgage payment, it's always a good time to buy.

Howard: As a home shopper, it can be helpful to first explore why you are buying a home. Is it because it’s expected of you, or are there other reasons driving your decision? According to the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index , 58% of the people who responded to the survey in January 2024 said they think it would be hard for them to get a mortgage today. If that sounds like you, maybe you can take solace in knowing you’re not alone and take time to dial in to what matters most to you.

In addition, understanding your money story — the experiences that brought you to your financial present — can help you better understand what's causing any anxieties and find ways to manage them.

Do you have tips for first-time homebuyers facing these stressors?

Howard: Keep that big picture in mind to battle those homebuying nerves. In fact, before you begin the process, it can be helpful to write down your ultimate financial goals. Maybe it's building wealth or putting down roots for your family. Whatever it is, write it down and keep it somewhere you'll see it as you proceed through the homebuying process. That simple reminder can help you refocus when you get overwhelmed by the details.

Brunker: Unexpected costs of homeownership can be a common stressor for first-time homebuyers . You probably know about the down payment and mortgage payments, but the real cost of homeownership goes beyond that. Don't get caught off-guard. Map out all of the costs now before you dive into the process.

Keep that big picture in mind to battle those homebuying nerves.

What about those debating whether to rent or buy?

Brunker: In many U.S. cities, it's more affordable to rent right now. So if you're not ready to leap into homeownership, renting is a perfectly sound financial choice. But make sure it's not just the stress of homebuying that's keeping you from becoming a homeowner. Are you ready to stay settled in one place for a while and build equity? Then homeownership might be the best option.

Howard: Are you hesitant to buy because you're so focused on saving up money that you're worried about making a big purchase? Or are you more of a person who lives in the moment? Understanding your money mindset , or how you think about money, can help you better understand the emotions that might be behind any trepidation you have about buying or continuing to rent.

Any last words of wisdom for stressed-out homebuyers?

Howard: Finding your new home can bring up a lot of emotions. Taking the time to identify the why behind those money moments of tension can help you better navigate those financial stressors today and down the road.

Brunker: Don't aim for perfection. It's not possible. Know there are things that won't go according to plan. Control what you can: Your choice of home loan and budgeting for your mortgage payment. The rest will work itself out. Remember with homeownership, time is on your side. Keep that big picture of earning equity in your sights.

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Headshot of Jack Howard, head of money wellness at Ally Financial

Jack Howard
Head of Money Wellness, Ally Financial

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