Sean McIllwain, MOD Boulder Real Estate

Sean McIllwain, MOD Boulder Real Estate

In today’s frenetic real estate world, the concept of “patience” may seem contradictory (and a smidge patronizing) to the market’s breakneck pace. The phrase “Time is of the essence” is actually hardcoded into the Colorado Purchase Contract – so it’s doubly hard to imagine patience having any role in today’s real estate world. But the oft-touted virtue may be our best recourse against roller coaster emotions, snap decisions, and sky-high expectations. Axl Rose was right: All we need is just a little patience.

These days when a listing hits the market, the new ritual is to list on Thursday, allow showings through the weekend, require all offers to be submitted by Sunday evening, with a decision to be made Monday morning. While such a timeline is anything but patience-inducing, there are certain things to keep in mind – and strategies to put in place – to keep a healthy perspective. Let’s look at those, shall we?

It’s important to recognize that you’ll look at a lot – a lot – of listings in the buying process. While you may feel buyer’s burnout creeping up on you at showing number five or six, remember that seeing homes you don’t want helps you to define what you do want more specifically.

Also, it’s important to know you may be outbid multiple times before you have an accepted offer. That’s right, multiple times! That may sound like a Groundhog Day of disappointment, but the merciless process helps you practice patience and non-attachment. That initial pang of heartache you feel when your dream home slips through your fingers? It gets easier with time – and there’s another one out there. That’s a pinkie promise.

Before you begin your search, make sure you’re pre-qualified so you know what you can afford – and the limits to which you can go. It’s also helpful to define what concessions you’re willing to make to meet seller’s demands. Are you willing to bridge the appraisal gap – that is, pay any difference between the appraisal and purchase price? Are you willing to limit the scope of your inspection? These are specific strategies that should be in place before you see your first home. Setting your boundaries beforehand will allow you to practice patience and keep perspective throughout the buying process.

And lest we forget the sellers! In the real estate market, patience isn’t just for the buyers. Patience also applies to the long-tail strategy of gaining equity wealth in your home. Sure, the fix-and-flip game is played with a short timeline, but most real estate investments are measured in years, not months. Since the 1970s, Boulder has seen an average 5.9 percent appreciation rate, accounting for plenty of down years in the 1980s, the dot-com bubble, and most recently, the Great Recession. However, any homeowner who held their home for multiple years was almost certainly guaranteed an appreciation gain, even through those tough times.

I won’t sugarcoat it for you: buying in today’s real estate market isn’t the easy-breezy, “let’s sleep on it” experience as seen on TV. But going into it with proper expectations, the right strategies in place, and a healthy dose of patience will help make the home-buying process less of a harrowing tale to tell your grandkids one day. Now if you’ll excuse me, Axl is calling for some real estate advice.

By Sean McIllwain. Sean is the founding broker of Mod Boulder Real Estate. Call 720.252.6051, e-mail [email protected] or visit