Gemma Hudson and Jake Healey at their new home in Chifley. Picture: Chris Pavlich
Gemma Hudson and Jake Healey at their new home in Chifley. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Buying home affects mental health

WITH pressure cranking up at spring sales, more Aussie home buyers are reporting their search for a new property affected their mental wellbeing.

Just over half of those polled in a recent Allianz Australia survey revealed they found the search for a home stressful.

A similar proportion - 55 per cent - said they would rather stay in their current home and avoid a new property search altogether due to the stress.

Buyers shared some common frustrations with key costs and aspects of the home buying process. About one in eight buyers surveyed by Allianz revealed they wished they had a more realistic view about the properties within their budget and how long the process would take.

A fifth wished they knew most about mortgage insurance, while 11.3 per cent wished they were better informed about moving costs. Nine per cent wished they were more clued up about stamp duty charges.

Recent buyers Gemma Hudson and Jake Healey said one of the most stressful parts of the home-buying journey was finding the location where they could get the best value for money.

"It's hard to get a sense of what's standard in an area," Ms Hudson said. "We ended up looking at almost 80 properties.

"Some we looked at, they weren't all that great, and then you'd find out the price was $2 million. It was frustrating."

The couple eventually settled on a new property in Chifley and walked away "very happy". "It was actually more stressful for us once we had bought the home," Ms Hudson said. "There were lots of different things we needed to get quickly."

Allianz Australia general manager home and lifestyle Rachael Poole said buyers could reduce the stress of the process with education.

Gemma Hudson and Jake Healey said they had to inspect about 80 properties.
Gemma Hudson and Jake Healey said they had to inspect about 80 properties.

"Many homeowners tell us they wished they had known more about the additional costs involved in buying a house," Ms Poole said. "Prospective buyers can reduce potential stress by better understanding the end-to-end costs of purchasing."

Keeping some perspective also helped - most buyers wrapped up their searches within six months, she added. "We know that buying a home is one of the most stressful life events," Ms Poole said. "While this stress is understandable, know that it should be reasonably short-lived."

Buyers also shared some common strategies for helping mitigate their stress levels: 42.8 per cent were talking to family and friends and 25.5 per cent were trying to readjust their expectations.

Allianz wellbeing advocate Dr Sarah McKay said this was a positive start but many buyers could do more to make the process less stressful.

Getting a good idea of pricing often means zoning in on a single suburb for your search.
Getting a good idea of pricing often means zoning in on a single suburb for your search.

"We are social creatures, so connecting with family and friends throughout the buying journey can help alleviate stress," Dr McKay said, adding people tended to feel stressed when their coping mechanisms were overwhelmed.

"Buying a home represents more than a roof over our head," she said. "Our homes protect us … (they) tap into our basic human need for security. With all of this at stake, it's not surprising that buying a home can be stressful."

Property seekers could feel better about their search for a home simply by rethinking their stress response, she said. Doing this meant seeing the positives at the end of the challenge causing the stress, such as visualising a beautiful family home once the buying process was finished.

Overcoming property stress often requires talking through your experiences.
Overcoming property stress often requires talking through your experiences.

Connecting with others also helped, she said, pointing out that moving was something most people could relate to. "Even if you feel you lack time or mental energy to socialise, have a coffee with a friend, ask someone to help pack crockery, or cry on a supportive shoulder over the dream home you lost in the auction," Dr McKay said.

Another key stress reliever was "letting yourself grieve". "If you do not get the house you wanted or the home purchase journey did not go as planned, give yourself time."

Originally published as Buying home affects mental health


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