You’ve Lost the Bidding War On Your Dream Home
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You’ve Lost the Bidding War On Your Dream Home

Enter the five stages of grief.

By Kris Frieswick
Tue, May 18, 2021 11:08amGrey Clock 3 min

If you are trying to buy a house right now, you’re in the middle of a real-life Hunger Games. You finally find that perfect little house that you can’t live without, and there will be 13 other people who feel the same way.

That means you’ll be sucked into the worst possible outcome in any house-hunting scenario—a bidding war. Those other house hunters, like you, will do whatever is required and use all the weapons at their disposal to land the place. And when you lose, which you most likely will, you will watch your dreams—of backyard cookouts, of being able to get out of bed on both sides, of room to turn around in the bathroom without bumping your butt on the sink, of a kitchen in which your pots and pans don’t all have to live in the oven—evaporate. You will be gutted. You will grieve mightily, just like when [your childhood pet’s name here] got hit by a car.

The good news is that you will get over it, eventually. But first, you’ll have to go through the five stages of grief that accompany the loss of any bidding war. The stages start right after you stop swearing. Here’s what each stage looks like, plus some suggested coping mechanisms to get through them:

Stage One: Denial

You didn’t really want that stupid house. It’s a stupid house. Forget that house.

You should: Keep saying this to yourself until this stage wears off. It’s the best you’re going to feel for awhile.

Stage Two: Anger

That house wasn’t stupid! It was awesome and you lost it. Why do you keep on LOSING?? Why can’t you ever WIN anything? It’s just like the high school state basketball championship that you LOST. And all those times you lost the lottery. Oh great! Now there’s a hole in the wall above the TV from you throwing your laptop in loser rage. Loo. Zer.

You should: Stop with the throwing. You’re going to be in your house awhile. But don’t repair the hole. That’s just conceding that you are never moving out. Go buy a painting to cover it up. It will take your mind off all the losing.

Stage Three: Bargaining

You are brilliant! Why didn’t you think of this before? You tell your broker to offer 5% above the winning offer, no matter what it was. Your broker tells you it was all cash, 30% over asking, included a new Range Rover, the buyers are closing on the property in eight hours, and their moving truck is already idling outside the house. “Face it,” your broker says. “You lost.” “NO!” you think really loudly to yourself. “You lost, broker person. YOU lost.”

You should: Drink and cry. But whatever you do, don’t watch HGTV. All those clueless, insanely picky, delusional, yet somehow winning house hunters will make you throw things at the TV, which you can’t replace because you need your savings for a downpayment. Theoretically.

Stage Four: Depression

You will never find a house. Just quit looking. It’s pointless. Why even bother? You’re going to be stuck in this dumb, ugly house for the rest of your life, looking at that terrible painting you just bought to put over the hole. You hate that painting. What is that even a painting of? An angry bee stinging a… a walrus of some sort? Is it even hung the right way up? It looks like a five-year-old drew it. It’s a stupid painting.

You should: Stop drinking and go to bed. Leave the picture alone. It’s hung properly. You maybe should have paid for a nicer one, or bought some fine art photography of the Eiffel Tower or a foggy Brooklyn Bridge. Deal with that tomorrow. If you have dreams about blowing up that house that someone else won, that’s a normal part of the grieving process.

Stage Five: Acceptance

Wait. That’s not a bee and walrus. It’s a flower in a garden. Now that the morning sunlight is hitting it, it’s not that bad of a painting. The colours go with the comfy chair. Like you planned it that way. You sort of like it now. You’re gonna sit in that comfy chair and admire your new painting, have a cup of coffee and take a quick scroll through the listings sites to see if anything came on the market overnight. You’ll use your phone, since your laptop is in pieces.

You should: Love the one you’re with. Maybe go ahead and fill in that hole. Keep the faith. Your house is out there. It might take you a year to find it. You might need to look at 100 houses or more. Maybe you’ll have to wait until this insane market crush has calmed down a bit. But you’ll find it. In the meantime, remember to be thankful that you’ve got a roof over your head, be that as it may.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 13, 2021

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