Love at first sight is every bit as much of a cherished concept for houses as it is for relationships. So how do you know when you've found your dream home? While there are a myriad of factors that go into your buying choice, the tipping point is often just a matter of instinct: People just know. As books like Malcolm Gladwell's " Blink" illustrate, there's a lot of legitimate science behind snap decisions we can't always explain.
But that doesn't mean every stab in the dark is the right one. Since this is one of the most critical decisions you'll ever make (along with that relationship one), we decided to show you ways to harness your intuitive powers, interpret your "inner voice," and steer your sixth sense toward finding the right home for you.
Set the intention
One way to involve your intuition before you even start looking is to create what's called a "positive intention" -- a New Age way of saying write it down in concrete words.
"When you name it, you claim it," says Portland, OR -- based intuition expert Melissa Mattern. Take out a piece of paper and write down a few attributes you want in a home -- and not just the basics like "walk-in closet." Expand into how you envision yourself in your home, whether that's hosting lavish dinner parties, binge-watching Netflix with friends, or snuggling with your kids in bed. This "primary needs hit list" can help ground you during your search. That said, keep our next point in mind, too.
Notice when your 'list' disappears
OK, you've got your list. You know what you want. But what happens when you find yourself smitten with a dwelling that has few -- or even none -- of the items? It could be your intuition guiding you to the right path.
"The must-have list is a jumping-off point. When you get to the house, suddenly the list fades," says Mattern. "That's how I ended up in a purple house with a bathroom that is so tiny I've knocked myself out twice on the eaves. It had almost none of the 'have to haves,' but I experience 100% joy every time I bound up the steps to see what is happening inside."
Pay attention to the facts, but when suddenly you don't care about a home's attributes and instead have a strong sense that this is where you'd be happy, listen: This home could be trying to tell you something.
Tune in to your feelings
According to Judith Orloff, an intuitive psychiatrist who teaches medical students at UCLA how to use their intuition when working with patients, most gut instincts are accompanied by some kind of physical sensation. In her book " Second Sight," she says that positive and affirming intuitive hits are often accompanied by a sense of warmth, a wave of goose bumps or fluttery feelings, the ability to breathe more easily, and relaxation in the gut and shoulders. If you find yourself noticing these physical manifestations when viewing a home, then your intuitive wisdom could be kicking in.
Trust those tiny doubts
In "Blink," Gladwell opens with the story of the Getty kouros, a sculpture purchased by the Getty museum for $9 million. There was just one problem: Certain experts took one look at it and declared it to be fake. They could not articulate why, and it turned out they were right, which illustrates how it's important to listen to that little voice in your head when it says things seem off. Even if you can't place your finger on the problem, that's your intuition trying to tell you to beware.
"As a home inspector, I look for obvious signs of defects in the home, but I have also been trained through experience to look at the not-so-obvious signs," says Kelvin Liriano for Three Keys Home Inspections. "I don't go into an inspection determined to make a mountain out of a molehill, but prior experiences have beefed up my 'something ain't right' detectors."
For example, if you see a new dehumidifier in the basement and it strikes you as funny, check to see if water is seeping in someplace. Or if you get a sense that something is "off" with the house, examine its historical records. You may find that your inner voice was spot on, and be very glad you listened.
Just remember that when choosing your home, sweet home, it's valid to listen to your instincts -- but also smart to double-check them.
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