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The Psychology of Your First Home

I’m buying my first home!

The search for the right one has taken me over a year. I’ve had multiple real-estate agents, showings, and more open houses than I can count. I’m a single female, with not the most amazing budget, but still an open mind. Finally, I found the perfect town home for me and my dog.

And I’m so excited!

And nervous, and anxious, and scared, and hesitant, and worried, and preemptive, and careful, and so many other feelings!

As a first time home buyer, I find myself asking my family and friends all kinds of questions:

Is this a reasonable thing for an association to ask for? What paint brand is best? Where is a good place to get affordable light fixtures? What internet provider do you use? Why would the last owner do this to the bathroom? What exactly happens at closing? What am I not thinking about that I should?!

Ok, so I’m clearly overwhelmed. But the fact that I will actually own a home I can make my own feels so energizing and satisfying.

The Psychology

This is usually the part of my blog where I bullet point some interesting research. Not surprisingly, there is not a lot of psychological research specific to first time home-ownership. We know that home-ownership in general builds economic wealth, and there are a lot of factors that influence home-ownership (marriage, children, income, market, etc.) but I am curious about first-timers like myself. This is big step in my responsibly. I’ve rented for over 10 years now – if something broke, it was just a quick call to my landlord; now, I’m the landlord. Really, this is a big life change for me!

There was one really interesting study I came upon that explained this transition a little more. Though published in the UK, participants of the study were American young adults. They found that home ownership between the ages of 18 and 29 (that’s me!) increases a feeling of mastery. In today’s society, this age on young adulthood is really a time of exploration, uncertainty, and changing roles, so to say buying a home is a positive effect is really awesome.

In the psychology field, mastery is defined as the sense of control one feels over their own life. As mastery grows, so does self-esteem, well-being, confidence, and a feeling of empowerment. In turn, these emotions reduce the likely hood of mental illness like depression and anxiety symptoms (for me, I’m hoping the anxiety dissipates after closing and I’m all settled in). Those with a high sense of internal mastery tend to be more successful, better communicators, and feel more independent. They tend to see that they have control over things in their lives, whereas those with a low sense of mastery tend to see situations as outside of their control. The sense of mastery is something parents, teachers, and others try to instill in their children. It makes sense then, that home-ownership increases this feeling, especially in young adults.

The Real Life Takeaway

The transition is still overwhelming, but the added confidence and responsibly will be valuable in the long run.


Tyndall, B. D., & Christie‐Mizell, C. A. (2016). Mastery, homeownership, and adult roles during the transition to adulthood. Sociological Inquiry, 86(1), 5-28. doi:10.1111/soin.12099

Williams, J. H. (2014). Economic security and home ownership. Social Work Research, 38(1), 3-4. doi:10.1093/swr/svu007

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