There are two types of people in the world: those who flitter around parties like loquacious butterflies and those who develop an involuntary stress rash at the phrase, “we’re going out tonight.” Those in the latter category—aka introverts—are happiest when they feel safe at home, and tend to experience a great deal of social anxiety. In part, this is because the outside world can feel overwhelming and chaotic—which is a quality they share with highly sensitive people (HSPs).
This can make buying a new home all the more daunting—especially in today’s “act now!” market. The solution? Providing them with information that can offer a new perspective. So, read on for five ways to put an over-worked mind at ease before contacting a realtor (which will, of course, be done via text).
Who Are Introverts and Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)?
Essentially, introversion is a personality trait that describes people who feel drained after socialization and require ample time to look inward. They tend to think before they speak, and as a result of these traits, they’re often confused with HSPs. However, the term HSP, which is scientifically defined as Sensory-Processing Sensitivities (SPS), is characterized by (you guessed it) being hyper-sensitive. In most cases, this means you’re highly attuned to the little idiosyncrasies of your surroundings (think: holding your ears during a fire alarm). “HSPs [take] in a lot—all the subtleties others miss. But what seems ordinary to others, like loud music or crowds, can be highly stimulating and thus stressful for HSPs,” writes Elaine Aron, the psychologist who coined the personality trait, in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person.
That said, Aron is quick to mention that high sensitivity is not the same as introversion or neuroticism—which is a tendency to be depressed or anxious. Much like introverts, HSPs find the need to go home, decompress and recharge their social batteries after a day of interaction. Likewise, they also need a fair amount of solitude that allows for self-reflection. However, unlike introverts, HSPs require less respite; they’ll be ready to party after a quick nap or Netflix binge in the afternoon. “Often, HSPs were thought to be inhibited, shy, fearful or introverted. [However], 30 percent of HSPs are actually extroverts, and many introverts are not HSPs,” Aron explains.
Why is Homebuying Different for Introverts and HSPs?
Buying a new home—in and of itself—is a daunting task. Aside from endless paperwork, the entire process is brimming with conflict. From stressful conversations (read: negotiating during escrow) and learning the financial jargon to a slew of unfamiliar faces, in unfamiliar places… it’s no wonder that most homebuyers often feel like they’re losing their minds during the process. Now, try and imagine you’re someone who would rather donate blood than pick up a FaceTime from your realtor. That, friends, is the kind of torture an introvert or HSP would endure, if it meant avoiding some of these anxiety-inducing interactions.
“These situations are enough to make even the most extroverted person exhausted, so it makes sense that some introverts [and HSPs] may prefer to stay in their rental home or apartment long-term,” explains experts at home insurance company Hippo, which recently released research on introverts’ and HSPs’ homebuying needs. Since both view their homes as a ‘safe zone,’ when posed with the threat of losing that happy place, it can feel like things are spiraling out of control.
But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. “Homeownership improves mental health and confidence in a few ways,” Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., says. “It increases self-esteem, control and autonomy, which are all associated with better mental health. Those who become homeowners typically report higher life satisfaction and higher perceived control over their lives.”
So, with that in mind, here’s what any introvert or HSP should prioritize during the homebuying process to find—and create—the house of their dreams.
1. Know What You Want in Your Future Home
Before you do anything else, take a moment to envision what your dream home looks—and feels—like. Does it have authentic hardwood floors, or will the constant shoe-clacking noise drive you insane? Experts at Hippo recommend: “[Making] a list of things you love (and hate) about your current living situation. Use that as a guidebook for what you want in your next home.” And, because introverts and HSPs are incredibly unique, there are a few specifics that can bring some peace of mind:
- Tall fences
- Large backyards
- Set-apart houses
- Minimal street noise
- Adequate ventilation
- A low-traffic neighborhood
- No HOA
- Closed-concept floor plans
- Dedicated space for hobbies
- Secure system
- Proximity to town
- Neighborhood watch program
2. Find a Compassionate Real Estate Agent
Regardless of whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or HSP, there’s one thing that’ll make or break the home buying process: Having a reliable, trustworthy real estate agent (oh, and strong negotiation skills can’t hurt). Of course, for introverts, there’s an emphasis on trustworthy: “By entrusting the process to a real estate professional, an introvert no longer has to worry about stressful interactions with the other party,” says Cameron Miller, CEO of Cameron Miller Real Estate. “If the deal pushes through, all that an introvert has to do is just sign the contract itself.” Furthermore, Chuck Vander Stelt, a real estate agent with Quadwalls says: “Introverted homebuyers should look for a real estate agent with truly exceptional communication skills and who will communicate with you using your preferred methods.”
3. Do Some Prep Work
“If you are someone who experiences stress and anxiety, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for the homebuying process ahead of time,” Hippo recommends. Before you start scouring Zillow, get pre-approved for a loan and gather the important documents you’ll need, such as bank statements and proof of employment, so you’re not scrambling while you’re in contract, Thankfully, there are a ton of resources online for potential buyers (read: The Forms You Need to Buy a House). Once you have your ducks in a row, you’ll start to feel less overwhelmed, and more in control (trust).
4. Practice Mindfulness
“Introverts recharge best on their own, so take breaks from thinking about the homebuying process or preparing all the documents and things you need,” says Dr. Brian Wind, Chief Clinical Officer at JourneyPure. “Sit back and relax, immerse yourself in a hobby and remind yourself to enjoy building your life and settling in.”
5. Decorate for Your Needs
Last but not least: the interiors (yay!). Introverts and HSPs tend to be incredibly creative, though there’s one thing to keep in mind as you redecorate. “For those who are highly sensitive to light, sound or smell, it’s imperative to create an environment that doesn't overstimulate,” says Sylvia James, an interior designer at HomeHow.
In this case, how your home feels is just as important as how it looks. “Even though introverts enjoy spending time alone, they still like to feel safe and loved. Decorating their space with personal photographs or nostalgic artwork will remind them of happy memories and put them more at ease,” suggests Stuart Clark, an interior expert at Victory Curtain and Blinds.
Here are a few more ways to achieve that sense of sanctuary:
- Add blackout curtains
- Use soft lighting
- Create small nooks and ‘quiet spots’ with furniture
- Dedicate a space to hobbies
- Use an air purifier to reduce odors
- Paint the walls calming colors