Too many choices in the housing market makes deciding to purchase even tougher for buyers today. For instance, there are the obvious questions, "Is the market at at the bottom?" "Will the economy get worse?" These are questions on everyone's mind these days. As to the market bottom question, however, I'll only say that the only way you can determine when the market has hit bottom is only after it's already on the way back up.
These questions are not the decision making problems I'm talking about, however. What I'm talking about is the fact that with increased inventories in practically every market category, it becomes increasingly difficult for many buyers to make a choice that leads to ultimate personal satisfaction! Too many choices leads to paralysis. The fear of making a bad choice forces us to make no decision at all, or at the very least delay, delay, delay the decision making as pointed out by Seth Godin in his recent blog post.
What's really going on here in my opinion, is what Barry Schwartz writes about in his book "The Paradox of Choice". Too many choices can actually have the effect of diminishing our ultimate satisfaction! We become too worried about making a bad decision. This may seem false on the surface, but think about it. Why do we channel surf so much when we watch TV? We're afraid of what we're missing on another channel! When we only had three channels, we knew what we wanted to watch and a remote control was far less necessary, right? (For those of you born after the advent of cable TV, you have to trust us older folks.)
So, what's the solution? I'll paraphrase Barry Schwartz, "The secret to happiness is low expectations! In this world where perfection is the expectation, it is increasingly difficult to have experiences that are a 'pleasant surprise'." Or, more to Seth's point, make a solid decision, and move on with your life! It's far healthier in my opinion to make an informed decision and accept the results. This isn't about diminishing the information process and accepting shortcuts, rather, it's about making good decisions, and stop trying to make perfect ones. It's a relief, isn't it? The pursuit of perfection is exhausting! These are the best of times for home buyers. Take advantage of it.