Closing on a House: A Perfectionist Speaks Out

Diagnosing myself, I am what psychologists refer to as an adaptive perfectionist, also called a normal or active perfectionist. Psychologists and scholars have conceptualized adaptive perfectionism as

high personal expectations or standards, conscientious orientation to tasks and performance, preferences for order and organization, and a persistent striving for excellence, all of which occur in a personal/psychological and interpersonal environment of low criticism and negativity, and high support and esteem. (Rice, Leever, Noggle, and Lapsley 139-40)

For the most part, this is the positive type of perfectionism, which differs from another, sometimes more dangerous form: maladaptive or neurotic, often associated with “psychological impairment, including, but not restricted to, depression, suicidal ideation and tendencies, anxiety, and eating disorders” (139).

I am grateful I am the former type. But as someone who prefers order, organization, and careful attention to detail, closing on a house can be a bit, um, unsettling. It’s not the initial offer-making or the final signing of the paperwork that’s the problem but all the happenings in between—and ALL the people involved to make it happen.

You see, we applied for an unconventional (read: kinda weird) loan, one that allows new homeowners to combine their home purchase with home-improvement financing in one loan, with one closing. The traditional way of doing things would be to acquire a loan for the home and close, and then a few days or weeks or years later, take care of the construction by applying for a home renovation loan or a home equity line of credit.

But the loan we’ve acquired requires several more steps and people than the “normal” way of doing things—which, as one can imagine, is nerve-racking for an adaptive perfectionist. It’s one thing to be dependent on a handful of people for the success of your home purchase, but when nearly 20 are involved, it’s another thing entirely. Here’s a rundown of those required to complete this month-long process:

  1. our realtor
  2. the seller’s realtor
  3. the seller
  4. our attorney
  5. the seller’s attorney
  6. those pulling our credit scores
  7. the inspector
  8. the contractor
  9. the architect
  10. our insurance company
  11. our primary bank
  12. the bank through which we’d secure the loan (only certain banks provide this service)
  13. the appraiser
  14. the loan officer
  15. the loan processor
  16. the underwriting department
  17. the VP of sales (who worked tirelessly on this loan when the initial loan officer went AWOL)
  18. the title company, where we’ll meet today to close on this deal

That so many others (and not I) controlled our housing outcome is difficult for a perfectionist. It’s the same reason I’m not a fan of flying: two pilots in charge of the well-being of 250+ people in a situation in which I have no control just isn’t my cup of tea.

There have been several hiccups along the way—as is often the case with this many people involved—but we’ve made it to closing day. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for the “rebooting” that lies ahead as I’ll have virtually no power over that either. 🙂

— Kelli