Top Real Estate Professionals Reveal How To Avoid First-Time Home Buyer’s Remorse
You may have read about home buyer’s remorse.
You’ve definitely heard some of your friends discuss how home buyer’s remorse caught them by surprise.
Yet, it all seemed very far away.
You and your partner have finally bought a house yourselves!
Exciting times, no?
Perhaps the first few days after you signed the contract, yes, but lo and behold, a week later, you’re starting to have all these thoughts whether you’ve made the right decision!
Maybe we should have had another look at the house around the corner?
Is this house really “the right one” for us?
What if we had presented them with a lower offer, we would have more financial breathing room now?
There’s simply no escaping having those questions pop up – most of which will have a very reasonable and quick answer. However, some might require a bit more research or explanation!
How does one avoid home buyer’s remorse?
I reached out to the following Top Real Estate Professionals and asked them exactly what they would advise (first-time) home buyers to do in order to avoid home buyer’s remorse:
- “Don’t Make Hasty Decisions” – Bill Gassett
- “Don’t Overextend Yourself” – Ryan Fitzgerald
- “Think Hard About Sweat Equity” – Tony Mariotti
- “Don’t Spend More Than You’re Comfortable With” – DJ Morris
- “Keep An Eye Out For Flooring Surprises” – Debbie Gartner
- “Don’t Ignore The Real Estate Agent’s Advice” – Joe Samson
- “Let’s Not Forget The Budget” – Kyle Hiscock
- “Do Your Homework” – David O’Doherty
- “Don’t Forget To Plan Ahead” – Lynn Pineda
- “Don’t Forget To Take Your Time” – Luke Skar
- “Don’t Overlook Importance of Location” – Anita Clark
- “You’re Not Shopping For Shoes – Thus, Shop Wisely” – Conor MacEvilly
- “Don’t Rush Things” – Paul Sian
- “Pick The Right Real Estate Agent” – Angela Duong
- “How Does Home Buyer’s Remorse Kick In” – Xavier De Buck
In order to find out some ways buyers can minimize the chances of feeling home buyer’s remorse, I reached out to Bill Gassett, a friend and one of the top Realtors in Hopedale MA to get his thoughts. Here is what Bill had to say:
Xavier, thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share my real estate expertise with your readers.
Without a doubt buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people will ever make in their lives!
It goes without saying any decision that is made should not be rushed.
Buyers should take the time to really think things through when there is even a thought of whether something could be an issue.
Here is an example:
Maybe the buyer has been looking for a 4 bedroom home, but ends up looking at a 3 bedroom that fits all the other criteria in their home search.
Some buyer may be perfectly fine with a 3 bedroom, as the 4th bedroom was not at the very top of their wish list.
For those buyers who have gone into the process thinking it is a must, they should step back and really think about what’s changed:
Is the home that special that the lack of a 4th bedroom can be overlooked?
Will this impact how their family lives?
Is there a place for an addition if down the road it becomes a must?
These are the kinds of questions that buyers should think about!
Thank you for the opportunity to address your audience, Xavier.
One of the biggest regrets a first-time home buyer will ever have is trying to overextend themselves financially on their first house.
Listen up first-time home buyers, because time and time again you’re making the SAME mistakes:
You don’t need to buy your dream home at 22 years old!
Heck, you don’t need to buy your dream home at 35 years old!
What you want to do as a first-time home buyer is buy a house that says “this is my first home”.
When my first-time buyer clients tell me they are searching for homes for sale in Apex, NC, the first thing they need to understand is that this is an expensive town. Ranked by Money Magazine as the best place to live in the U.S., Apex is a city where they will pay big bucks for a house compared to the neighbouring city of Holly Springs.
Too many first-time buyers want to buy their dream home before they can afford it!
And this is when a home becomes a liability instead of an asset.
It’s important for you to understand the difference.
Start by educating yourself on the home buying process, and learn from the mistakes of those before you.
You can avoid these mistakes (plus avoid home buyer’s remorse) and save yourself thousands of dollars with a few hours of educating yourselves!
How’s that for an ROI (Return On Investment)?
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your article, Xavier.
Imperfections are going to look like major flaws in a few months.
Prepare yourself for that eventuality!
A lot of first-time home buyers love the idea of finding and acquiring a fixer upper house.
You know, the home that needs new wood floors and a patched roof?
It’s certainly not an unreasonable idea; sweat equity is a proven way to build value.
What’s more, there’s a lot of pride that goes into completing major home improvements.
Just know that the enthusiasm and energy required to carry out those projects will likely go down after a few months of owing a property!
Those “imperfections” you planned on fixing will look a lot more like “big headaches.”
Nothing is more true than the saying, “Time is our most valuable resource.”
Indeed, it is a very valuable and very limited resource.
If you want to buy a rehab home, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what that means in terms of your time.
Time for projects can be pretty intense if you plan on starting a family: raising children will take every last bit of your free time.
Juggling new family responsibilities along with home remodeling would be very taxing.
Also, young professionals in demanding occupations will have less free time for home renovation tasks: meeting one’s career ambitions requires much more than standard 40-hour work weeks.
Will you really have the energy to take on big rehab projects?
Or will you be faced with home buyer’s remorse in the end?
Home buyer’s remorse is common for first-time home buyers.
After closing on your first property, the bills start coming and never stop; you have a monthly mortgage payment, insurance, HOA fees, property taxes and utilities.
All this can overwhelm any new homeowner!
The biggest thing I see that causes remorse for a first time home buyer is spending more than you can comfortably afford.
There is no better feeling than living in a property that increases in value, which down the road allows you to use the additional equity to purchase a new and improved home.
As a Jupiter Realtor and property investor myself, I know first-hand the importance of not paying too much, and through 18 years of experience, I want to share the formula I use to avoid buyer remorse and know you are getting a fair deal.
Just because it seems like a good deal, does not mean that the current comparable properties have not swayed more to the side of favouring the sellers.
Let’s face it:
I have never seen a home buyer, who got a great deal, have any buyer remorse!
First, even though you are looking to buy, have your Realtor find out what comparable homes are renting for per month.
Second, once you establish the rent, you multiply that by 12 (months) and divide that by the sales price which will give you the gross rental yield.
For example, here is how this looked for the last investment property I bought: $2,200 x 12 / $265,000 = 0.0996 which is equivalent to 9.96% gross rental yield.
As an investor, I would want this number to be above 9%, but for a primary residence above 6% would work.
The reason this is important is that life changes and real estate cycles have always been cyclical.
If you ever get relocated or lose your job, you can always rent out your home and come close to breaking even on your monthly expenses and not fall into the dreaded hole of being upside down on your home.
Most new home owners are looking for hardwood flooring in their new homes.
I’ve seen many new home buyers that were disappointed (and now have home buyer’s remorse) because they thought they had regular solid hardwood floors or thought they could easily add them.
After closing, they later learn that they can’t change the color of their hardwood floors…or worse, they need to completely remove them and replace them (which is very costly) or there are height limitations (due to metal doors, cabinets/appliances and heating units) that prevent them from getting the floors of their dreams.
These surprises come up most often in with first time home buyers looking at condos, co-ops and townhouses, as they are often over a concrete slab and not built as well.
Now, the good news is that these surprises are easily avoidable.
Some of buyers have regretted buying the home, a few even broke down in tears, and most just resign themselves to knowing that they need to settle (e.g. pay much more than they were expecting, get an inferior wood or delay their wood flooring for 2-3 years while they save up.
The most important things to look for are:
If you are adding hardwood floors:
- Understand your sub-floor (i.e. is it concrete or plywood?). It will have the biggest impact on what you can/can’t do (i.e. solid vs engineered flooring). Hint: plywood will generally be better.
- Is there enough clearance for new hardwood flooring? If you are installing solid, you need 3/4 of an inch for the wood…and if there’s no plywood, you’ll need 1 1/2 of an inch (3/4″ for plywood + 3/4″ for solid wood).
If you are buying a home that already has hardwood floors:
- Determine if the home has solid or engineered flooring. (Solid is generally preferred and can be refinished many times.)
- If the house is from the 1950’s or 1960’s, peak under the carpet to make sure there is no asbestos tile under the carpet and on top of the plywood (as this will prevent you from being able to refinish the wood floors). If you have 9 x 9 vinyl tile, there is a good chance you have a problem.
You can read much more about this, and other areas to watch out for in this article mentioned in my introduction.
Almost without exception, buying a home involves a great emotional experience for everyone, but it can trap first-time home buyers if they don’t have an experienced real estate agent helping them and advocating their best interests!
When a first-time home buyer decides to take the plunge and submit that offer, they are stepping out of their comfort zone, which may cause fear and anxiety to creep up on them.
Owning a home comes with great financial responsibilities that may give the jitters to most buyers!
Buyers may start second-guessing themselves whether they will like the new neighbourhood, or what’s going to happen to their hard earned money if real estate prices were to drop in the future.
These are all valid concerns and fears that should have been addressed by an experienced agent ahead of viewing homes!
As hard as it may sound, home buyers need to be able to eliminate their subjective emotions and they need to be able to make rational decisions based on facts and sound advice.
The most effective way to conquer home buyer’s remorse is by properly preparing your home buying plans and clearly understanding your goals.
There are usually 2 possible reasons why a home buyer may want to back out of a deal in the last minute:
- The first cause of home buyer’s remorse is that they may not be sure about their own financial capability of being able to afford the home. Even though they may already be approved for a mortgage, the new homeowners may be afraid of becoming “house poor” by not having any money left at the end to support their lifestyle, as the mortgage payments are sucking their bank account dry every month!
This concern can easily be eliminated and should be dealt with by creating household budget prior to determining the maximum search price of listings to consider.
- The second possible home buyer’s remorse often concerns the property itself. By establishing one’s needs and wants ahead of time will not only help them avoid changing the buyer’s mind, but it will also help them to flag the right property that they have been looking for.
A prepared checklist of preferences of the house and neighbourhood is going to assist a home buyer to review and evaluate whether their decision is in line with their plans.
Preparing yourself in advance is by far the best way to cope with home buyer’s remorse.
An experienced real estate agent is going to start you off by educating and information you of all these important steps that you should be taking before you start your home search journey.
Some home buyers get turned off by the idea of consulting with a real estate agent, as being the first step of the buying process.
The truth is that the more questions you can ask and information that you can receive, the better prepared you are going to become and the chances of being caught with home buyer’s remorse will certainly be eliminated in your home buying experience.
The ultimate answer to avoiding home buyer’s remorse is by finding a top notch real estate agent in your court!
Thank you Xavier for reaching out to get some insight into this important topic!
Avoiding home buyer’s remorse is something that every first time buyer should seek to do.
There is nothing worse than the feeling after buying a home that you made a terrible decision.
My biggest piece of advice for first time buyers is to make sure you stick to your budget!
Owning a home comes with many expenses that are often forgotten, such as utilities, groceries, and insurance.
Buying a home that is above a budget can put significant financial stress on a first time buyer.
It’s important that before buying your first home, you sit down and calculate all of the costs associated with owning a home.
This will help ensure you stick to your budget and don’t over extend yourself!
Home buyer’s remorse can happen both when you buy a house and when you don’t buy a house!
The first instance can occur when home buyers have not done their homework, over extended their budget or turned a blind eye to the negatives of the house.
Setting your expectations long before you start looking for a home and getting the advice of a local Realtor is key to avoiding buyer’s remorse.
You have to know the market you want to buy a home in, is it a seller’s market (harder for buyers) or a buyer’s market (much better!).
A seller’s market means homes are in demand, prices are rising and you may be in competition with other buyers for the same house.
This is when people make mistakes and either pay too much or find out something about the house they don’t like after they own it. That something can be serious if the buyers did not do their due diligence before closing.
Even when using a top real estate agent, home buyers need to take responsibility for getting the information that is important to them.
If you have a specific school in mind you want your kids to go to, don’t rely on what the listing agent says, call the school district and confirm it for yourself.
What about the HOA rules or Restrictive Covenants?
Will you be allowed to do what you like in the community you’re buying a house in?
Some communities have very relaxed rules, while others have pages and pages of rules and guidelines.
Unfortunately, most home buyers never read them but quickly find out what they say when it comes time to make changes to their new home.
Future development or highway projects can cause buyer’s remorse for the new homeowners when it negatively affects their new living arrangements.
That open space behind the home of your dreams could become a Wal-Mart some day.
Zoning regulations and future transportation plans can be researched in advance of buying a home and any known major projects should be disclosed to potential buyers…should!
Here is a list of Seven Things Every Home Buyer Should Check For Themselves; don’t rely on anyone else’s opinion if any of these conditions are important to you and your home buying experience.
What about home buyer’s remorse that happens when you wait too long and the home of your dreams gets sold to someone else?
Again doing your homework, discovering what exactly you want/need in a house is key to avoiding buyer’s remorse when looking for a new home.
Make a list of must haves and a list of would like to have, that way if a house comes on the market and it has all your must haves, you’re halfway there.
Avoid that aching, gnawing feeling of thinking, “Oh my, what was I thinking when I bought this house”!
What an awful mental state to have to experience after moving into your new home!
Your first home purchase is supposed to be all about joy and excitement; you’ve just closed on your very own place to call home.
You don’t feel like that: you feel overwhelmed and home buyer’s remorse has set in and drawn all the joy from your being.
It doesn’t have to be this way if you’re buying your first home.
Follow these 5 simple steps below and you’ll end up with joy in your soul over your new home.
- Plan well in advance of buying a home by preparing your credit for optimal credit terms – you’ll find that you’ll receive a more attractive rate of interest with your financing when your credit has been cleaned up and fine tuned.
- Save money for a down payment on your home – lessen your mortgage payment with putting more money down. Less worry about making ends meet each month.
Who doesn’t like the sound of that, less worry?!
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage – know how much home you can buy with your pre-approval so you can avoid disappointment searching for homes where you won’t qualify.
Nothing is worse than visiting a home you love only to later find out that you can’t afford the home and you must start looking at lower priced homes. Imagine that?
- Research the area and neighborhoods you’re considering.
Drive by them during the day, night and weekends – this avoids later discovering that the neighborhood isn’t everything you had thought, being less than ideal.
- Be flexible and don’t seek perfection, even if you are usually a perfectionist!
Planning ahead will enable you to prepare yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone – there will be some give and take with the Seller of the home you’re seeking to buy and it’s your first home, so prioritizing your home’s features is the best way to find a home that will suit your needs and wants.
See, it’s not that difficult when you plan ahead!
Now go buy a home!
People like to shop and buy new things. That is why so many retail stores and online shopping sites exist.
However, nobody likes to get something new only to discover a few days or weeks later that it really does not meet their style, or worse, their needs.
Since buying a home is usually a very expensive transaction it makes sense to take precautions in order to avoid first-time home buyer’s remorse.
- Look Over Everything
One simple thing that any potential homebuyer can do is to take time to go through each and every room of the house. This also includes any available attic or basement.
You should be able to tell your friends and family that you truthfully went through each room on your own and inspected the walls, windows, flooring, electrical outlets, heating and air conditioning vents and anything else that is in the room.
- Take Your Own Pictures
With smartphones and readily available digital cameras, it is a simple thing for you to take pics of the property during your inspection. This will allow you to have something you can review later and compare to other properties.
You can also compare the pics to the photos supplied by the real estate agent and see if there are any noticeable differences.
- Look at the House Again and Again and Again
You should always visit a home with your real estate agent present if you wish to enter the property. However, there is more to a home than just the stuff on the inside. Look for time in your schedule and plan multiple visits to your potential new home.
Ideally, you would drive by the home approximately the same time you expect to leave for work, come home from work and at least once on the weekend.
During these visits, take note of several things: what is the traffic like? What are your neighbors doing? Is there something that would irritate you or make you feel uneasy?
These trips will help you decide if this is the right neighborhood for you and if you will be truly happy with your new living arrangements.
To sum this up, the easiest way to avoid first time home buyer’s remorse is to simply take your time. Review everything about the home, in detail.
This will help you to uncover any unsatisfactory items BEFORE you finalize your mortgage!
First-time home buyers are often young couples just starting out, families with school age children, or those on a budget looking to maximize space at a minimal price.
In many instances, they are also moving locales to start a career.
With any or all of these factors in play, it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of purchasing your first home and end up with some degree of home buyer’s remorse.
Those looking to spend less but get more may have to buy near a busy road, commercial center, or other less than optimal locale to get the square footage they covet.
Families may bypass many of their home needs to ensure their kids are in a particular school district.
Others may be fixated on a particular setting (near work or amenities) and not take into account the neighborhood or even all the home details.
Thankfully, an easy way to minimize the chance of having home buyer’s remorse is to ensure you purchase a home in a good location!
This is especially important for first-time buyers, many of which will end moving again in 3-7 years as their families grow.
While you may give up a little space or end up purchasing near the top of your range, by purchasing a home in a good location your home will have plenty of appeal with buyers when you are ready to put it on the market in the future.
Whatever you decide to do, ensure you discuss your options with a local real estate expert before making your choice.
While it is important to act promptly, so another buyer does not go under contract on the home you covet, it is more important to weigh all your options, and purchase the right home in the right location.
Happy house hunting!
Unlike a pair of shoes, when you buy a home, it doesn’t come with a receipt that, in the event you change your mind, you can take it to the customer service counter and get your money back!
You are stuck with the home and it’s going to last a lot longer than a pair of shoes (unless they’re Italian leather of course).
So shop wisely!
While searching Seattle homes for sale, the actual home you buy is obviously important, I think the neighborhood where you buy is equally important.
Like most Realtors, I always ask buyers “what are your top 3 neighborhood choices”.
The amount of mortgage you are pre-approved for will dictate which neighborhoods you can afford to buy in, for the type of home you are hoping to buy.
Not all of us can afford to live in the top neighborhoods, myself included and I’m perfectly happy where I am.
I see little red warning flags pop up when a buyer who has been focusing on a particular set of neighborhoods and maybe is struggling to find a home there, will out the blue send me a home from an area 10 miles away.
My first response is: “How well do you know that neighborhood?” to which the reply is usually: “Not very, but look at THAT house!”
It’s good to be flexible when buying a home, especially in a strong sellers’ market. However, buying a home well outside your familiarity zone is not a good idea.
Quiet isolation may sound nice, but you may soon end up quite isolated: from the schools, the lifestyle and walkability you had listed as important to you when you drew up your home buying wish list.
I tell people relocating to Seattle for a new job and who are not very familiar with the area, don’t buy straight away, rent for a while and get to know the differences between the various neighborhoods.
So, is it better to buy a “lesser” home in the neighborhood you really want or a “more” home in an area you are not too keen on or barely know?
In my experience, home buyer’s remorse happens a lot more often when having bought into a neighborhood that was not a good match for them vs. buyers who regretted the actual home they purchased.
Having a Realtor who is not afraid to give you a reality check can be invaluable rather than an agent who just wants your signature on that offer and a quick closing.
At the end of the day, it is, and should be, completely your choice as to what home you buy and where you buy it.
But do keep the receipt for those shoes, just in case.
One of the best ways to avoid home buyer’s remorse is by making sure you visit the home you are interested at least two to three times before you commit to making an offer!
Those visits to the home should also be done on different days and at different times of the day.
So, if you visited a home the first time in the morning, the next time you should try and schedule a visit in the evening, so you have a different perspective with the time of day and can view things under a different light (literally).
Even better would be to visit the second time with some additional people as well.
If you visited the home alone or with your significant other the first time then bring along your parents or brothers/sisters or some close friends to tour the home with you the second time and ask them to be honest and objective about what they see. The family or friends you bring along can give you some honest opinions about home features and may see things that you miss or overlook.
A home purchase is a long-term commitment that also requires a long term investment of money to stay in the home.
If you pick the wrong home, it is not as easy as returning a new jacket to the store now that you suddenly realize does not feel all that comfortable after using it for an hour.
With a home purchase you are stuck with that home and there are no refunds or money back guarantees.
Just because a market may be moving fast does not mean you should jump at the first home you truly like because there can always be other problems with the home that are not apparent at first that may make you regret the purchase.
Instead, take your time and have other people walk with you through the home before you make an offer so you do not get stuck with something that you later end up hating.
As a first-time home buyer it is especially important to think about your choices so that you don’t have home buyer’s remorse.
You want your first time home buying experience to be a good one!
A few tips I would suggest are:
- Stay within a comfortable budget. Many first-time home buyers are young, and haven’t yet started a family. Some also are still going to college.
You will want to keep your house payment as comfortable as possible to allow for changes to budget for a growing family or have funds for college.
- Be sure to get a home inspection. A home inspection is very important so that you are aware of what may be wrong with the home. With the report you can then decide what you want the seller to fix, and what you are comfortable in fixing yourself.You may also find that the house needs more work that you want to take on. Save yourself from buyer’s remorse and cancel the contract on the home if you find it would be too overwhelming to fix.
- Choose the right agent to represent you. Having a buyer’s agent is a must. They are going to be able to educate you, and walk you through the entire process of home buying. A great agent will answer all your questions, and will also guide you and warn you of what you should look out for.I have heard far too many complaints from first-time home buyers feeling that their agent didn’t tell them enough, and were disappointed in the home they bought after they moved in.
How does home buyer’s remorse actually kick in?
We all sure know what it feels like!
But, what is the tipping of the balance for someone to get a case of home buyer’s remorse?
Well, based on my personal experience, it can pretty much be explained by each (or combination of) the following 3 scenarios:
#1 — Getting poor real estate agent advice
It’s not uncommon for real estate agents to suddenly be hard to reach or only be sporadically available for help once the offer to purchase contract has been signed!
Wouldn’t the presence and guidance of a real estate professional along the entire home buying process be awesome?!
Isn’t that how it should be!?
Knowing that the real estate agent has your back and can be relied on for any questions or doubts you may have is an enormous help already.
A lot of times, any ‘panicky situations’ or questions raising doubts by the home buyer will have the agent on your side in no time, explaining everything again what to expect next.
For most (first-time) home buyers, having property issues or questions isn’t something they’re used to dealing with!
It’ll be up to the real estate agent to manage expectations ahead, during and after the signing of the contracts!
And guess what?
In the vast majority of the cases, all those worries about home buyer’s remorse will be gone in no time!
#2 — House shopping continues
So, you’ve decided that you really liked that one particular house, put in an offer and it got accepted!
Why on earth would you then continue looking at other houses?
Unless of course you never felt comfortable with the signed contract in the first place?
Wouldn’t you be rather 110% sure about the ‘chosen property’, and go look one final time at those other few properties before putting your signatures on paper on that one?
You’ll save yourself, the agents and home seller a lot of unnecessary drama and frustration, no?
#3 — Opinions from friends and family
So, you and your partner have fallen in love with the property, and would now like to have a few 2nd opinions.
Here come the close friends, parents, parent in-laws, etc to the next viewing.
Afterwards, they seem to be of the opinion that although it’s a pretty house, you’re clearly overpaying, and that “you can get better elsewhere”.
A lot of times, they might have the best intention, but are clearly out of their depth.
You’ve spent countless hours done your homework, seen plenty of comparable properties, researched the schools and neighbourhood, and you can honestly say that you’re really liking everyone you see!
They live on the other side of town and now had a quick 10-minute walk-through the property?
And now everyone is a real estate specialist?
Whereas we’ve seen quite a very interesting and helpful individual pointers on how to avoid first-time home buyer’s remorse from these real estate professionals described above, I would like to make sure to mention that home buyer’s remorse isn’t a rare situation.
If anything, it’s quite common to have home buyers start doubting themselves once they’ve signed!
As with most problems, it’s very important to recognize that there’s an issue.
It all comes down to preparation ahead of time!
Hopefully, you’ll be properly guided by your real estate agent at that point, or you will have searched online for informational articles such as this one with tons of advice on how to avoid home buyer’s remorse!
— Xavier De Buck (@XavierDeBuck) August 10, 2016
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About the author: The above article “Top Real Estate Professionals Reveal How To Avoid First-Time Home Buyer’s Remorse” was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent with Luxury Division of Chas Everitt International Group. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.
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