What is buyer's remorse? It is usually defined as having second thoughts after making a significant purchase. A buyer will question the decision he or she made usually if it involves buying a house or car. Is it a normal reaction? Can it be avoided? How does it affect everyone and what can be done about it?
I think it is a very normal reaction and as a realtor, I would like to just focus on buyer's remorse as it pertains to a home purchase. Buying a home is probably your single largest investment. Once reality sets in and you realize you may own that home for a long time, a buyer may begin to panic. What if a better home comes along? What if I didn't look long enough? What if I paid too much? What if the market goes down? What if my family does not like it or thinks I made a bad investment? The questions begin to mount and the buyer thinks maybe he or she made a poor decision.
Let's start with the home buying process first. When you first begin to look, you should have a list of things that you would like in a home. Those things might be a spacious backyard, a minimum of 3 bedrooms, a two car garage, at least 1.5 baths and a full basement. You might also have a wish list. Those might be things that would be wonderful to have but would not prevent you from a purchase if they were unavailable in the home. Examples might be a gas fireplace, 9 foot ceilings on the first floor, hardwood floors in all the bedrooms and a swimming pool. Your thought process might be that you could always add the hardwoods, the pool and a fire place is not that important. You should also have a budget for your home. You should be preapproved and know how much you can afford to spend. Have the lender let you know what your payments will be with a certain interest rate and make sure you know how the property and school taxes will affect that payment. Know the closing costs associated with the loan.
There are now no surprises...right? You know what you want in a home. You know how much you can afford. What you do not know and will never know is what will happen in the market. Ask yourself this...do you know what will happen in the stock market tomorrow, next week or a year from now? How about 5 years from now? I ask my financial advisor all the time. I have yet to get an answer. At least as a realtor, I am able to give my clients an answer as to how I see the real estate market doing this year and most likely next.
We also have to stop thinking of our homes as an investment! They are our homes...where we live, create memories, make a family, find comfort, relax, laugh, play, entertain friends and maybe even welcome a pet.
If you are prepared, you may buy the first home you see and guess what...there is nothing wrong with that! On the other hand, you may have to look at 20 homes before you find the home of your dreams and there is nothing wrong with that either! Once you find that home...stop looking. Take yourself off of Trulia, Realtor.com and Zillow and every other search site. Don't ask people if they think you made the right decision. Of course you did...you were prepared! Plus the fact, you are buying it for you and not them!
Don't write a contract unless you are sure this is the home for you. Better to look at it a few times than jump before you are ready. Why do I say this? Put yourself in the seller's position. He or she or they are on the market to sell. They have plans also. They may be looking for a new home; moving to a new area. Along comes your contract and they are all excited. They think their home is sold and then the next day, you get buyer's remorse. You call your agent and tell them you want "out of the deal." How would you feel if you were the seller? You feel relieved and you go on and find another home. The seller is left wondering why? What happened? What was wrong with my home? Will someone else come along and buy it and will this happen to me again? Think about the agent who has to break the news to them that you had buyer's remorse. Not a good situation for anyone.
Be prepared. Be positive. Take a second or third look if it makes you more comfortable. Make sure you are working with a full-time experienced real estate agent and lender. Expect to have second thoughts. Everyone does...it is normal. Then take a deep breath and enjoy the process of buying a home!
Associate Broker and Accredited Stage
Coldwell Banker Prime Properties
Clifton Park, New York