How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse (or at Least Minimize It)

home buyer's remorse

If you’re like me and addicted to the convenience of Amazon Prime, you’ve probably made some unnecessary purchases from time to time. The other week, I felt completely overwhelmed when the boxes started to arrive after my most recent “1-click ordering” binge. Buyer’s remorse started to set in — you know, that feeling you get when you buy the wrong thing or you buy something for the wrong reason. Fortunately, Amazon is very forgiving when it comes to returns. You can send most items back for virtually any reason, even if the reason is simply that you shouldn’t have bought the item in the first place.

Forty-four percent of Americans have regrets about their current home or the process they went through when choosing it.

As shoppers, knowing that a company has a lenient return policy provides us with a sense of relief. The feeling of having that safety net makes the buying decision less stressful. After all, if things don’t work out, just send it back!

While it’s easy to return a pair of socks if you selected the wrong poly blend off the shelf, it’s a lot harder to get out of a home purchase if you miss the mark.

According to a Trulia report published this summer, 44 percent of Americans have regrets about their current home or the process they went through when choosing it. A survey by NerdWallet drills into the top five common qualms: purchasing a home that’s too expensive, purchasing a home that doesn’t fit your needs, not putting enough money down, not being organized and not shopping around for a loan. Yikes! By planning ahead, you can address these issues early on and save yourself from doubt.

As a home buyer, you can take steps to minimize the chance of having regrets and make confident decisions throughout the real estate transaction.

  1. Build a comprehensive budget of all housing-related expenses to ensure that you don’t find yourself under financial water.
  2. Create your needs and wants list. Put it down on paper. When you are considering a house, make sure to refer back to that list. Does the property check off the most important items?
  3. Weigh out the pros and cons of low down payment options. These loan products make home buying feasible to a wider buyer pool, but you’ll want to understand the drawbacks.
  4. Establish a filing system as soon as you start thinking about buying. Creating a home for all of your real estate-related paperwork and documents helps to provide some structure.
  5. Prioritize time to speak with a few lenders. Not only is it helpful to understand all of the programs that are available to you, but also it creates some healthy competition. You want lenders to compete for your business so that you can negotiate the best rate and terms.

Minimizing Buyer’s Remorse After an Offer is Accepted

Even if you follow the steps above, it’s normal to second-guess your decision and play the “what if” game. After receiving an accepted offer on a house, you will probably feel excited and then nervous. The nervous feeling usually stems from actions and behaviors that we take after getting an accepted offer or closing on the property. By understanding what causes these feelings, you can stop yourself from going down the buyer’s remorse rabbit hole.

Continuing to Look at Houses

Once you have a place under agreement, it’s time to cut the cord on the actual home search. Continuing to track inventory can put you on an emotional roller coaster. We do it as a way to validate our choice, but sometimes it can have the opposite effect. If you are someone who generally tends to second-guess your own decisions, then obsessing over new listings is probably going to cause you more harm then good.

Caring Too Much About Other People’s Two Cents

As soon as you share the news that you found your future home, everyone is going to come crawling out of the woodwork to share their opinions. Usually our family and friends mean well, but sometimes their comments make us question our decisions. If you get conflicting feedback, it can be even harder to keep a level head. Do your friends and family know the real estate market? Do they understand what’s important to you in a home or are they trying to force their agendas onto you? How relevant are their opinions?

For example, it’s only natural to want your parents’ blessing and approval on your home purchase. However, if they are out of touch with the times or with the market they may not understand the situation that you are in and the logic behind your decision.

Comparing Your Home Choice to Others

It’s only natural to compare and contrast your lifestyle and home buying choices to those of your friends. However, if this habit is creating a sense of inferiority then you need to redirect your thoughts to something more productive. You may feel some envy if your best friend was able to afford a house on the ocean while you’re trying to scrounge up the funds for a modest starter home. Using someone else’s more luxurious home as a benchmark can be a losing battle. Try to focus on your own business and what makes sense for you.

Being a Negative Nancy

Sometimes, it’s not the house we are second guessing, but the entire home buying process itself. Doubts start to creep in … What if I lose my job? How will I pay my mortgage? Nothing in life is certain. Try to reframe your mindset with positive instead of negative thoughts.

Not Getting the Right Support

If you’re having negative feelings, then surround yourself with people who can lift you up. Your buyer agent may be a great resource and should be able to remind and validate why you chose the house that you did. You can grab a coffee with your friends and peers who have also recently purchased. Talking about the process and what’s bothering you can help you to distress and not feel isolated. You may be surprised by how many other buyers are in the same exact boat as you!

What if Your Doubts are Legitimate?

In some situations, you may discover some negative attributes about a home that make you rethink your entire decision. For instance, the home inspection reveals more repair issues than you are willing to take on, or you uncover that the house has a dark past. If your concerns are valid, then work with your real estate agent to see if there are loopholes that allow you to pull out of the contract via a contingency or cancellation clause.