Homebuyer’s remorse is a real thing. Right after the joy and excitement of walking into a newly-purchased home comes the second-guessing. Buying a home is, for many, the single biggest purchase they will ever make, and that brings with it anxiety and fear. Even people who carefully weighed the pros and cons and did their research often experience some regret afterward.
According to a national survey of 1,000 U.S. homeowners conducted by Hippo, the property insurance company based in Palo Alto, California, 63% of homebuyers between the ages of 28 and 38 regretted buying the home they did. And while other age groups are less regretful, homebuyer’s remorse cuts across the board and happens to a full 52% of all buyers.
“Keep in mind that some remorse is natural,” says Andrea Collins, vice president of Marketing for Hippo. “But if you develop a process that includes realistic expectations of what home ownership entails, you can minimize or avoid it altogether and keep some of the joy you felt the first time you walked through the front door.”
“Especially for first-time home buyers, it is important to understand all that’s involved in home ownership,” says Steve Wilson, senior underwriting manager at Hippo. “Costs include property taxes, routine home maintenance, periodic repairs, property insurance and utility costs. If someone has been renting, they may not be aware of some of these ongoing financial commitments.”
In addition to feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending expense, new homeowners are often surprised by the amount of maintenance work a house requires.
“78% of all homeowners have at least one task they dread,” says Andrea Collins. “For many, the remorse is mostly about care.”
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Steve Wilson suggests that the best way to avoid being blindsided by maintenance issues is to go into the purchase with eyes wide open.
“You need a process of learning everything you can about a house before you buy it. Look carefully at every part of the roof. Inspect the gutters. Examine the siding, looking for any signs of decay or damage. Then, go inside. Look at the framing, either in the attic or somewhere else it’s exposed to view, that will show you how the house was built. Throughout the house, look for signs of water damage. And, do what’s most often neglected: examine the systems, including the plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling systems.
“Then,” Wilson adds, “Have the house inspected by a licensed professional.”
Collins adds that potential home buyers already have a licensed professional in their camp who can be a great resource.
“Your realtor knows the neighborhood, the schools, the characteristics of the area. Lean on them and ask lots of questions.”
Homebuyer’s remorse is often a byproduct of overheated real estate markets, where the pressures exerted by limited inventory and bidding wars cause potential buyers to forgo professional inspections and to rush into a decision. Wilson and Collins counsel homebuyers to resist the pressure and to take their time.
“But if you do experience remorse,” Collins says, “Talk to a realtor, who may help you to understand how much of what you’re feeling is natural. It may also help to write a love letter to your home, where you list all the things that made you fall for it in the first place.”
If, after all that, you still wish you had not bought the house you did, Wilson suggests that renting the property may be a solution. But if you bought it in a rush, you may be able to easily unload it.
“If the local market is overheated, then you should be able to sell it fairly quickly,” he says. “Hopefully, at no loss in value.”