How to Avoid Home Buyer’s Remorse

home buyer's remorse

Home shopping can be an intense, emotional, long process. Here’s how to avoid catching a bad case of home buyer’s remorse.

Make sure you can answer the important questions

To avoid buyer’s remorse, stay grounded by asking yourself the following questions throughout the home-buying process:

1. Do I really need to ‘own’ or ‘win’ this house?

Often, in a competitive situation, a buyer just wants to win. If you’re competing and forced into a multiple-offer situation, step back and ask yourself: Is this the home I really want? Or do I just want to beat out the other buyers?

Also, has the potential purchase price exceeded the list price? Putting an offer on a home at $475,000 is one thing. But a few rounds of counter offers may bring the price up over $500,000. A price $25,000 higher can create an entirely different set of circumstances, and the home may no longer be right for you.

2. Have I seen the home more than once?

No matter how much you think you love a home, if you’ve only seen it once, you could be heading for buyer’s remorse. Going back in the evening or a different time of day provides another perspective. Also, you may see things differently the second time around. Often, you miss something in your first pass that stands out on subsequent visits.

3. Have I seen the home from every angle and spent time in every room?

A quick home tour provides a basic understanding of the floor plan, condition, and size. But to really know a home, you need to dig deeper. Walk to the end of the lot and look at the back of the home. Open every closet and go in the attic, basement, and garage (park your car in there, if you can). And look at the neighboring houses, too.

4. Have I seen a floor plan?

Reviewing an architectural floor plan provides an opportunity to see the home in a different context. It’s possible you’ll pick up on things you might have missed otherwise.

5. Have I reviewed the photos again after seeing the home?

Going back to the listing photos helps jog your memory. Seeing the pictures, which are snapshots in time, will give you a different perspective. Was the shade closed in the picture, and if so, why? Did you ever look out that window? Does the photo remind you that the bedrooms are small because there are only twin or queen-sized beds without any nightstands? These types of questions can help you evaluate if a home is right for you.

6. Have I had a private tour?

If you’re serious about a home, go back for a private showing, because it reveals more when you have time alone there.

7. Have I done due diligence?

If you haven’t seen or heard about any disclosures before making an offer, it could be a red flag. In many markets, disclosure packages are available before making an offer. If not, a good listing agent will reveal the major disclosure items verbally. Make sure the town sees the home as it is being presented to you, that all the rooms and renovations are legal and permitted. If you’re too busy to review the disclosures, don’t make an offer. Also, find out if there have been previous contractor’s inspection, termite, or other reports you haven’t seen yet.

8. Is this the home I wanted in the first place?

When buyers are in the throes of a competitive home market, it’s easy to settle for a home that “kind of” works, or to lapse into autopilot mode. You may just be ready to buy and be done with it. You don’t think about things like the commute from the new neighborhood to your job, that you aren’t the renovating type, or that you never signed up for the lawn mowing and maintenance issues associated with homeownership.

A good agent will bring you back to your original plan before you sign a contract. You and your agent should review all the reasons why the home isn’t the right option. It’s better to flesh that out in advance than to ignore the warning signs and cancel. If your agent tries to talk you out of a house, that’s a sign of a good agent.

The contingency safety net

To help protect you from buyer’s remorse, always have an inspection contingency in your purchase agreement. Reserve the inspection contingency for something serious about the property you didn’t know before signing on the dotted line. Some agents call it the “cold feet” or “buyer’s remorse” contingency. It allows you to exit the agreement if something comes up.

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