Buyer’s remorse is nauseating enough when it is brought on by a pair of pricey shoes or a quickly digested dinner. Imagine that feeling hitting as you sit in your brand new house, papers signed, moving trucks emptied, down payment long gone. It’s not just nauseating anymore. You might need a doctor.
A home purchase is just like any big life decision in that there is no way of knowing if you are making the right choice until after the deed is done; however, there are plenty of steps you can take to avoid that vomit-worthy sensation of regret.
Know Your Budget
The first and most essential step of house-hunting is this: be honest about your budget with the realtor, and more importantly, with yourself. We aren’t here to impress anybody, and keeping up with the Jones’ is so 2006. But seriously, take a moment and really study your budget. New to this idea? Microsoft Office has some great templates to get you started.
Next, set a realistic range for your mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, and do not forget the down payment. How much can you actually bring to the table at closing? Check out the Ruoff mortgage calculator to see what down payments and monthly payments look like for varying amounts and interest rates.
And finally, the hardest part – once you have determined your final number, stick to it! Do not waver, even when those granite counter tops and talking refrigerator call your name (literally).
Do Your Research
The internet is your friend. This might not be true in all areas of life, but when it comes to house-hunting, it is fact. Do a lot of online searches. Scour the photos. Read the descriptions – the entire descriptions. Helpful details can be hidden in the text, and you will miss them if you simply browse the perfectly staged pictures.
You can also search past purchase prices which can indicate problems such as foreclosures, damage, or neglect. If the home was purchased for significantly less within the last few years, chances are it wasn’t always as shiny and new as it appears in its current state. Get answers on what happened and what has been done to get the house into shape again. Local township offices are helpful in tracking down this information and can confirm if proper permits were pulled.
Stretch Your Comfort Zone
Once you have determined your budget and completed some research, grab your favorites from the list, including a couple that are slightly outside the qualifications of your “dream home.”
For example, if you tend to like open floor plans, walk through a house that is the opposite of what you think you want. This does one of two things: it either reinforces what you already thought to be true and avoids what-ifs down the road, or you discover that…you were wrong! You actually love open floor plans! Who knew? You certainly wouldn’t have if you had not taken the time to explore something different.
Weigh Your Options
The tried and true pros and cons list might seem a tad elementary, but it can prove really helpful. It forces you (and your partner if applicable) to sit down and discuss what you like and dislike about a property. It can bring some surprises, too. A house that emits the feel you are seeking, and thus lands at the top of your list, might actually fall to the bottom when you realize it is missing essential elements that you overlooked initially because of the appealing color scheme and layout.
Once you’ve compiled your lists, rank the houses in order and schedule viewings for the top few again. Do your best to keep all emotions in check and let your logic (and hand-written pros and cons) help you determine the front-runner.
Take Your Time
This is not a race. Use as much time as you need to get comfortable with the process. Do not rush this decision, and if it seems that your realtor is applying pressure, let them know where you stand. Once the papers are signed, your agent doesn’t stick around to help make those payments. The decision to purchase or not purchase should be on your timeline alone.
Given the current housing market and its quickly disappearing homes, you might feel a bit frantic when that “perfect” house pops up on your screen. You cross your fingers that it is available to see the following day. The realtor sets up the appointment and immediately lets you know that this one “isn’t going to stay on the market long, you know! Lots of eager buyers lined up to see this one.”
That may be true, but do not let it push you into a decision you are not ready to make. Walk through the house a few times. Give yourself a night or two (or longer) to mull it over before another viewing. Get answers to the questions you have. Hire a home inspector to obtain a professional’s perspective on the house. Get comfortable in your choice to move forward.
There aren’t any gold stars for the person who buys a house the fastest. That is not an award you would want anyways (unless you have a puke bucket handy). What you should be shooting for is that feeling of contentment that comes when you have successfully purchased the home you were meant to find, in the timeline that fits for you. No buyer’s remorse necessary.