Millennials, First Time Home Buyers And Buyer’s Remorse

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.

I researched the topic til my eyes were red, swollen and felt like fire! I know it’s real; I know it’s terrifying; I know there are ways to minimize it.

Buyer’s remorse is a sickening topic to consider when the purchase is a home.  It’s not a pair of ill-fitting shoes or an ugly sofa to be returned or cast off and forgotten. I’m amazed to discover statistics are all over the board regarding – well, statistics!  But certain things jumped out at me.  Socio-economic status was deemed irrelevant.  The phenomena seems more prevalent among millennials (who want to diy, but often discover the scope of work is outside their skill set or the cost becomes prohibitive) and first time home buyers (who get swept away in their excitement).

The purchase of a home can easily overwhelm. So, what can you do? Identify each step before you tackle the process, break it down into bite size pieces, and make it manageable.  Part of my job is to help you focus on your requirements and goals. Needs first. Wants are a bonus and depend on your budget. A bit of thought and planning, some serious brainstorming, these things are not a waste of time. 

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So, let’s look at the most common regrets, in no particular order of importance.

  1. The house is too small, too large, has the wrong floor plan.  Analyze and answer these points.
    • How long do you plan to be in the home?
    • Consider your current household size and how you foresee changes over the next several years.
    • Are there any hobbies that require special consideration?
    • Does anyone office from home?  Do you home school? 
    • Is a workshop a need or a want?
    • Do you entertain?  Have frequent overnight guests?
    • Does your time at home center around the kitchen, the living area or game room?
    • Does anyone in the family have special needs that would require wider hallways, single story, lower counters, special equipment?
    • Do you want or need yard space for outdoor play and enjoyment?  Is gardening a hobby? 
    • Do you have pets?  Is a pool desirable? Is it feasible, considering the added expense?
  2. The buyer is unhappy with mortgage type, payment amount, payment structure, interest rate, insurance, property taxes.
    • Talk to your Realtor.  (That would be me.)
    • Re-examine your wants and needs. 
    • Think about commute, schools, the importance of convenience. 
    • The size, value and amenities of the home.  Prioritize. Talk to your lender.  If the lender says you qualify for $500,000, that doesn’t mean you must purchase a home in that price range. 
    • Ask about different loan products – what work best for your needs?
    • What can be changed and what can’t?
    • Tax rate (Is it feasible for you to look at properties where taxes are less expensive?)
    • Price range (Be honest about wants/needs; is this home a starter?  Don’t be shy about discussing it with family members and friends – those whose opinions you trust.)  Prioritizing has never been more important.
    • Budget – you know your spending habits better than anyone else.  Create a realistic budget you can stick with. 
    • Be honest and realistic.  I say that alot, but that’s because we easily deceive ourselves. Determine what you believe your TOTAL payment amount should be (principle, taxes, interest, insurance) and pad it just a bit.  See how it aligns with your lender’s thoughts.
    • Take into consideration maintenance, HOA fees, special assessments – anything that applies.  Then stay focused and steadfast. 
  3. There’s too much maintenance or it’s too expensive.
    • Know your strengths. 
    • Some people like to tinker and others don’t. 
    • Research how much of your budget should be set aside for upkeep.  Consider the age of the home. Before you commit.
  4. The HOA is too strict, too lax, too high, doesn’t have the right amenities.
    • Again, talk to your agent.  (Me!)
    • Consider your lifestyle. 
    • Find the neighborhood that works for you. 
    • Do you need a gym, playground, pool, community center? 
    • Ask the neighbors about their experiences with the HOA and its management style.  This is a serious investment.  Don’t be shy.  Ask your agent – me – to go with you. 
  5. The location is wrong. What does that mean?
    • Is the neighborhood inconvenient?
    • Too far from work, church, school, shopping, medical, family?
    • Too noisy?  Traffic, children, neighbors?
    • Prone to flooding? This information should be provided to you but don’t hesitate to ask!
    • High crime rate? Check with local law enforcement, neighbors – visit the area at different times of the day, and night.  Drive through on different days.  Weekends are not like weekdays.
  6. Is the neighborhood bad?  What does bad mean?  Neighborhoods change.  Neighbors come and go.  It’s cyclical.  Kids grow up.  Change is constant.
    • Determine what you require in your space to be happy, but be aware that next year, next week, maybe even tomorrow, the neighbors you adore may relocate.  The perfect babysitter will grow up and move away. 
    • There will be changes in your own household.
    • Are the schools inadequate?  This is big to research before you make an offer.  Determine your requirements and go personally to ask questions.  Don’t ask the agent.  Or the neighbors.  They may know generalities, but you require specifics here.
    • Is it the way the home is situated on the lot?  This isn’t always as trivial as you may think! Too much sun during the heat of the day?  Windows too large?  Inadequate lighting?
  7. It was a bad investment. 
    • Ask your agent – yes, that would be me – for local market information. 
    • Get an idea of sales for the past year or so. 
    • Talk to neighbors and check with the county appraisal district.  That said, the market changes, shifts, warps.  It’s fluid and has a life of its own. 
    • Consider the home’s updates in comparison to others in the neighborhood.  Is it similar in condition and amenities?
    • Does your budget allow for the repairs and updates required?
    • Are you familiar with fixer-uppers and willing to take on the challenge presented?

Take advantage of your resources – and they’re considerable.  Your agent, lender, neighbors, schools, police department – there’s amazing information available at your fingertips.

And what if you’ve already closed on your home? 

  • Remind yourself why you chose your home in the first place by pulling out your initial list of preferences and reviewing it. Chances are your new home still meets the criteria of what’s most important to you.
  • Stop looking at home listings — doing so will only lead to “what-ifs” and “could-have-beens.” Instead, focus on learning to love the home you live in and make a plan to fix the features you’re most dissatisfied with.
  • If you hate your mortgage, the good news is you don’t have to be stuck with it forever — or even for the next 30 years.  You can refinance your home into a new mortgage that better meets your needs. However, you may face new closing costs and have to go through the whole mortgage shopping and application process again.  Still, refinancing could be your chance to get a home loan that fits your financial and home ownership goals.
  • Call me to update your market analysis. An annual update will keep you informed about the market in your neighborhood and how it impacts your home value.

Note:  Some of the data I’ve used to prepare this article was pulled from Trulia, HGTV, CNBC, and MarketWatch, EXCEPT my responses to the most common regrets.  I’ve been an agent quite a while and this is simply my experience. 

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