How to deal with homebuyer's remorse

By Mark Rosanes

Purchasing a home is likely one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make – and for investments of this magnitude, it is easy to second-guess yourself.

Questions like “have I made the right decision?,” “did I pay too much?,” “have I taken too much debt?,” or “what if a better property comes up?” can often replace the sense of accomplishment and excitement of owning a new home with that of self-doubt, anxiety, and dread.

Experts call this lingering feeling homebuyers’ remorse – which is a perfectly normal reaction, according to many. Some experts even say it is a healthy reaction and reflects your desire to get the best property. 

What is homebuyers’ remorse?

Buyer’s remorse, or what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, is that feeling of mental unease and tension that happens when you are at odds with your own thoughts and beliefs. Many experts say that this persistent feeling of post-purchase dread is common, especially after a significant financial investment such as a home or a new car.

For homebuyers, this type of remorse may stem from finding out that the house they just bought is not as perfect as it first seemed, after discovering unexpected repairs, missing features, or rowdy neighbours. It may also result from concerns about the future such as meeting mortgage repayments if your financial situation changes, or when interest rates go up.

How to avoid experiencing buyer’s remorse

Wallowing in buyer’s remorse is not exactly a great feeling and can get in the way of your happiness and peace of mind at a time when you should be celebrating a major milestone in your life. Here are some things you can do to deal with this:

1. Trust your judgement.

There are several reasons for choosing a house – maybe it ticked all the boxes of your non-negotiables or you saw the potential for a good investment property. If you did your due diligence before buying, then you should be on solid footing. Just look back at all the research that you have done, and you will find that you have made a good decision.

In his blog, Michael Yardney, chief executive officer of Metropole Property Strategists, has some words of wisdom for those who are harbouring doubts about their decision to buy a home.  

“Remember, it’s better to have made a decision and stake your claim in the property market than to have held back because of your fears and not moved ahead to become a homeowner,” he writes. “Look forward to all the good times you and your family will share in your new home, or the great returns you’ll get from your new investment. Sure, the uncertainty of all these new things is scary, but think of all the good times ahead and it will get you through.”

2. Stop looking at other properties.

The best way to fuel your buyer’s remorse is by constantly looking at other properties as they hit the market. Once you have signed the contract of sale, it is advisable that you stop searching the internet for better properties or driving past houses with “for sale” signs just to make sure did not miss anything. Doing these are not only counterproductive but will also make you question your decision even more.

3. Filter other people’s opinion.

It is alright to discuss your purchase with family and friends – after all these are the people that genuinely has your best interest at heart. But when it comes to taking their advice and opinion, it is better to consider how deep their knowledge is about the current market. It might have been years since they bought their properties, meaning they may not be as updated with the current market trends as you who has been doing lots of research recently. 

4. Remind yourself why you picked your home in the first place.

Maybe the house is not perfect, but repeatedly finding faults with your new home will only affect your emotional wellbeing. It is better to go back to your wish-list and remind yourself about the property’s features that made it stand out from the others. You can also make plans on how enhance these features to make your house an even greater place to live in.

5. Talk to your real estate agent (or someone you trust).

It is also helpful to speak with your real estate agent about any lingering concerns and doubts you have. Sometimes, a little reassurance can go a long way in helping quell the buyer’s remorse you are experiencing. You can also seek people who are supportive of your decision. This is the right time to embrace their positive feedback.

If you are experiencing buyer’s remorse, it helps to know that it is something homeowners commonly experience and that you are not alone. So instead of focusing on your doubts and regrets, it is better to give yourself credit for all the right things you did in purchasing your home. And even if your concerns are real, you can likely make the necessary adjustments to overcome these issues.

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