You loved your future home when you signed the contract to purchase it, but now you're not sure whether you made the right decision. What if you acted too quickly, and a better house comes on the market next week? What if you paid too much? What if something happens to your finances, and you can't make your house payments?
Hundreds of questions run through your mind as your closing day draws near. Most questions are simple and easily answered, but sometimes doubt creeps in and makes you uncertain about whether you want to proceed with the purchase.
Unless there's a true reason for concern, your state of mind might simply be a standard case of homebuyer's remorse. A house is the most expensive thing most people ever buy, so you want to be sure you've bought the right one. If the doubt persists, there are several things worth considering to make sure you've made the correct decision.
- Revisit your list of wants versus needs in a home, and make sure the house you're purchasing matches up.
- Well-meaning friends may question your decision, but your real estate agent has more knowledge about the market and can ease your concerns.
- Your homebuyer's remorse could be valid if you discover issues with the property's title, home inspection, appraisal value, or your financing.
Double-Check Your Wants-and-Needs List
You should have written a wants-and-needs list before you started looking for a home—features you really can't live without and others that you'd really like to have if you could. Review your notes, and make sure the home you are purchasing matches your needs and, hopefully, some of your wants, too.
Ask yourself: Does the home you are buying include the most important things on your wants-and-needs list? What qualities made the house stand out from the others you looked at? Did you find many houses that met your needs, or was this one a rarity?
Analyzing the facts that led you to the home will help you sort out your feelings about the purchase contract. Was it truly a poor choice, or would you be nervous moving forward on any house?
Ignore Outside Input and Trust Your Gut
Remorse sometimes kicks in after we start talking to others about a new house. They usually mean well, but it's not uncommon for family and friends to question your choice and what you paid, especially if it's your first home purchase and they consider themselves to be seasoned pros.
But consider the source. Do they know the market? It might have been years since your best friend bought a property himself, and he probably isn't in touch with current prices if that's the case. He might even live in another part of the country, in an area where housing costs a fraction of what you can expect to pay at your location.
When family and friends offer such input, smile and thank them, but remember the process that brought you to make an offer on your new house. Trust your gut, and as long as you did your due diligence, you should be on solid ground—regardless of what anyone else has to say.
Stop Looking at Other Houses
If you’re continuing to look at other houses, that’s a big mistake. When you're under contract to buy a home, looking at other homes as they hit the market can only fuel that buyer’s remorse and make you question your decision even more.
The best rule of thumb? Unsubscribe from all those email alerts, and delete the listing apps from your phone as soon as your offer is accepted. You’ll be better off for it.
Talk to Your Real Estate Agent
Nothing in life is certain, and we tend to think more about uncertainties when we make important commitments. Sometimes we just need a little reassurance, and that's one of many things your agent is there for during this period.
Your agent (if you have one) can answer any lingering questions you have, as well as address any concerns or doubts you might be dealing with. If you don’t have an agent, call your real estate attorney or another trusted pro for help. Everyone involved in your transaction is there to help, so let them.
Your Concerns May Be Valid
Of course, there are times when you might truly need to back out of that sales contract. You'll want to pull the plug if there are problems with the deed or title. Maybe the property boundary lines aren't as the seller represented them. A title search might uncover undisclosed easements that give someone else the right to use the property, or undisclosed liens that won't be satisfied at closing. Maybe the wife of a former owner never released her rights to the property.
Here are some situations when you might want to cancel your contract:
- There are issues with the home’s title.
- The home inspection reveals serious defects.
- The seller won’t handle requested repairs or offer repair credits in their place.
- The home doesn’t appraise at the price you offered.
- Your financing falls through.
Including contingencies on your sales contract can ensure that you can legally back out in these scenarios without losing your earnest money deposit. They’re a smart move if you want to ensure that you’re making a smart investment of your money.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How soon can you sell a house after buying it?
Once the deal is complete, and you've finished buying a house, it's yours to sell when you want. Technically, you could put the house on the market as soon as you own it. However, there are many reasons why most homeowners won't want to sell a house until they've owned until years later. Perhaps the best reason is that you will likely lose money due to the closing costs, appraisal fees, and all those other costs that come with moving. Many homeowners prefer to wait until the home's value has increased enough to recoup thosecosts.
How much money should I have saved before buying a house?
One of the most commonly cited figures for how much you should save before buying a house is a 20% down payment, primarily to avoid having to pay for mortgage insurance. However, that figure doesn't account for moving costs, nor does it factor in the emergency savings that everyone should have stashed away. Therefore, before you buy a house, you may want to have closer to 25% or 30% of its value saved in addition to three to six months' worth of living expenses. Keep in mind that these are rules of thumb, and it is possible to buy homes with less than a 20% down payment.