How to Avoid Homebuyer's Remorse

Remorse is a common feeling after you make an offer

Man doing paperwork on patio
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You loved your future home when you signed the contract to purchase it, but now you're not sure if 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 if 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 it's common to 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.

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 want-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.

If you're not sure the appraisal will come in high enough or you think the home inspection might uncover serious issues—then it's OK to keep looking. But only do this if you (and your agent, if you have one) think it’s necessary to stay on your homebuying timeline.

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.

Sometimes 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 represented by the seller. 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 you can legally back out in these scenarios without losing your earnest money deposit. They’re a smart move if you want to ensure you’re making a smart investment of your money.

Article Sources

  1. Redfin. "What is a Contingency in Real Estate?" Accessed Jan. 23, 2020.

  2. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. "Find the Right Home." Accessed Jan. 23, 2020.