Buyer’s remorse – how to avoid it?

Private Property South Africa

Buying a house is arguably the most involved and expensive purchase you will ever make. As such, it’s important to make sure the house you have your eye on really is the house you want, or you may find yourself dealing with a case of buyer’s remorse.

According to Wikipedia’s definition, buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret felt after making a purchase. It is most commonly associated with expensive items such as cars or houses and may stem from the fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.

Purchasing a house is stressful enough without having to worry about possibly regretting the decision. As such, it’s important to step back, do your homework and try to be objective before even making an offer. Making sure the house meets all your requirements is a good place to start. Some of the questions you could ask under this banner include, amongst others:

· Can you genuinely afford it?

· Is the property in good condition?

· Does it offer enough space?

· Does the property lie within close reach of schools and hospitals and other amenities?

· If it forms part of a sectional title complex, is the complex well run and maintained?

· Is the property pet friendly?

· Is the surrounding neighbourhood run down or experiencing a lot of development?

· Is crime in the area under control?

· Are there enough parking bays for visiting friends and family?

· Is the property subject to a lot of noise?

· If you want to add on or renovate, can this be viably achieved?

If you’ve asked all these questions and you’re still hesitant about signing on the dotted line, ask yourself why. Is there something that just doesn’t feel right about the property or have you discovered something that has changed your perception about it? Perhaps, despite being fairly certain about a property you made the mistake of continuing to look at other houses which has clouded your judgement and made you uncertain.

If you’re honest with yourself, maybe you’ll realise that you’re being pressured into making an offer either by the seller or a spouse. You might even find that it isn’t the house which is the problem, it’s the fact that you’re actually not in the right frame of mind to make an offer on any house which is giving you pause for thought. If this isn’t the case, ask yourself what made the property stand out from others you looked at and consider whether or not you realistically think you will find a house that’s “better?”

While it’s natural to be unsure about such an important purchase, doubt can also stem from genuine concerns such as structural issues. If you are worried, sleep on it and chat to your estate agent as well as your family and friends before making an offer. That said, keep in mind that your family and friends will probably not be as familiar with the circumstances surrounding the property and might be out of touch with realistic prices and trends. Ultimately the decision lies with you.

There are of course times when purchases should be halted and the conditions of your offer to purchase – should you choose to proceed - should reflect this. For instance, you should be released from your obligation if you cannot obtain finance, the home inspection reveals major faults with the house or there are issues with the deal because the sale is being disputed. Just remember to be patient, think through the issues ahead of time and avoid making a decision which you could regret later on.

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