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How to avoid buyer's remorse

Black businessman holding a house [Shutterstock]
Published Jan. 23, 2018

You've dreamed about that new home and finally signed on the dotted line. But then the uncertainties creep in. Was it the right choice? Did I pay too much? Can I really make the payments?

So much debt. So much doubt.

According to a recent survey by Trulia, 44 percent of U.S. homebuyers have some regrets about their home or the buying process. And while a home is likely the most expensive thing most of us will purchase, you can't just return it like a poorly fitting sweater when buyer's remorse sets in.

The best way to avoid buyer's remorse is to minimize the homebuying doubts by doing your research. Here are a few tips to help make you a happy homebuyer — even after you've signed that contract.

Create a written checklist with wants and needs. Look at the list and make sure the home you've selected includes the most important items. Go through the list of qualities that made you select this home over all the others you've looked at.

Do your homework with lenders. After you've found a lender you can trust, be sure to ask lots of questions. An experienced lender will have recommendations for a loan, but ask why a loan is deemed the right one for you. For example, options with low down payments have obvious advantages upfront, but there are also disadvantages such as higher monthly payments and the possibility of higher interest rates.

Factor in all your expenses, not just the price of the home. Closing costs, moving costs and furniture all add up. Be sure to budget for everything that's included in your move. In addition, look outside. Does the house you have in mind already have landscaping or will that be another expense?

Do some digging into the homeowners association. Ask to see budgets and financial reports and talk to a board member. You'll want to be sure that fees are properly collected and spent to avoid jumps in cost.

Check the area's master plan. If you're buying a house because of the pastoral view from the back yard, you'll want to make sure that the space you find so appealing won't turn into a shopping mall in the near future. Know what will be planned in your community and how it will impact noise and traffic.

Likewise, make sure your home isn't in a flood plain. With our area's dry climate, this is one thing that can easily be overlooked. So be sure you don't have a dry creek bed going through your property. Homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods, and flood insurance can add hundreds of dollars to your insurance bill.

Stop looking at houses. Once you've picked your house, it's time to stop trolling for homes on the internet, no matter how tempting.

Don't take all opinions to heart. Friends and family members will be eager to give advice and share their own homebuying stories — especially with first-time homebuyers. But keep in mind, unless they are real estate experts and know your entire financial history, their opinions are not relevant.

It's understandable to become nervous about a major life decision such as buying a home, but with the proper preparation, you can avoid the cold feet and a bad case of buyer's remorse.

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