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When you buy a new dream property, that unexpected and unwelcome little surprise called buyer’s remorse is often just around the corner. One minute you are ecstatic, drinking champagne out of mismatched mugs, eating a takeaway out of the carton, and calling your friends and family to share the good news that you are finally in! Then in the coming weeks, or even as you retire to bed that night, a cloud of doubt rears its ugly head, slowly eating away at the euphoria of purchasing your amazing dream home.

A street of houses with blurry taxi in foreground
Terraced Houses and blurred “Black Cab”in Clapham ,London.

But what causes buyer’s remorse, and what can you do to cancel out the white noise?

Buyer’s remorse will have you imagining scenarios, like getting fired from a job, ill health or separating from a partner, and wondering how you would cover the mortgage payment on your dream property if these things came to pass. What if an accident happens, like a fire or flood, and you suddenly find that the small print means your home insurance is null and void and you will be footing the repair bills yourself?   

Another common theme: have you been played like a fiddle during the purchase process? Did I pay too much for the property? Could I have missed out by choosing this house over that other, better one? Has this all happened too fast? Did our estate agent nudge us towards this house because they were keen to get it off their books or wanted more commission? Your head will be spinning by this point and when you turn to friends and family for comfort, they will helpfully regale you with stories of their ‘friends’ housing woes. 

Luckily, there are ways to address the fears and re-evaluate the purchase with a rational mind.

When you start to feel the buyer’s remorse set in, remind yourself that this is likely to be the most expensive purchase you ever make and second (or third, fourth or fifth) thoughts are completely normal. Remember how long you agonised over buying that car/holiday/entertainment system, child’s play in comparison!

If you start feeling that the house is no longer for you, chances are that you are experiencing something known as new-home infatuation fade. To avoid this unending cycle, remind yourself why you bought that specific house in the first place. Revisit your initial check list. Chances are that your new purchase still meets the criteria, but infatuation fade has hit, rather like the end of the honeymoon period.

Breathe in, breathe out and let go of the feeling. And, most importantly, stop browsing through home listings and turn off new property alerts once you have signed on the dotted line on your dream property. That way only madness lies, alongside “if only” and “could-have-been.”

If you’ve chosen to tackle a mammoth restoration project (or what seems like one if you have limited DIY knowledge!) you will certainly hit that point where renovations get old, fast and you rue the day that you turned your back on that new build turn key property. In those dark days of no working bathroom, constant plaster dust in your hair and food or disappearing builders, remind yourself about the value you will be adding to the property and how much more you will appreciate your new nest having done all the hard work yourself (and maybe just hang a picture over that paint streak that just won’t budge). 

For first-time home buyers, the pressure of knowing you’ll never be a first-time buyer again, with all the associated perks and no chain to worry about, means you will agonise over the decision to buy in the first place and no doubt query your decision retrospectively as well. It is common to feel that you have rushed things since buying a home is a significant life event, and sometimes the timing is never “just right.” 

For people who like to have plenty of money set aside for a rainy day and recoil at the idea of any kind of debt, buyer’s remorse could attack sooner than expected. That sudden loss of the liquid savings you had set aside for your deposit and moving costs which had been a major sense of financial security can certainly cause doubt in the hardiest of house buyers. Ditto to the thought of a mortgage hanging over your head for the next 25 years or more.

When this happens, remind yourself that you haven’t “lost” the money, but rather put it into a less liquid asset. And surely paying off your own mortgage is a much more satisfying option than paying rent to your Landlord to reduce his or her mortgage. 

If all else fails, take the Ben Franklin approach. Draw a line on a piece of paper and make a two-sided table. On one side, under the YES heading, list the reasons why you bought the house in the first place and reflect on them. On the NO side, make a note of everything that makes the home unsuitable. Weigh the two sides point by point, and if the YES column wins, breathe a sigh of relief and say so long to buyer’s remorse.

What if you should be doubting the purchase?

Of course, there will be the odd time when buyer’s remorse is warranted and you realise you did make a mistake with the property in question. But you’ve been swayed once by period features or the excitement of a bidding war versus an impractical layout, hellish commute, nightmare neighbours or mounting renovation costs. Console yourself with the knowledge that you won’t be fooled again.

Hang on in there and wait for a sensible time to move, keeping an eye on the market to get the best return on your investment when you do come to sell and make sure you stick like glue to your deal breaker list for future properties. It is also important to note that if you have a fixed rate mortgage you may be subject to an early repayment fee if you move again within a set period, so you might actually have to repent at leisure on this one unfortunately.  

Remember though, no property will completely tick all of your boxes. Remind yourself of the things you love about the house and if it still isn’t enough to make you fall in love with it once more, make sure you really sell these assets when it comes time to re-enter the property market. Then maybe you will find your next dream property.

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