Leave no room for buyer’s remorse

You can return most things you buy if you discover that they don’t fit or don’t work, but if you buy the wrong home, the chances are that you’ll be stuck with it for several years – or have to pay quite a price to correct your mistake.

However, says Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate, there are some tried-and-tested preventatives for what is known in the real estate industry as “buyer’s remorse” and it is worth running through these before you go house-hunting.

“A recent study in the UK revealed that about one new buyer in 10 regrets their choice to some degree,” he notes, “with the most common cause of their dissatisfaction being the feeling that they could perhaps have got a better deal if they had taken more time to choose.

“And we agree, you really shouldn’t buy the first house you see – or at least not until you have had time to think about it and compare it to several others. You need to feel sure that the home you’re buying is good value and will meet your needs at this time of your life. Getting caught up in a bidding war early on in your home search can also lead to you making emotional decisions that you may regret later.”

He says other reasons that buyers may suffer remorse include not liking the new neighbours, finding that their new home is too small, finding that their new home requires more work than they expected and finding that their bond payments put them under financial strain - and that with this in mind, Harcourts has the following advice for prospective buyers:

* Think very carefully about what you need from a property, and may need five or 10 years from now. “For example,” says Gray, “a large garden might appeal to you, but will you really have the time - or money - to maintain it? On the other hand we find that people who are downsizing are also liable to under-estimate the amount of space they will need – such as an extra bedroom to use as a home office or to accommodate family visitors.”

* Double check your finances to make sure you can comfortably afford the bond payment and the other ongoing costs of home ownership, such as insurance, rates and maintenance. “And be sure to create a contingency fund so that an unexpected repair or interest rate increase won’t send you into a tailspin.”

* Research the area in which you are thinking of buying. “Picking the wrong location can have a negative effect on the future resale value of your property as well as your current lifestyle,” he says. “Look out for positives such as good schools, public transport, medical facilities and clean parks, and for negatives such as nearby road-building or large commercial developments.” 

* Visit the home you are thinking of buying at different times of the day and on different days of the week. “In this way, you may well discover noisy neighbours before you move in next door to them – or a noisy local gathering place that only gets busy after dark. In addition, you may find that traffic in the area is worse than you thought, or that the commute to work is actually further or more difficult than you estimated.”

* Stay focused on your priorities. “Don’t let a lovely entertainment area blind you to a floor plan that won’t suit you,” Gray advises. “Try to find the home that most closely matches your original wishlist and that is within your budget. It is not worth buying a home you can’t afford as it will very likely prevent you from reaching other financial goals.”

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