Buyer’s remorse is something we want to avoid, especially when it comes to real estate because it comes at a high price. We consider, evaluate, and scrutinize all the options to make a decision, but quite often, homebuyers wish they had done things differently. Trulia just came out with a survey that could help keep you from making the same mistakes.
Trulia’s “Real Estate Regrets”(1) survey shows that 44% of Americans have a regret about the home they currently live in or the process they went through to choose it. It covers questions about buying vs. renting, wanting a larger or smaller home, remodeling decisions, and feelings of financial security. Both buyers and renters contributed including renters who feel that “renting” was a mistake.
The biggest regret among homeowners is the size of the home they choose. 33% wish they had chosen a bigger home and 9% wish they had bought a smaller one. Those figures are actually an improvement from Trulia’s last survey in 2013.
Renters also had similar regrets about the size of the home they are living in, but the top regret among renters — that they decided to “rent” instead of “buy”. 41% of the renters said they regret their decision to rent. That’s about the same percentage as it was in 2013.
Other top regrets, 26% of homeowners wish they had done more or less remodeling. The lesson here may be that remodeling decisions should be more carefully calculated and not something we rush into. It’s easy to get enamored with a sales pitch on a home improvement project before we’ve thoroughly thought it through.
Attitude Toward Home Ownership
It sounds like the grass is always greener on the other side although most people have a positive attitude about home ownership. The survey shows that 42% of homeowners have a more positive attitude about homeownership than they did five years ago, while 7% have a more negative attitude.
Among renters, 33% are feeling more positive about buying a home, and 25% are feeling more negative. More than half of renters also feel they cannot afford to buy a home, which likely contributes to that feeling of negativity.
Regrets Among Sub-Groups
Millennials are by far the largest group with regrets. 71% of the people with regrets about their current housing situation are between the ages of 18 and 34. Among baby boomers, 28% have regrets. Millennials also had the largest share of regrets for the other categories including: wishing they had bought instead of rented, wishing they had chosen a larger home, wishing they had done more remodeling, and wishing they were more financially secure before they made a decision.
Looking at who’s holding and who’s selling, 93% of the people who bought before the housing bottomed in 2012 say they haven’t sold, and 82% say they are glad they haven’t. They’ve seen a lot of appreciation since then. But those who bought after 2012 are also holding on to their homes. 72% say they haven’t sold, and 60% say they are happy with that decision.
Regrets also seem to follow income levels. About half of those who make $100,000 or more a year have housing regrets. That’s compared to just 40% of those who made less than $50,000 a year. Wealthier homeowners also wish they had put more down on their house.
Some parents were unhappy about the neighborhoods they chose, and many said they wished they had access to more information before they had decided. One of the big regrets among parents, that they hadn’t picked a neighborhood with a better school system.
Homeownership is a Risk Worth Taking
Although many people have suffered big losses from past decisions or they have made big mistakes in their choices, Trulia says that most Americans feel that homeownership is worth the risk. The survey shows that to avoid one of the biggest mistakes, people looking to buy or to rent should carefully consider the size of the home they need. They should also be sure they get enough information to make an informed decision, and hopefully make the right choice.
The survey was conducted by the Harris Poll toward the end of June. It included responses from more than 2,000 U.S. adults.
(1) Trulia – Real Estate Regrets