Dealing with Buyer's Remorse

All real estate agents encounter cases of buyer's remorse, a phenomenon that affects many homebuyers. It usually begins shortly after the purchase contract has been accepted. Is it really a good house? Did I pay too much? Can I afford it? Is there a better house out there? These are only a few of the questions that haunt buyers. Once you understand why remorse occurs, you will be in a better position to help your buyers avoid it, or to get them over the hurdles if symptoms have already begun.

A home is the largest purchase most people ever make, so it's a given that buyers want to be absolutely sure their choice is a good one. Nearly every homebuyer has some level of doubt about his purchase, but for many buyers it becomes an obsession. They cannot stop analyzing the transaction and worrying about all the negative “what ifs” that could take place, no matter how unlikely they are to occur. Although buyers who seem worrisome throughout the home search process are more likely to have problems, buyer's remorse can affect anyone.

Fact

Some buyer fears are valid, such as those that occur when a home inspector discovers a house is in need of more repairs than they wish to deal with. Look at the problem objectively to determine which fears are unrealistic and which signal that your buyers should indeed think about ways to cancel the contract.

Family and Friends Create Doubt

Younger buyers often become remorseful after talking with their parents about their purchase. Parents rarely believe that a house is good enough for their children and they nearly always think the kids paid too much. They might not be in tune with market trends or they might resent not being asked for an opinion before the contract was signed.

Friends and other family members can create doubts too, especially if they haven't purchased real estate for a while or if they live in a part of the country where home prices are much lower. It's typical for people who don't understand the market to tell buyers they paid “way too much” for a home when, in fact, the price was close to true market value. Problems begin when buyers begin to believe the comments. It's your job to reassure your buyers about the home's condition and value.

Agents Are Sometimes to Blame

Many cases of buyer's remorse can be tracked back to a real estate agent who isn't following through on his duties. Some agents think that showing houses and getting a contract are their primary jobs and that, after those events take place, they can sit back and relax until closing. If that's what you think a real estate agent does, it might be best to consider another career. Getting a signed contract only marks the beginning of your responsibilities.

Alert

You will meet buyers whose nature it is to be overly cautious and analyze everything. They may come up with unrealistic worries and far-fetched scenarios. Be prepared to answer a never-ending series of questions for the perpetually nervous buyer.

There are many steps you must keep up with, on an almost daily basis, if you expect to get your buyers and sellers to the closing table. The appraisal, loan progress, inspections, and contingencies that can make or break a contract are just a few of the tasks you must closely monitor. Buyers usually aren't savvy about common problems that occur during a home purchase. That is why they need you. When problems do crop up, your job is to step in with a cool head and offer guidance to help resolve them. If you neglect your buyers they'll begin to stress about even small issues and, in no time, you'll be dealing with a case of buyer's remorse.

Helping Them Through It

The best thing you can do to help your clients overcome buyer's remorse is to show them why they originally felt the house was the one for them. You probably have a list of their wants and needs somewhere, or notes you made while working with them, that serve the same purpose. Read your notes and make some observations.

  • Does the house under contract fit the description of the house they were looking for?

  • What qualities made the buyers choose this house over others you showed them?

  • Were there many possible choices, or was this house the only one that was suitable?

  • How long did it take to find the house?

  • Is it realistic to think that there is another house available that fits as many of their wants and needs?

  • What features of this house did the buyers seem to be most excited about?

Making an honest assessment of the events leading up to the contract will help you discuss the transaction with your buyers. Remind buyers of the reasons they chose the house, but never try to force a buyer into a sale. Refer anyone who decides to break a contract to a real estate attorney for advice about the potential legal repercussions of that action.

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