Avoiding homebuyer regrets can save you a boatload of money in the future
A recent survey from Bankrate.com finds 43% of homeowners have at least one regret about buying their current home, with maintenance and other hidden costs topping the list as the biggest regret.
Millennial homebuyers are saddled with the most regret when compared to other age groups, according to the Bankrate.com survey, with 64% indicating they have some regrets about their home purchase. For comparison, only 33% of baby boomers reported having regrets.
But homeowners don't need to find themselves in this situation if they plan properly.
Ken Kamen, president of Mercaiden Asset Management in Hamilton, said people should consider buying a home like a "money pit" – it's something people will be dumping money into for quite a long time.
He said in the current market environment, where real estate prices are soaring to record highs and people are getting shut out of the homes they want, homebuyers are taking financial risks that could hurt them in the end, like not putting a big enough down payment on their mortgage.
If someone is in a situation where real estate prices have skyrocketed and that person only puts down 5% or 10%, Kamen said that person could be in a situation where when the market cools off a bit, that 10% could go away very quickly, leaving that homebuyer underwater and stuck in a house longer than they planned to be.
"If you put too little down and the housing values go the wrong way on you, you might owe money to get out of your house," Kamen said.
The Bankrate.com survey found that after maintenance cost regrets, concerns over their mortgage topped the list of regrets, with some homebuyers reporting being unhappy with their mortgage rate or feeling that their mortgage is too high.
Kamen said things often forgotten about, especially from first-time homebuyers, is all the ancillary things that you need when owning a home like paint supplies, a ladder or outside gardening tools. While these things on their own aren't terribly expensive, they add up to thousands of extra dollars that people don't think about. Kamen said it's important for people to factor in these expenses and have that money available before needing to make the actual purchase, recommending that people set aside between $5,000 and $10,000 for these types of costs.
The one thing homebuyers want to avoid is going house poor.
"I think it's important to not push your budget to the edge. I think that's the really number one concept here," Kamen said. "You're going to need more money than you expect when you move in, so whether that number for you is $10,000 or $30,000, it's important to take the time and think that through before you actually make the purchase."
Nothing can destroy the value of a house more than not being able to keep up with its maintenance. If down the line someone needs to sell it and it doesn't look like a well-kept house because of budgetary constraints, Kamen said you're actually ruining the resale value of the house.
If you want to avoid feeling remorseful about buying a home, Kamen said it's best for people to take a hard look at their finances to ensure that they won't be stretching themselves too thin. He said it's also important for people not to create a budget based on money that they are anticipating, like a raise or bonus, but that they don't yet have.
Kamen said people also need to consider if they're buying a home for the right reasons, adding that in today's hot real estate climate, it might be better to let the market cool off a bit before buying.
Another thing potential homebuyers have to budget for is filling their new house with furniture, a costly endeavor. Kamen said many times people move out of their current place, not realizing they only have enough furniture to fill a couple of rooms in their new place.
The survey finds that while financial concerns top the list of homebuyer regrets, some buyers report feeling remorseful about the physical home, indicating that it's not the right size or location. Millennials once again led the pack with 30% indicating their home wasn't the right size and 15% reporting the location wasn't right.