How to Prevent Buyer’s Remorse When Buying a House, According to Therapists

published Apr 16, 2019
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It’s one thing to have buyer’s remorse when it comes to an over-size sectional that doesn’t exactly fit in your living room. But what’s the best way to handle buyer’s remorse over the purchase of your home—perhaps the biggest purchase of your life so far—which you are now seriously regretting?

First of all, keep in mind that buyer’s remorse may be a mask for something deeper.

“Buyer’s remorse is often anxiety that’s unrelated to whether buying this house is a good purchase for you or not,” says Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medicine Center. “It’s often actually fear about change, about moving forward in life, about success and about fear of failure.”

Not surprisingly, home purchases are also a frequent issue for new couples and a topic that comes up often in marriage therapy, says John Moore, PhD, a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago, Illinois.

“In many cases, both people in the relationship are deeply in love and are excited to start a new life together,” Moore says. “What happens, sadly, is that they get caught up in the fantasy of living somewhere without engaging in dialogue and looking at the pros and cons.”

What to do before you buy

If you’re in open-house mode and are spending every waking minute dreaming of buying a house, read on for four expert-driven tips on how to avoid experiencing buyer’s remorse:

1. Place a 24-hour hold on decision-making

“To help clients prevent buyer’s remorse, I suggest taking at least a day after an open house to discuss whether you really want to put in a bid,” Moore says. “This helps to prevent impulse buying and making bad choices.”

2. Sketch out the pros/cons

“I encourage people to write out all the pros and cons of buying this home beforehand,” Saltz says. “Take notes of how you will resolve the cons to your satisfaction or if you can accept them because of the pros and keep that list. When you feel remorse, it’s helpful to review your list to remind yourself that you considered all of the positives and negatives and that the remorse you’re feeling is perhaps about other things, rather than having made the wrong decision. In particular, looking at your pros list will remind you why you loved your home in the first place.”

3. Spend time visualizing yourself in the house

“It’s very important for anyone buying a home to pretend that you live in a home you might purchase,” Moore says. “Walk yourself from room to room visualizing the space and then ask yourself the tough questions: ‘How do I feel about potentially living in that house?’ and then ‘What are you aware of as you explore your thoughts and feelings about this house?'”

4. Seek out those you trust

“If you’re still on the fence about a potential home purchase, talk to one or two people you really trust and respect,” Saltz says. “If you end up deciding to buy the house, this person can help you see why it was a good decision for you.”

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