So what happens if the worst comes to the worst and you’re not sure that you made the right decision? You loved your house when you first signed the contract and now you’re not so sure. What if you acted too quickly or you spot a better option on the market? What if you paid too much for your house and now you’re worried about keeping up repayments. Sometimes something outside of your control might occur which could mean a sudden change in your financial situation – potentially disastrous.
You’re not alone. A 2013 study by Which? Money found that one in five Britons admit having made some mistakes when buying a house.
What brings on Buyer’s Remorse?
- Failing to conduct a structural survey
Poor quality building work can require expensive repairs and refitting so a structural survey is of utmost importance. More serious problems like subsidence can leave a house uninsurable and potentially unsellable.
- A rushed purchase
Buying a property is a huge commitment and needs careful consideration. However, this can quickly go out the window when faced with the excitement of buying a property or, equally, the mounting pressure to own a home that many first time buyers face. It’s important not to panic and assume that if you don’t immediately put in an offer someone else will. The average house takes 6 weeks to sell, so if it’s just gone up for sale take a deep breath and take your time. Whilst it can feel like the most important thing in the world to secure your property, it’s much more important to weigh up the pros and cons before you make an offer.
- Paying too much for your property
It can be tempting, when faced with the property of your dreams, to spend outside of your budget. But be wary of doing this. The excitement of finding your home combined with the pressure from an estate agent’s eager to finalise a sale can see even the savviest buyers rushed into overpaying and then regretting this afterwards. Have a clear price in your mind and be prepared to widen your search area if you need more space than your budget affords.
- Choosing the wrong mortgage
It goes without saying that choosing the wrong mortgage could be disastrous. With thousands of deals and complex fee structures, it can be a nightmare to choose the right loan for you. You can get mortgage advice including deals from the whole of the market free from sites such as moneysupermarket.com. Do your research and be prepared. Remember your house can be repossessed if you don’t keep up with payments so it’s important to make sure your mortgage is affordable long term.
How do you avoid buyers remorse?
- Check out the property fully
Conduct a full structural survey of the property. Hire the most thorough, licensed home inspector you can find to pinpoint any issues that could potentially end up becoming costly repairs.
- But check out the area too!
Something buyers often forget to consider if the area itself. What are your new neighbours like? If you relish peace and quiet but your neighbours are a rowdy family of six or a house full of partying students you may find yourself filled with regret down the line. It’s also a good idea to investigate local planning permission. A 2013 Which? Survey showed that buyers regretted failing to do this after a local football club moved nearby. Another found that a nearby non-operational airfield was used by gliders which resulted in heavy noise pollution – hardly ideal!
- Put together a ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ list
Make a clear, definitive list before you start looking at properties of the things you would like to have and the things you NEED to have in order to be happy in your home. Once you’ve seen a property you like, review the list. It’s also useful to review this list once contracts have been exchanged to remind yourself of why you chose your house in the first place. It’s natural to worry that there might be a better property out there somewhere but if you know that the property you have chosen fulfils all your ‘must-haves’ for a happy home, you’ll feel much more reassured.
- Be wary of well-meaning advice
Provided you’ve done all the necessary research and due diligence, discussing your purchase at length with friends and family can be more of a hindrance than a help. Whilst they mean well it’s important to ask yourself: do they know the market? It may have been years since they purchased their property and there’s no guarantee that they are in touch with current prices. They may even live in another part of the country where house prices are drastically lower. Often unqualified advice like this can lead to doubts in your well researched purchase, that can eventually lead to remorse.
- Cancellation clauses
There may be an opportunity to put a cancellation clause in your contract. Ask your agent before you sign an offer if this is possible.
When your concerns are valid
There are times when your doubts are perfectly valid and you should think about halting your house purchase. If your contract has been negotiated properly you should be able to pull out of your contract without any resulting penalties in the following situations:
- At the time of appraisal, the house is valued under the purchase price
- The house is in a worst state than advertised: if inspections show more repairs than you had bargained for it might be time to consider your options.
- Undisclosed easements that could affect your ability to make adjustments to your home or give others access to your property.
- There are problems with the deed. If the seller does not have full rights to sell the property or it emerges that he owns the property with another party who have not relinquished their rights to the property, you should back out immediately.
These (and other serious problems) are all issues that must be resolved before you purchase the property.
Can I pull out after exchange of contracts?
If you are sure you have made the wrong decision you can pull out after exchange of contracts. However, you should be prepared to bear the costs. Under the standard conditions of sale there are forfeit clauses that set out what a buyer or seller will have to pay in event of either one pulling out after exchange.
If you as the buyer pull out you could lose your deposit. However, if the seller breaches contract they can be equally liable.
To get to the point of exchange there will have been weeks of waiting, financial cost to both parties and plenty of time to think about your purchase. Therefore, most completions should flow smoothly. The challenge comes when you have to pull out after this point.
What happens if you have to pull out?
- You may have to forfeit your deposit. This would also include any accrued interest on the amount of the deposit.
- The property can be put back on the market immediately along with any contents even if you had agreed to take these on as part of the sale.
- The seller may even be able to claim for damages such as time wasted, costs incurred and legal fees.
If you pull out of your contract there is nothing to prevent the seller for suing for breach of contract for losses including anything from mortgage costs, valuation, survey costs, drafting a new rental lease to deposit for the seller’s contents removal.
If you need help with a breach of contract claim it is best to contact a solicitor immediately.
If you have any questions about selling your property quickly and efficiently our expert team are on hand to help. Buyer’s remorse be gone!