Jason Robie: Avoid the oops

By Jason Robie
We have all done it. It hits you on the way home or shortly thereafter. We have bought that item, regardless of how big or small, and been overwhelmed with a feeling of regret. Buyer's remorse. Of course it is a bit more common with larger purchases such as a new car or expensive jewelry, and real estate is certainly no exception. So rather than placating your remorse with a bowl of ice cream or a big glass of wine, let's look at some ways you can avoid those feelings in the first place.
You have heard me say this on multiple occasions, but knowledge is key. The more "homework" you do before signing on the proverbial dotted line, the more confidence you will have in your decision. My brother is a car fanatic. Before he purchased his last car, he researched all the vehicles in that class to ensure that this particular model was "the one." While this is certainly time consuming and, in the end, there really is no "perfect" car, at least he can sleep at night knowing he made the best decision for his particular goals.
That right there, I believe, is one of the most important factors in having confidence in your decision. Knowing what you want. When looking for a new home, it is imperative that you make your list of "must-haves" before you begin your search. This not only relieves some of the post-purchase jitters, but also gives you the confidence to eliminate properties that don't meet those demands. I also encourage buyers to make this list as concise and specific as possible. If you need or "must-have" a two-car garage, then don't settle for a home without one. If you have dogs and they need a back yard to play, don't assume you will just take them for walks every day and bring them to the park. Set your minimum standard and stick to your guns.
While Ross and Rachel's infamous "checklist" for dating didn't work out too well for them, when it comes to your next home purchase, keep emotions out of it as much as possible. Someone's feelings are not at stake here. This is a big wooden box with a roof within which to store all of your stuff and your family. That's it. As you are going through this process, make use of the expertise of the agents at Badger Realty and let them help you with your list. Having a third party involved in the process helps you keep a bit of distance between you and the property. If a given house doesn't make the cut, move on.
It is equally important to take some time to review the finances as well. This may seem like an obvious step, but unfortunately first-time home buyers are frequently surprised at the "true" cost of ownership. With all the computer programs and experts available today, you will have no trouble getting some very accurate numbers regarding the mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc.
Beyond these "fixed" figures, it is also very helpful to get estimates on how you can directly impact your monthly payments. What if you pay an extra $50 per month? What if you come into some money and are able to pay $1,000 directly on the principal. If you utilize an adjustable rate mortgage, how will the fluctuations of the interest rates impact your payments. Getting a handle on all of these variables will help you rest easier in the years following your purchase.
Get a handle on what type of local, not national, real estate market you working within. I have talked at length about the importance of knowing your local real estate market. While nationally, the foreclosure rate might be dwindling and home sales are starting to pick up, what is happening in North Conway, NH? What about Madison or Albany? Every region and every town have their own "micro" real estate market and it is important to understand what is happening on that level. There are even differences between condo complexes in the same town. Get to know your local market and the direction it is heading. This will increase your confidence that you are making the right decision and will also help you in the negotiation process.
Slow down a bit during the buying process and take a closer look at your home inspector. Granted, they are now going to be required to be licensed but not all inspectors are the same. Get some recommendations from trusted friends, relatives or co-workers and make sure you are comfortable with your choice. Also, much like the advice we get when going to the doctor for a check-up, make a list for your inspector before they get there. As you are walking through the home for the first time, you are going to have specific areas of concern. Make note of these and highlight them during the inspection. (You ARE going to be there for the inspection, right?) Also, if you plan to make any renovations, try to coordinate your contractor's availability during the inspection. What a great opportunity to have two professionals offering insight on the current and future condition of your home.
Lastly, I would simply encourage you to get back in and view the home more than once and bring a second set of eyes with you. A trusted friend or even your contractor can offer a more objective perspective than yours, especially if you have already "fallen" for the home. Typically a second viewing of the home will expose areas of concern that you overlooked the first time through. While this may not be convenient, particularly for vacation home buyers, it is an important step to boost the confidence in your decision.
You have the choice. Hastily make a huge decision and gamble with remorse after the papers are signed, or do your homework up front and move forward with confidence in your choice. Compared to the years of enjoyment in your beautiful new home, the up front work will be quick and painless.

Jason Robie is staff writer for Badger Realty in North Conway. Phone number for Badger is (603) 356-5757. Robie's email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..