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After a purchase as large and life-changing as a luxury home, there’s a risk that clients will experience buyer’s remorse. This is especially true in a highly competitive market, in which buyers may not be putting in the necessary time and consideration.
Susan Desselle, Owner and Principal Broker at Capital Sotheby’s International Realty, shares three of the most common reasons an individual might feel buyer’s remorse:
- The fast-paced market drives them to make a decision based on “FOMO” (fear of missing out), without knowing enough about the area or exploring other options.
- They worry they overpaid because, in a hectic market, everyone is paying at least the list price, if not more. They wonder if they could have waited for a better deal.
- Often, other factors are neglected in the rush to purchase, such as the distance to work or schools, local activities, and lifestyle, and the costs of utilities and updates.
“However, almost all buyer’s remorse can be eliminated with appropriate preparation before beginning the house hunt,” emphasizes Desselle.
Here are six actionable strategies to ensure your client approaches the home buying process with eyes wide open and has no regrets when the deal is done.
1. Be systematic in learning what your buyer wants
“I spend so much time looking carefully and guiding my buyers that I don’t encounter too many regrets,” says Danielle Wiedemann, Associate Broker & Senior Global Real Estate Advisor with Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage. “I ask a lot of questions upfront. Don’t be shy about finding out your client’s needs.”
Desselle advocates a funnel approach to help cover all the bases. “Start at the wide opening for the larger information. This includes desired schools, amenities, and commute times. Next is the age, style, and size of the home. Then look at the specific living characteristics: number of beds, baths, offices, and living spaces, along with yard, parking, and storage needs. Next are lifestyle considerations such as pool, outdoor kitchen, and recreation. Finally, see what your client thinks of updates—do they need move-in ready, or are they willing to remodel?”
2. Walk through the client’s current home with them
Wiedemann advises agents to understand their clients’ aspirations firsthand. “When someone tells me they like to live in a specific way or need enough space to hold a collection, I often see if I can come over to their current home to view the existing space, situation, and setup,” she says. “This allows me to better comprehend what they are trying to replicate and what they are wanting to change.”
3. Seek informed opinions and insights from others
Sometimes buyer’s remorse can strike when friends and relatives don’t fully approve of the new home, which is why agents should find out about involving relevant people in the process.
“If the buyer is seeking the input or approval of others, the agent needs to know that upfront to ensure that the identified parties are included early on,” says Desselle. “This will ensure the buyers know of objections well within the due diligence timeline.”
4. Explore disclosures and survey the property
Review all available disclosure docs before writing an offer. “For example, if you find out on the disclosure that the home is in the flood plain, that might be a dealbreaker for you and you don’t need to spend another moment considering that home,” says Desselle.
“Buyers should also get a new certified survey during the closing process so they understand where their property lines are, whether the property has undisclosed easements, and whether any structures cross the property lines.”
5. Financial due diligence helps prevent overpaying
Desselle points out that most people can qualify for a mortgage at a higher price point than they actually want to spend on a month-to-month basis. “Encourage your client to do the legwork ahead of the house hunt to be sure they’re considering homes only in the price range they have elected,” she says.
“I have found that when people are really stressed, it may mean they’re stretching their budget further than they will be comfortable with,” Wiedemann says. “There’s a difference between hitting the top of one’s budget and exceeding it by an amount that puts undue stress on the client or their family.”
Listen to your clients, empower them to explore their options, and help ease the pressure so they don’t purchase a home that won’t make them happy. “There will likely be compromises made along the way, as very few homes are perfect,” says Wiedemann. “However, something that truly suits their needs and desires is out there—and with patience, a bit of digging, and some teamwork, together you can find it.”