Home buyer remorse

We recently bought a home that I felt in my heart I didn't want but after multiple failed bids and the threat of the interest rate hike looming, we got desperate and bid a ridiculous amount. And it still needs renovations. And now it's tearing me and my relationship apart. I can't stop hating it. I keep blaming myself for not listening to my gut/saying no, and can't stop blaming my partner for pressuring us into being so desperate and can't stop being angry with our realtor for making us feel like it could work for us. Now even before I move in I am counting the years until we move out. Please don't judge me - I know I'm fortunate to even buy a house now but I also feel victim of this terrible competitive market and feel gullible and naive working with our realtor. I want to warn others not to fall into the traps I did and I want to ask for perspective/support/advice on how to feel better and not hurt my marriage. Thank you so much.

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RE: Home buyer remorse ()

 we just did the same thing and I felt the same way for a while. What made me feel better was seeing the renovations (even though they were small, they looked great!) and remembering exactly what you said, we are very lucky. This doesn’t have to be your forever home but it’s an investment for your family. It’s the Bay and I have seen burned out shells of houses selling for half a million on the apps so rest assured you will recoup your investment. It may be a downsize (ours was) but even so, there are lots of families that would jump at the opportunity to have a solid investment and a financial plan. It also helped deleting my real estate apps so I wasn’t constantly checking on what might have been if we made a different decision. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I understand completely and I feel for you.  Been there; still am there, since I miss our former house even after 20 years.  It's not the end of the world.  There will be bright spots with the new house, and you will get through this, but I definitely think you should see a therapist and/or a marriage/couple counselor for assistance. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

HI there, So sorry to hear of your experience. It seems like you have taken the script out of my mouth. I am in exact same boat. I don’t have any advise for you but if you would like to connect sometime so we can so that you know you are not alone in this boat. Take care. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

Oh you don’t even live in it yet?  Of COURSE you feel remorse.  It takes all the money in the world to buy something that isn’t even perfect around here.  That’s how it goes!  I felt pretty much just how you did when I bought my house.  Totally trapped, totally remorseful, panicked that all our money and then some had gone to something that needed a new roof, a new yard, new bathroom, pretty much new everything…I didn’t eat for a week.  And now I am in LOVE with my little home.  Before you move in, it’s not your home yet.  You can’t possibly know all the things you’ll love about it when it is.  Tell yourself that buying a house is weirdly one of the most terrifying things to do (truly, people of my parents generation came out of the woodwork to tell me similar stories when I told them how I was feeling) and you’re in the most uncomfortable part of the process.  Just know that it’ll pass and how you feel now is no evidence of how you’ll feel later.  And if in a few years you still feel it’s not the place for you, it’ll undoubtedly have appreciated some absurd amount and you’ll be thrilled with your investment as you look for somewhere else to live.  

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

My sister had a similar issue (for different reasons). She got "hypno-therapy" and said it really helped her to not fixate on how much she hated the house. Don't know if this is an option for you. If not, maybe try some mediation sessions on letting it go. However you get there she basically had to find a way to let it go that she hated the house, find comfort in it not being her "forever home", and identify a few small things that made it more liveable for her. Good luck!

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

Hi,

I feel you; the bay area housing market is incredibly high stakes which leads to a lot of stress.  When we closed on our home, I had a panic attack in the bathroom of a cafe.  I was ugly crying, sure we had made a terrible mistake that would leave us destitute.  Fast forward 6 years and we could not afford to buy our home.  At the end of the day, real estate is a great place to park your money; interest rates are low and the property value will increase over time.  For better or for worse, this is why it is a multi-million dollar industry. 

I would recommend you focus on what you like (or could like) about the house; location, size, exposure, yard, number of bathrooms, there must be something.  For what you hate, partner with a friend for a 30 min venting session. You meet for 1hr and each spend 30 minutes venting.  That way you aren't forced to vent to your spouse.

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I did this. My partner wanted a home, I didn't want to hold her back. Interest rates were rising. As first time home owners we could get a 'deal'. I didn't want the commitment of a home and knew it would be difficult at best to pay a mortgage. I resented the hell out of her. We fought over finances and working on the home, and in the end it played a part in ending our relationship of 7 years. I never told her, then, how I felt. I think it imperative that you speak with your partner. Resentments just simmer and eventually boil over. No structure is worth it.

Let the blame and self recriminations go. We all goof up. Learn from the experience, however distasteful it is, and plan to sell the house at some point. This is not a forever decision. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

Oh this is so tough. I think you can do a few things-

1. Write down all of the things you want to warn people about and the traps you feel that you fell into. Sometimes getting these things out of your head and onto paper is enough to help you stop harping on them. Once you've written them down you can decide what to do with them, was your experience with this particular realtor bad enough that it deserves a Yelp review? Would you feel comfortable emailing the realtor some thoughts about how you're feeling? Is it something you want to send to your friends who are thinking of buying? Don't decide waht to do until you've written things down and sat on it for a few weeks.

2. Does it help to think about what the alternative situations are? What would it be like if you loved the house? What would it be like if you didn't buy this house and you were still looking? What does it feel like to think you have an option now- you can sell the house and try something new? It sounds a bit like you feel trapped, perhaps thinking of alternatives can help you look at your current situation in a new light.

3. Individual or couples therapy could also be a big help. It may be that you hate this house or it may be that it's the house + something else going on or something else entirely.

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

For your relationship: Find someone outside your relationship to whom you can offload you fears and anxieties about this home purchase. It could be a therapist, or a friend, or a bunch of friends. Pull in as many people as you need so that you aren't dumping more on any one person than they can take. I'm not saying stop sharing at all with your partner, but dial it down by like 90% and definitely do not express that you blame them for all this.

It is hard to tell from what you wrote how much of hating the house/needing renovations/counting the years reflects real, insurmountable problems with the house and whether it will work for you, and how much is a full-blown anxiety attack over having spent a lot of money on a house that you are uncertain about. My guess is it is a mix of both. You talk about the house needing renovations, but how many of those need to be done right away, and how many are cosmetic issues that you could live with for a long time before you get around to addressing? Of course you don't love the 70s wood paneling in the den or the laminate counter in the kitchen, but can you live with it for 5 years? 10 years? Maybe there are safety or structural issues that need to be addressed immediately, but other issues you can just put aside until you have time and budget to address them. Most Bay Area homeowners are in this boat. After spending big bucks on a purchase, almost nobody has a wad of cash sitting around for remodeling. It may not be fun, but it's a very, very normal position to be in. I remodeled my kitchen two years ago after living in the house since 1997. The house was built in 1910 and up until the remodel still had original cabinetry, and the sink was in a different room from the range and refrigerator. It had, as they say, issues. But I was able to make it work for 22 years.

Try to find something, anything, you like about the house. Maybe it's the location, the yard, they layout, the tile in the foyer. It can be a tiny thing. Maybe it's just being a homeowner and being able to hang stuff on your walls without angering your landlord. Maybe it's that you share it with your partner. But for your mental health, try and find something and when you find yourself unhealthily focusing on all the things you hate, try and hold onto that thing you like. Reframe the things you hate into "things that need improvement." I hope you can find some peace with your purchase. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I feel really sorry to hear that. We recently bought a home too. After 2 years of house hunting, similar to your case, we were desperate, even one real estate agent left us and thought we would never get it at our price , we put all we could, and it still needs renovation :) It wasn't what we were dreaming during the 2 years of house hunting, our kids were crying knowing that we will move to this house. Before we moved in, we could only see the cons of this home.  Fast forward >>>> We have moved in for a couple months. After the essential renovation – we gradually liked it. Our kids say that they liked it too. It is simply that we have our home now, we could change anything we want, the house may not be great today, but each week, we improve and personalize it. I know how it feels and hope you will feel better soon!!

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I feel ya! We bought our home 23 years ago, so the market was just heating up. We ended up working with a realtor that we didn't really like or trust (don't even ask how we ended up working with him! Talk about stupid and naive!) and we ended up spending like 12% more than we needed to (we since discovered what the other offers were.) We also didn't love the house, but were under pressure (I was 8 months pregnant at the time!) Overall not ideal. After a year we were able to update the kitchen, and after 5 years we added a 2nd bathroom and another bedroom. There were things I hated every day until we were able to do a larger remodel after about 12 years. I don't have any specific advice to offer but just wanted you to know you are not the only one. I will say that the key issue I hear in your post is to not let this tear your relationship apart. To the extent you need to blame someone, focus your negative energy on the realtor not your partner (or yourself). Your partner's desperation came from someplace and it would probably be helpful to try to understand why they felt that way. On the plus side, now you own a house and in this area that is very unlikely to be a bad investment. Sometime soon you will be able to sell it and get something that you love. In the meantime, focus on the things that you do like (the neighborhood, yard, some feature like a nice window seat or view) and put some energy into setting it up to be as comfortable and pleasing as possible. And the time will pass and soon you will be able to remodel or move and then sometime after that the time you spent in that house you hated will be just a memory. Successfully buying a house in this market is no small feat! You've definitely put yourself in a better position for the future. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I am so sorry to hear. I feel you. The day I got a call from the realtor that we got the place, my heart sank. I was not happy. I was filled with dread and remorse. It has been almost 5 years since that day. We emptied our bank account and bought a house we could barely afford. We can not afford a lot of the work that the house needs nor do we have the knowledge, time, and experience to chase down the right people to get the work done. We went with cheaper bids with a few things that needed to get done and now we have to spend even more money to fix the bad jobs. I hate owning our house. It took us being locked in the house due to the pandemic and being forced to accept this place as our home to not grieve the loss of our blissful existence as renters. On the brink of depression, with therapy and medication, in order to survive and persevere, we had to keep reminding ourselves of the good things about the house. It truly feels terrible to get a small fixer for such an enormous amount. We kept going back to the reasons we decided to bid on this house and reminded ourselves that we wanted to buy a house to have stability — to not have to move because of someone else’s decision. We didn’t know it then but our beloved house we rented before we bought is now occupied by the owners. We would have had to move anyway. We have friends who had to move because their place got sold. We kept reminding ourselves that this was a beloved  home for previous owners and owners before them. Although minor, we are beginning to appreciate the freedom to change things about the house that we could not as renters. I began gardening and are experimenting with landscaping. More happy memories are made, less terrible I feel about the house. We ended up doing couple’s therapy. It truly will take both of you wanting to make the relationship work and being on the same side to navigate the house and make it home. For the past 5 years, I have fantasized about moving to a better place. Alas, it seems that is financially not feasible and child seems to love the house, so, we are making a stand here and trying to accept and see the good in this old house that needs a lot of love. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

It's never easy accepting things as they are, rather than what you want them to be. 

I'd say we were in a somewhat similar boat 6 years ago...  yes the renovations were a lot of work and consumed significant time, energy and funds, but the result was that we were able to make the house truly our own. Everything we renovated is functional for our lifestyle and to our tastes. Within a year our buyers anxiety faded and we've never regretted it. 

Certain things I first hated about the house I barely even notice, or now appreciate. Many things we couldn't stand but could change, we did (pink bathroom, broken and single pane windows, lack of a second bathroom). We've become friends with several neighbors, and it's so nice knowing other families in the neighborhood and knowing many of them are truly invested in their community.

I'd suggest changing your framing, if you can... Be grateful for what you have and the opportunity to truly own a home and make it yours. Best of luck

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

I' so sorry you're feeling this way. I've been in that spot, as have many people. Unless you are just swimming in money, I imagine most Bay Area homebuyers feel this way to some extent. You have to comprise on budget, size, location, condition or all of the above to afford a home here. In terms of the relationship issue, is this a typical dynamic for you? I ask because it was for me and my husband: I am more cautious and care deeply about the process of our decision-making (are we doing it together, are my concerns heard, are our values in alignment?) whereas he is open to more risk and cares more about the final outcome than the process itself (in this case: did we get a house?). Our last home-buying process really cemented that difference for us and we have since spent a lot of time talking about that and trying to be more aware of that dynamic in our communication. As for the house itself, try to focus on the reasons you were looking into buying at all: was it for more space? more certainty about your housing situation? to lock in your housing costs? In our first home, I SERIOUSLY hated it and bought in almost the exact same circumstances in that we were tired of looking, my husband just wanted to own something, we paid too much (at the time) for a place that needed substantially more work than the updated comps, and I was angry at my realtor and my husband and myself. I stewed in that hate for a few weeks, then I decided to focus more on what I did like (the location, ability to make changes as I wanted, freedom from worrying about being priced out) and slowly over time we made the updates and we felt at home. Six years later, we needed more space and sold it easily, getting back more than we put into it. If we hadn't overpaid for that place I hated, it might have been harder to purchase our current home. 

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

My heart goes out to you. I struggled for years with buyer's remorse and deep regrets. When shopping for a house, although it was incredibly frustrating to keep bidding and losing out for 2 years, it felt exciting and hopeful. After our offer was accepted, I immediately realized that a) I didn't expect this one to be accepted like all the other ones; b) I made a mistake. I do not love the house. In my best mood, I can say the house is adequate. Many things are old and broken. What seemed like it was working really was broken but the sellers had quickly "fixed" it to look better or hide the issue. It's been 4 years. I still do not love the house, and the things I dislike about the house are things I cannot change or cost prohibitive to change: the house's northwest facing orientation, lack of light, the particular block where the house sits in the neighborhood, historic casement windows that do nothing to block wind, bugs, or wildfire smoke, sloped yard, damaged floor, lack of privacy from neighbors, etc. For over a million dollars, we settled for less than what we wanted and our realtor told us that we were very lucky to get this house. We thought we'd be able to remodel, decorate and make this house feel fresh and ours but we keep spending money on things that are necessary but do not bring joy -- roof leak, broken appliances, plumbing issues, broken windows, rotten fence, water damage, rodent infestation, mold, etc. Property taxes keep going up. It's not easy to be grateful for a million dollar fixer upper. The first 2 years were the most difficult. We thought the local highly ranked school would work out, but it wasn't a good fit for our child. Because we spent nearly all the money we had and because our housing cost more than doubled after buying a house, we could not afford a private school, so we settled for less than what we wanted at the local public school. Moving was expensive, we went into more debt to add a second bathroom. Home buyer's remorse + moving + bathroom construction + frustration over our child's school experience led to clinical depression and anxiety for both me and my spouse. I cried constantly. I started twice a week therapy and went on an antidepressant. My spouse and I started a couple's therapy which made our marriage worse. I think it was partially because my spouse was unwilling and only did it because I wanted us to be in a therapy. Therapy made my spouse feel worse about them and us. So, we stopped. The couple's therapy revealed that the house purchase and move were a major stress test and brought up everything that wasn't working in our marriage that had remained concealed due to our busy lives and our conflict avoidance tendencies. 4 years at this house, we feel a little better. We paid off all the credit card debt from the move and bathroom addition, we landscaped and improved privacy, I bought SAD lamps for us, we refinanced and was able to reduce our payment enough to be able to send our child to a private school. I received a promotion which is allowing us to start saving for a renovation that will hopefully address some of the major pain points. I continue once a week therapy which has been helpful in practicing mindfulness and gratitude. It takes time to feel ok with a new house, and we're beginning to accept that this may not be our forever home.

RE: Home buyer remorse ()

This may sound silly, and I don’t at all want to minimize your feelings, but I wanted to share I have found a lot of peace (after the insane home buying process, covid, etc) in gardening and plants. If your new place doesn’t have a current garden or space to build one, even setting up pots all over with plants can be mood-boosting. I scour Facebook marketplace for pots and plants (and have found checking out local nurseries a great way to get to know my new area) and have made my home feel like a home AND found a form of self-care I never knew I would be drawn to. Plants are a way to beautify a less-than-perfect home and make it yours and something to feel “proud” of, which is also something I didn’t really understand or pay attention to when I was a renter. Putting your hands in the dirt of your new home may be a quite literal way to ground yourself in the experience and connect with the space. It has been that way for me. Wishing you peace with your decision. <3