Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Recently we purchased a new condo in Mexico. I, Yetta, needed to go for a week to get it ready for turning it into an Airbnb, so I gathered six of my girlfriends to come with me and turn it into a fun holiday. We were all so excited to see the new place. The condo is a stone’s throw from the beach, with three balconies and spectacular views. You would think I’d have the vacation of my dreams, right

Like most buyers, I had a few pictures to help me remember what the home looked like – and like most buyers, the strongest impression I had of the condo was the wonderful FEELING I got when I first viewed the property. As a realtor, you’d think I’d know better than to assume the feeling would stay – and I didn’t.

After the girls arrived, they were all walking around going, “This is awesome!” I, on the other hand, became increasingly upset as the first day went on. Technically, it’s called “buyers’ remorse.” For me, it felt more like frustration and agitation.

I think what got me into this day was I didn’t expect it. Even though we’ve had many properties over the years, I’d never actually experienced buyer’s remorse. As a RealtorⓇ, I have the conversation with my clients to set them up so they don’t experience it. So I assumed I wouldn’t either.

What made things worse was I had never actually been IN the condo. I had seen the property and pictures of the condo, but I’d never seen it with my own eyes. And so, while the girls saw the spacious interior and stunning views, my hyper critical eagle eye noticed the peeling paint, broken appliances, and electrical issues. Not only that, but as a RealtorⓇ, I saw everything professionally that wasn’t right with the house or the property. It was the most expensive property I’d ever purchased for myself. It was the perfect storm to hit my emotions, and I began to spiral.

I kept thinking, “I just want my money back!” I felt overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty. You know that queasy feeling in your gut? I was sick to my stomach. So while the girls were exclaiming over everything, the negative comments stood out to me and what was intended to be good comments I interpreted badly. All my feelings were playing in and cluttering my perception of what was really going on.

I forgot until later that the awful feelings that came next can be a normal part of the home purchasing experience. It was the sense that I bought something really, really big. And that I made a huge mistake. Did I really make a mistake? At the time, I would have very boldly insisted, “Yes, I did!”

My friends were very confused because nothing actually happened out of the ordinary. They were wondering, “What is going on? Why on earth isn’t she happy?” What had happened was simply a perspective switch in my own mind.

So what causes buyers’ remorse exactly?

It’s commonly one of two reasons.

  1. You viewed the property with rose coloured glasses.

    Many homeowners can experience this because when they purchase the property, it is fully staged. Nobody’s lived there for a week, they vacate, they make it perfect, they vacuum their way out of rooms, and then just make it perfect, right? No finger marks on the windows, nothing.

Then you get your final walk through when the previous owners haven’t cleaned the house for a few weeks. And you’re unpacking, and everything’s everywhere. And it will destroy your memory of what was there.

Or even, maybe you don’t have a final walkthrough and now it’s close in time and you move, you go there, you get your keys, you’re all excited. And you got the memory of a stage, magazine quality property, you move in and all their gorgeous furniture is gone, the lines might be gone, the paintings are gone. There’s holes in the walls and you can now see the grime and stains hidden by paintings, furniture, and rugs. Or you see every mark on the cabinets, because there’s nothing to take your eye away from every little issue.

  1. The finality and financial cost feel hefty.

    Maybe you can’t sleep because you know you’ve made one of the biggest decisions of your life. Perhaps you are becoming hyper aware of the financial aspect and you don’t feel prepared. And you go oh, did we do the right thing?

So what do we do when we have buyer’s regret?

We’ve talked many clients through the process. The first thing is just to recognize that could happen, right, as we talked about in the earlier segment, and that is kind of natural.

The next thing I would do is, ask yourself, what would you ask someone to ask themselves if buyer’s remorse happened to them? It really makes less sense to basically turn the question on yourself. Ask yourself “what is good about this decision? Like what caused you to make the decision in the first place? Why did you make this decision?

When I asked myself, I thought, “Oh, well, because of proximity to town and you can walk to, like 50 restaurants. Because the beach is in front of your face, and you can reach out and touch it. The pool is right there. It’s got its own hot tub. It’s a two storey so when we have guests, or even my parents, they can be on one level. We can be on another so we have privacy, even if all the grandkids come.” The reasons for us were huge.

And when I began focusing on that, I was able to put the 13 years of deferred maintenance into perspective. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how small those issues were compared to the benefits of the property. It was much easier to feel calm after that.

So, if you are caught in the snare of buyer’s regret, ask yourself, what was your reasoning in the first place? What was your motivation? And does the property still meet that motivation? Yes, there might be some extra elbow grease and sweat labor or money’s gotta be invested to bring it up to your expectation level. But do the original reasons that motivated you to buy it still apply?

Here is another interesting thing to consider about buyer’s regret. Often property purchasing is a team effort, particularly between significant others. What do you do when you are the one excited, and your spouse is the one upset?

It can be an ugly situation. There can be tension because both people are in two different emotional states. It can be hard for you not to go into problem solving mode because you want to convince your partner to feel the same way. And you don’t want them to break your bubble of bliss.

We strongly recommend that in this case, you allow the person to feel what they feel and to be where they are. And to allow them the space to talk it through. Actively listen and respond to where they are at, such as, “Yeah, that’s tough.” Then, when the person feels heard, begin asking them what motivated them to make the purchase in the first place, as a gentle reminder.

It is key to remember that there’s a process and the emotion will pass and it does not mean that it’s a mistake.

If you have bought a property and are experiencing buyers’ remorse; or if you are about to make a purchase and would like to prepare yourself for the roller coaster of emotions you may experience, book a consultation with us. We’d love to help you navigate the process. We’re in this together!