By Akash Pharande, MD, Pharande Spaces
Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you will ever make. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some homebuyers to experience doubt and regret after the purchase. This is known as buyer’s remorse and can apply to any purchase, but buying a home is not the same as buying a mobile phone or air conditioner, for various obvious reasons.
The stress that comes from buying the ‘wrong’ home is considerable, with far-reaching financial implications, and it is very difficult to reverse. Obviously, the best strategy is not damage control but avoiding a regrettable home purchase altogether. Ultimately, the journey of homeownership is supposed to be joyous, fulfilling, and enriching. It is unthinkable to have to factor in and prepare for possible disappointment.
In short, buyer’s remorse, as it applies to a home purchase, must be avoided at all costs because the cost of not avoiding it is massive. Let’s delve into its causes and discuss some mitigating strategies you can use. To understand it, let’s look at the most common causes of homebuyers’ remorse.
The ‘Real’ Cost of a Cheap Home
The initial euphoria of having sealed a ‘steal’ deal on a home tends to dissipate quickly. Cheap homes are inexpensive for good reasons. To deliver that attractively low price tag, the developer has cut corners and ‘optimized’ costs. These cost-cutting measures will invariably reflect in location, specifications, project amenities and facilities, overall security, ‘smart’ features, and construction quality.
Location: The real drawbacks of a wrong location come to light only gradually, long after the sales deed has been signed, and irrevocable financial commitments have been made. In marketing material, the tag ’emerging location’ (usually coupled with qualifiers like ‘promising’ and ‘exciting’) certainly indicates that prices here will be lower than in ‘established’ areas.
But it can also mean that the area lacks the kind of social and civic infrastructure that makes life comfortable and convenient. If you’re interested in a project in an ’emerging’ area, ask others who live there whether they feel that it is developing quickly, slowly, or at all, and how easy or hard it is to live there.
Is there adequate water supply, or does the area rely on an endless parade of water tankers? Is the electric supply reliable or given to frequent outages? How close is the project to a major road that creates a lot of traffic noise and air pollution? Are you happy with the view from the apartment’s windows and balcony?
Check whether you can easily buy your daily necessities nearby, how close the children’s school is, and how easily and quickly you can commute to work and back. Evaluate the neighborhood: Is it safe, or do you see a lot of ‘informal’ housing like hutments and chawls, which could indicate a higher crime rate?
Project amenities and facilities: The lower the price tag, the fewer of these will be available. Compared to a bigger project by a well-known developer in the same area, the cheaper project you’re considering will fall short on the lifestyle quotient. The developer would have sacrificed space, effort, and expense in favor of churning out more flats.
While you may be able to live without a swimming pool, the absence of a clubhouse, jogging track, children’s playground, and well-maintained green open spaces will eventually impact the quality of your family’s life.
Smart features: A home without technology to make living there more enjoyable cannot stand the test of time. Smart features such as electronic surveillance, electronic kitchen hobs, and adequate Internet availability are absolutely essential nowadays.
Our kids are growing up with technology in their DNA. Education is increasingly Internet-based, and you yourself may have the opportunity to work from home or in hybrid mode. Modern electronic security systems make life safer. If you’ve bought a home that does not support the growing tech revolution, you will regret it sooner rather than later.
Green open spaces: If all you see around you is concrete or construction rubble, you will grow tired of the new home pretty quickly. The human senses long for the sights and sounds of nature, and adequate greenery also fulfills vital physiological needs. Do not be swept away by the cheap price if it means that your children will grow up without the sounds of birds chirping and tree leaves rustling in the breeze, and you cannot sit under a tree when you feel like it.
Construction quality: Most homebuyers, especially those buying their first homes, lack the knowledge to judge between good and substandard construction quality and the materials used. Here again, flaws will show up only after the sale is done.
Construction quality means many things, including the quality of cement and the ratio of sand mixed into it, the grade of internal steel rods used, the overall engineering and architectural design, the quality of fixtures and fittings, and many other aspects.
An inexperienced buyer cannot evaluate most of these. However, there are some rudimentary tell-tale signs to look out for: a) Exterior structural flaws that have been patched may indicate a weak foundation for the project.
b) Small cracks in a flat’s walls, squeaking or sticking doors and windows, water leakage patches, and incorrectly positioned or uneven floors and bathroom and kitchen tiles.
c) Non-branded taps and electrical fittings and cheap paint on the walls.
d) Lifts manufactured by obscure local players whose names you have not heard before.
e) Walls and ceilings thin enough to hear the neighbor’s TV blaring or footsteps upstairs.
Any indication of obscure or unfamiliar brands is a warning sign. Such properties will deteriorate quickly, require frequent, costly repairs by the homeowners, and result in a significantly lower resale value. Buying a home in a cheaply constructed and badly designed project will lead to buyer’s remorse as surely as night follows day.
The only way to avoid this trap is to go for a property in a well-established, reputed developer with a strong brand and a reputation to uphold. Branded builders use high-quality construction materials and architectural designs, hire only reliable contractors, and guarantee thorough quality control throughout the construction process.
Major Remorse Factor – Downsizing Your Future
It is crucial to thoroughly assess your family’s current and future needs before buying a home to ensure it provides adequate space and functionality to support your lifestyle. While a smaller home will doubtlessly be cheaper, limited living space makes it difficult for family members to have their own personal areas or find privacy.
Cramped living environments lead to eventual conflicts among family members, make it challenging to store belongings, and limit the activities you can comfortably engage in. If your family expands or your needs change, a small home may quickly become inadequate.
You would eventually find it necessary to sell it and move to a larger property sooner than you expected. At that stage, you will find that smaller homes are harder to sell than bigger ones. The limited size will deter potential buyers, resulting in a longer time on the market and potentially affecting the home’s overall value.
There are obviously other aspects that can lead to homebuyer’s remorse, such as over-leveraged home loans, unforeseen financial setbacks such as job loss, and generally unrealistic expectations. However, those may have nothing to do with the property itself and need to be thought through no matter what kind of home you buy.
Avoiding homebuyer’s remorse requires thorough research and also enough insight into your own current and future needs, expectations, and potential lifestyle changes.
One of the best ways to ensure that the property stays relevant, useful, and enjoyable is to buy it in a modern integrated township. Not only do township developers include all the above-mentioned features, but they also ensure that the project runs flawlessly and sustainably.
To quote famous financial advisor Suze Orman – “Buyer’s remorse is the feeling of sadness or regret after making a purchase. The best way to avoid it is to think carefully before buying.” This may seem self-evident, but when it comes to buying a home, it is the best advice possible.