Whether You Rent it or Buy it, You’ll Probably Regret the Home You Choose

homes in saint petersburg, florida
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Need a reason to stop your procrastination habit of endlessly browsing local real estate listings?

How about all the regrets homebuyers end up shouldering?

A June 2017 online survey of more than 2,200 adults by real estate website Trulia revealed that 51% of those polled who had a role in choosing their current home — whether they own or rent — have regrets.

That’s a decrease of just 1% since 2013, when home prices were at their lowest in the wake of the recession.

What is it that makes so many people feel such regret about where they live? There’s not just one aspect of the buying or renting process to blame, but Trulia did narrow it down to a few key factors.

Major Homebuying and Renting Regret Culprit: Size

Bigger isn’t always better, but when it comes to buying a home, it’s probably best to size up just a smidge.

The size of the home was a major factor in homebuying regrets. Forty-two percent of homeowners surveyed who said they had regrets admitted they purchased a home that was either too big or too small.

Anyone who watches HGTV could have told you that, as every homebuying episode ends with “Well, the kids will have to sleep on bunk beds since there aren’t enough bedrooms” or “There are zero closets in this house, but we’ll make it work!”

Buying a home can be a major triumph, especially if it’s your first. But if you don’t take a good look at your needs — and your expected needs a few years down the road — you might end up feeling cramped with 29 years left on your mortgage.

Financial Security vs. Homebuying

But the size of the home isn’t the only regret. The buyer’s wallet size can also cause some regret.

Twelve percent of people who moved into their home after 2012 “said they wished they had been more financially secure before they decided, compared to 6% of Americans who found their home in 2012 or prior,” Trulia’s report explained.

If that rate of regret isn’t enough for you, consider this: Twenty-six percent of people in households with incomes of $100,000 or more said they believe they couldn’t afford to buy a home in today’s market.

Millennials Lead the Regret Parade

Isolate 18- to 34-year-olds, and a whopping 71% of those surveyed have regrets about their home choice or the process they undertook to choose it.

For college-educated millennials, student loan debt is a major factor in how a twentysomething settles into adult life. The intricacies of the housing market and the buying process are the major roadblocks for cash-strapped millennials.

And some millennials looked at the effects of the housing crisis and decided their American dream didn’t involve owning a home, MarketWatch notes.  

“Americans should be keen to avoid the issues that most commonly lead to regrets: picking the wrong size home, failing to get enough information about the home and neighborhood and, ultimately, making the right choice when it comes to buying or renting,” Trulia’s report concluded.

For now, maybe watching other people struggle through the homebuying process on HGTV is enough to satiate your homebuying dreams?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.