93% of Americans regret buying a home – Orange County Register

93% of Americans regret buying a home – Orange County Register

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Jon Dulin | Wealth of Geeks

From compromising on features or location to overpaying for a property, the current housing market has left many buyers unhappy and in worse financial shape.

A recent study reveals that 93% of home buyers regret their purchase. That’s one stunning conclusion of a survey by Clever Real Estate of recent homebuyers about the state of the housing market.

Most Americans believe it is not a good time to buy (53%) or sell (51%) a home, and 58% of recent home buyers report overpaying.

Why inflated? Scarcity in the housing market has steadily inflated prices. The lack of homes for sale in the United States means that 2023 saw more than 75% of home buyers shelling out an average of $516,500 for homes nationwide, a 31% increase from 2022’s average home price of $500,156. On average, home buyers paid 23% above the national average.

Numerous factors are behind this. First is inflation, which increases the price of materials for home builders to construct a new home. They pass these higher costs to the buyer as a higher purchase price.

As the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to fight inflation, it increases mortgage rates. In 2021, mortgage rates  stood at less than 3%. Today, they are hovering around 7%. For a $240,000 home, this increases the monthly payment by nearly $600. Homeowners with a lower rate don’t want to sell and buy a new home with a much higher interest rate.

Finally, while home sellers can enjoy significant gains when selling, they realize they will be overpaying for a new home, causing them to stay put.

Buyers are still willing

Soaring housing prices are also affecting the buying process. Traditionally, a 20% down payment was standard when purchasing a home. However, the high prices have created a situation where most buyers cannot afford that much or even close to it. In 2023, around 55% of buyers put down less than the standard 20% when buying their home.

On the other hand, scarcity has created competition in the housing market, driving buyers to pay over the asking price for the home they want. In 2023, 38% of home buyers paid over the asking price, up from 31% in 2022. These numbers likely force buyers to go against the advice of financial expert Dave Ramsey, who, in  his baby steps, recommends a mortgage payment of not more than 25% of monthly take-home pay.

With the increase in home prices, more people, including repeat buyers, are looking at the lower price tier, a segment traditionally reserved for first-time home buyers.

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This additional competition squeezes out first-time buyers as all home buyers want a better deal. Because repeat buyers have a proven track record and often have assets in the form of home equity, they can easily overtake first-time buyers and get better terms and lower interest rates.

One option for first-time home buyers is to look at properties that need rehabbing. In this scenario, a home buyer rehabs a property while living there and then rents it to earn income. Once there is a rental history, they refinance for better terms and cash out some equity, allowing them to purchase another home. The process is often called the  BRRRR method and is a unique way to become a homeowner.

Struggle to pay

There was a time when the American dream included owning a home, but that dream has become a nightmare for many.

Buying a home was more stressful than 66% of first-time and 59% of recent buyers thought it would be. The sad thing is that the stress of buying the home did not pay off once the purchase process ended. The stress continued long after the ink on the paperwork had dried.

In fact, 52% of home buyers say that they have not gotten any happier since they purchased their home, and 20% say that they are less happy than they were before becoming homeowners.

The reason for this decrease in happiness? Unexpected costs.

Twenty-six percent of new home buyers were surprised with costs they had not anticipated, and 56% feel like their home purchase has put them in a financial situation that is more than they can manage. For 1 in 4 home buyers, their overall financial status has declined, sometimes significantly, since they became homeowners.

However, the struggle to pay their mortgage on time each month is pulling homebuyers under. With 62% of homeowners reporting having difficulty making their monthly mortgage payments on time, it underscores the crisis in this current economic climate.

As homebuyers work harder and harder to juggle maintaining their lifestyle and  paying their mortgage, their personal debt increases. A staggering 56% of recent home buyers have assumed additional debt, such as personal loans and credit cards, since they purchased their home.

Many buyers even believe that their debt situation (29%) and overall financial situation (27%) have worsened. That’s led to a deterioration in their overall happiness (20%) and negatively impacted their relationships (19%).

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