Study Finds That 73% Of Homeowners Have Regrets About Buying A House

Luxurious new construction home in Bellevue, WA. Modern style home boasts two car garage framed by blue siding and natural stone wall trim. Northwest, USA

Close your eyes. Picture your version of the American Dream. It’s probably a Norman Rockwell-esque vision, featuring a single family house in a nice neighborhood with a white picket fence around the yard, with two cars in the driveway and all the modern finishings. 

If that’s your vision of the American Dream, it’s one that comes with a hefty price tag. There’s no denying that market conditions associated with the pandemic caused a once-in-a-generation real estate gold rush in the housing market. The price of buying a home has dramatically increased in the last couple of years, forcing a generation to live with their parents well into adulthood to save up for a down payment

According to economic data at the end of 2022, the median house price in America was $467,700. Depending on where you want to own a house, that’s on the low side. 

And mortgages? Rates have spiked dramatically – As of this writing, the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 6.6%

Additionally, the costs associated with homeownership have skyrocketed. Many homeowners are starting to report regrets about homeownership due to hidden costs that hurt the wallet.  

Homeownership and unexpected costs

Based on a recent survey of 1,000 American homeowners conducted by Real Estate Witch, 90% of the respondents indicated that certain aspects of homeownership were more costly than they initially anticipated.

According to the survey, 73% of homeowners express remorse regarding their home acquisition. Notably, first-time purchasers exhibit 15% higher likelihood of experiencing regret compared to those who have bought homes before.

Additionally, the survey discovered that homeowners are allocating considerable money to cover yearly costs related to owning a home. On average, they spend $17,459 per year on home-related expenses, which is separate from their mortgage payments.

So what are respondents spending their money on besides a mortgage? These are the things that homeowners find to be more expensive than originally anticipated: 

  • Property taxes – 33%
  • Renovations – 27%
  • Utilities – 27%
  • Roof work – 25%
  • Maintaining the home’s appearance – 24%
  • Homeowners insurance – 23%
  • Appliance repairs – 22%
  • Upgrading appliances – 21%
  • HVAC – 21%
  • Yard work – 19%
  • Home cleaning – 16%
  • Foundation repairs – 15%
  • HOA fees – 11%

The Real Estate Witch survey finds that a whopping 65% of homeowners in 2023 confess to experiencing buyer’s remorse, a significant jump from 35% back in 2019.

Interestingly, 71% of those who took the plunge into homeownership during the pandemic (2020 or later) are feeling some pangs of regret, compared to a slightly lower 62% of pre-2020 home buyers. With the clarity of hindsight and a time machine, 57% of homeowners admit they would have tackled the home-buying process differently had they known the actual expenses tied to owning a house.

What would homeowners do differently?

With the gift of hindsight, homeowners would smartly navigate home-buying to dodge financial pitfalls. They’d research costs, save for heftier down payments, explore mortgage options, scrutinize inspections, seek professional guidance, and opt for modest homes—leading to informed choices, reduced regrets, and a confident journey in homeownership.

According to the Real Estate Witch study, 57% of homeowners say they would have altered their home-buying approach if they had been aware of the actual expenses involved in homeownership.

Among this group, the most frequent changes they would have made include:

  • Opting for a low-maintenance home (42%).
  • Negotiating a better deal or contingencies on their property (33%).
  • Choosing a more affordable house (29%).
  • Postponing their home purchase (27%).

A significant proportion of homeowners in the survey (around 85%) report that inflation has affected the expenses related to owning a home, with 35% of them stating that this impact has been substantial.

What should homeowners keep in mind? 

In today’s dynamic real estate market, potential homeowners should carefully evaluate their options before taking the plunge into homeownership. While owning a home can be a rewarding experience, offering stability, a sense of pride, and an opportunity to build equity, it’s crucial to consider the complete financial picture. Prospective buyers should assess their budget, taking into account not only the mortgage payments but also property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities. Especially so if you have to get significant work done on the home to make it liveable, like renovating a bathroom or kitchen. 

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the ongoing costs and potential for unforeseen expenses associated with owning a house.

Furthermore, they should consider the local market conditions, interest rates, and their long-term plans, as these factors can significantly impact the overall financial outcome.

That Norman Rockwell-esque vision of the American Dream is still quite achievable, even in today’s chaotic housing market. But like anything in life, it’s weighing the risks vs. the rewards, both in the short term and the long term. 

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.