Given the hot market, homebuyers are making decisions faster than ever, and some feel remorse . Here's what to do if you hate your house.
Homebuyers have been under a lot of pressure in the current market. For some, that pressure drove them to buy houses that weren’t quite right for them, leading to homebuyers’ remorse.
If you find yourself less than enamored with your new home and you’re wondering what to do if you hate your house, know that a little bit of homebuyers’ remorse is normal. And even if you’re really unhappy with your house, there are plenty of ways to revamp the space. But most important, think of your first home is a stepping stone, not a final destination.
Is it normal to feel regret after buying a house?
The twang of regret may seem out of the ordinary – after all, you just bought a house. Shouldn’t you be excited? But a survey by Real Estate Witch found that of millennials who already owned a home, 82% had at least one significant regret from their first home purchase. And 64% of millennials polled in a Bankrate survey had regrets about their home purchase.
“Buyers’ remorse is a very normal thing because it’s a large purchase whether it's like, ‘Wow, I have this mortgage now and I need to make sure I'm able to pay this,’ or you feel sticker shock, it comes with the territory,” says Maegan Bucur, editor-in-chief and interior designer at The Rhythm of The Home. “I understand why homeowners can feel buyers’ remorse because there’s that excitement of, ‘Wow, this is something new and this house has great potential,’ but then you come down from the adrenaline rush and excitement…and you're like, ‘Ok, this is a big price tag.’”
In the Bankrate survey, about 25% of Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers felt that their home was too big, and about 30% of those groups thought their home was too small. It may be that these types of nitpicks come up as you settle into your property, and the question of what to do if you hate your house crosses your mind.
“There’s that excitement of, ‘Wow, this is something new and this house has great potential,’ but then you come down from the adrenaline rush and excitement…and you're like, ‘Ok, this is a big price tag.’”
Maegan Bucur, editor-in-chief and interior designer at The Rhythm of The Home
In competitive markets, homebuyers may only get to see a home once or twice before they buy it. And those visits may be fairly short, limiting the amount of time you get to spend getting a feel for the property or really envisioning yourself there.
What wasn’t apparent when you were touring or doing the final walkthrough becomes a scab to pick at.
Rae Beeman, interior decorator and blogger at Rae Elizabeth Design, said that homebuyers’ remorse becomes an issue when you make that transition from escaping the stressful housing market to facing the reality of the home you purchased. The property may have less charm than you initially thought, or you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work it needs to really feel like your own.
Sometimes, homebuyers’ remorse is an initial reaction to the fact that it takes a while for a property to feel like a true home, says Dan Wiener, founder and lead interior designer of Homedude. Just because you own the place doesn’t mean it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy from the day you get your keys.
Can I sell the house I just bought if I hate it?
If you hate your house, your impulse might be to sell it and buy a new one. But because of all the upfront costs you just put down, it typically doesn’t make sense to sell for at least three to five years. It costs about 9-10% of your home’s entire value to sell it. If your home cost $300,000, you could spend $30,000 selling it. If your home didn't appreciate that much since you bought it, you will lose money by selling.
You’re better off finding ways to make the home work for you than rushing to sell it. If nothing else, you’ll be gaining equity in the property, which you can use in a few years to buy a house you really love.
And with all the decorating and fixing up you do while you’re in the property, you may be able to rent it out after you buy your next place and turn a bad situation into one that makes you money in the long run.
What to do if you hate the house you bought
If you’re seriously rethinking your decision to buy this particular home, there are ways to improve your situation.
Remember that it’s a stepping stone
There’s no rule that says your first house has to be your dream house. That may have been possible at one time in history, but not today.
The reality is that most people “settle” to get into their first home. It doesn’t have 4 bedrooms, a wraparound porch, and a one-acre yard with a heated dog house in the back. Your dream home may not come until you’re 10 years into homeownership, and that’s okay.
Your first house is a stepping stone – a way to build equity on your journey to your eventual goal. First-time buyers often put too much pressure on themselves to find the mythical “perfect” home their first at-bat in the major leagues. A base hit is okay.
Eventually, you’ll sell the home or turn it into a rental. The important part is that you broke into homeownership, and for that, you should give yourself a bit of congratulations instead of loathing.
Give it time
“First, take some time to get to know your new home,” Wiener says. “Once you've unpacked and settled in, explore every nook and cranny. Get to know your neighbors and learn about the community you live in. The more comfortable you feel in your new home, the less likely you [will be to] regret your purchase.”
Bucur adds that even once you’ve unpacked and decorated to your taste, it can still take time to really settle in.
It's brand new, you've made so many memories in your old place, and when you’re thinking of fond memories, you're thinking about the previous home,” she says. “You haven't really made any memories to make this new house feel like a home. It feels more like a house that just has your stuff in it.”
Get some perspective
If a few months have passed and you’re still not warming up to the home, don’t write it off as a terrible choice just yet. Try to determine what it is that’s causing you frustration or regret.
“The most important thing homebuyers can do before making any big decisions is to step back and figure out why they don't like the home,” Wiener says. “Once they better understand what's wrong, they can start taking steps to fix the problems. This might involve making design changes or getting to know the neighborhood.”
Remember why you bought the house – and why you moved in the first place
Think back to what was attractive about the house and why you fell in love with the property in the first place Bucur suggests.
“I've experienced this with getting an apartment where I'm like, ‘I'm stuck in a 12-month lease and I hate this place,’…where you look back at the other places you've lived and you look at them with rose-colored glasses,” she says. “You have to remember, why did I want to leave [that property] in the first place? What things did I love about the new home? Why did I choose it? Because there was a reason why you signed on the dotted line.”
Start with budget-friendly renovations
It may be that your new house doesn’t feel like a home because it doesn’t align with your aesthetics or it just feels like it was decorated 30 years ago.
Fortunately, there are a number of budget-friendly ways to spruce up a space that can make a big difference to how you feel in the home.
Budget-friendly design ideas:
- Give all the rooms a fresh coat of paint
- Replace harsh lighting with warmer bulbs and upgrade outdated fixtures
- Add some greenery in the form of easy-to-care-for houseplants
- Replace faucets and other small fixtures that are grimy or outdated
- Hang curtains and blinds
- Repaint and refinish kitchen and bathroom cabinets
- Put a mobile island in the kitchen for more counter and dining space
- Replace old door knobs and handles
- Buy furniture covers for couches and chairs in need of new upholstery
- Shop garage and estate sales for interesting and affordable art and decor
- Repurpose old fabric into artwork, covers, tapestry, blankets, garlands, mosaics, and wreaths
- Frame free online printable artwork to add some dimension and color to the home
- DIY some new flooring to replace old tiles or carpet
“Add personal touches," Wiener advises. “You could do this by working with what you already have, like putting up pictures of your friends and family, lighting a candle with your favorite scent, or setting up a cozy reading nook filled with your favorite books.”
“By making your new home feel like your own, you'll be more likely to fall in love with it again,” he adds.
“By making your new home feel like your own, you'll be more likely to fall in love with it again.”
Dan Wiener, founder and lead interior designer of Homedude
Beeman recommends shopping your home and rearranging in surprising ways “because many times if you're remorseful, the knee-jerk reaction would be, ‘I need to totally overhaul this,’ but with those on a budget that might not be doable,” she says. “Start small and build up, and use those little pops of color in your house, shop your home with what you already have and change things around, play with it and see if that helps.”
Get creative with friends as well and do a design swap. “Some people might not like that [idea], but for others, especially on a budget, that might be a fun social way to get across that bridge to redo your home,” Beeman said, “And you can go as far with this as you want, but getting together with a friend and saying, ‘Hey, this is where I'm at. Could we do a decor swap? Could we swap a few items?’ then that way, they have some fresh things to decorate with, too.”
Most importantly, be flexible and willing to make new memories in your new home with friends and family to break it in.
What to do if you hate your house FAQs
Is it normal to hate your house? Yes, it’s completely normal to feel homebuyers’ remorse because it’s a big, life-changing purchase. With a bit of time to warm up to the new space, and some budget-friendly redesigns, you may be able to reignite your excitement about the home.
How can I love my home again? Many homeowners begin to enjoy their home by giving it personal touches, making new memories at the new house, and embracing what they found enchanting about the home when they first decided to make an offer. Fresh paint, warmer lighting, family photos, and decorating with inexpensive art are all budget-friendly ways to make your mark on the home.
What do I do if I hate the house I just bought? First, remember that it’s a stepping stone to your ultimate destination. It’s okay to settle on a home to break into homeownership. Take a long view. Then, take some time to think about why the property may not feel right. You may simply need some time to adjust to the new home and neighborhood, especially if you were happy in your previous place. Focus on what you liked about the house to begin with, and focus on making the space feel like yours. Add photos and decor, change up the lighting, start a garden, or take other steps to create new memories and rituals. The more you treat the property as a home, the more it will feel like one.
The bottom line
Lots of people feel some regret after buying their homes. After all, it’s a huge purchase and when the adrenaline of the house hunt and approval process is over, it’s natural to wonder whether you made the right choice.
But chances are, you’re going to be living in this house for the next several years, so find ways to make the most of it. The more positive and proactive you can be about finding things to like and making it cozy, the more likely you are to come around to the home.
Here's what to remember if you hate the house you just bought:
- It’s normal to feel some regret after you buy a house
- You’re typically better off making the most of the home than selling it right away
- Budget-friendly changes to the home, such as new paint and decor, can make a big difference to how the space feels
- It takes time to adjust to a new house, so don’t expect to love it right away – even if it’s one you own