5 Reasons Why Pandemic Home Buyers are Having Serious Buyer's Remorse

When the pandemic forced everyone to live and work at home, many rushed to buy. Here’s how they're feeling about their choices now.
Updated April 11, 2024
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couple with arms above after buying house

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The pandemic lockdowns made many people look around their space and decide that they wanted to be stuck somewhere bigger and nicer. This mindset, historically low interest rates, and a housing shortage cranked the real estate market up to such a frenzied level that many homebuyers threw caution to the wind. Buyers began making sight-unseen offers within seconds of a house coming on the market.

Many offers were well over the asking price, causing buyers to compete in increasingly creative and risky ways. Home inspections were waived, appraisal contingencies went out the window, and negotiating might mean you would lose a bidding war with 50 other buyers.

The housing market in 2020 and 2021 were so dramatic that even people who weren’t buying or selling a home found themselves reaching for the popcorn and watching it all unfold with no small degree of relief that it wasn’t them. Many of these spectators may be wondering where pandemic homebuyers are now. Unfortunately, according to a Zillow survey, 75% of the people who bought a home during the pandemic didn’t get the happy ending they hoped for.

They compromised too much

Monkey Business/Adobe female realtor showing couple interested in buying around house

When you’ve made several unsuccessful offers on homes, each loss represents yet another broken dream. So, it’s only natural that you might start thinking it’s time to pare down that dream.

Maybe you could afford your dream home at the top of your budget, but with other people slamming down all-cash offers tens-of-thousands dollars higher than your best offer it becomes necessary to lower expectations. A lower budget means letting things go, such as a pool or a basement kitchenette. But you may also forego big things like square footage and how much work a house will need.

For many panicked pandemic homebuyers, the concessions they made were simply too great, and if they could do it over again, they would prioritize getting the house they really wanted over finally winning a bidding war.

They waived home inspections and underestimated maintenance costs

pololia/Adobe man in a hard hat fixing the roof

Many first-time homebuyers or panicked buyers minimized huge renovation projects in order to talk themselves into taking whatever they could get. A lot of these buyers, now facing the work they once downplayed, have discovered their home has problems that are as bad as or worse than they feared.

Waiving a home inspection may have come back to haunt many new homeowners, as issues much bigger and more expensive than they ever imagined have begun cropping up.

They bought a house smaller than they wanted

lowphoto/Adobe tiny gray house on wheels

One of the many reasons the pandemic created such a large wave of homebuyers is that people felt trapped and bored in their homes. This led many pandemic homebuyers to think more square footage would solve the problem.

However, when it came time to buy, these people compromised on their square-footage needs in order to beat out the competition or they simply overestimated the size of the home they ended up purchasing. Whatever the case, many homebuyers report that their new home felt too small.

They wish they’d spent more time looking and weighing options

Andrey Popov/Adobe couple looking at house on laptop

When you’re competing with a dozen other people for the same prize, it’s only natural that your vision will focus on that prize to the exclusion of everything else. Similarly, when you are emotionally spent after more heartbreaks than you can count, the energy to do your due diligence and keep your eyes and options open often simply isn’t there. Which is why many pandemic homebuyers look back on their home-buying experience and wish they had spent more time searching and researching their options.

While much of this is due to the compromises the buyers made and issues with the house, it’s also indicative of a mindset shift. While sellers have been in the power seat since the start of the pandemic, many remorseful homebuyers wish they had retained an attitude of empowerment during their home buying search. A dose of patience would have helped them hold out for their dream house .

They didn’t consider the commute

Monstar Studio/Adobe driver brunette in grey suit stuck in traffic jam

Another issue caused by the pandemic was that homebuyers made a semi-permanent choice while living in a temporary set of circumstances. Many traditional office workers began working remotely in March 2020 and they didn’t begin transitioning back to the office for another 18 months.

Remote work lasted so long that many people either forgot it was temporary or bet that it wasn’t. Unfortunately, when the time came for these buyers to go back to the office, many of them realized they signed up for a commute much longer than they actually wanted to make.

Bottom line

Jacob Lund/Adobe couple handshaking realtor after signing contract

If you are thinking about buying a new home this year but are worried by the horror stories and the high cost of a home, you can still find your dream home. Mortgage interest rates are rising, and this may slow down the housing market. Potential homebuyers should stay patient, be firm with their nonnegotiables, and find the best mortgage lender to help with the process.

And before they make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, remember the old saying, “Act in haste and repent at leisure.”

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Author Details

Olivia Christensen Olivia Christensen is a freelance writer and columnist whose work has been featured in HuffPost, Business Insider, and more. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and three kids, and when she isn't writing, she's probably hiking.

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