Regretting purchase - what to do?

mkiv808November 18, 2009

I made a typical first-time homeowner mistake. I bought on a whim, and frankly - made a decision too quickly and without doing the due diligence and thought that I should've. It was such a great deal that I felt I couldn't pass it up. Now I'm very unhappy with my decision and have been very stressed out about it.

Basically, I bought a new construction townhouse in a very nice complex, but the location of my specific unit is not great. It's at the very tail end of the complex and is close to a semi-busy 2-lane road (maybe 250 feet from it), and is about 1/6 or 1/5 of a mile away from a train. I've lived in very isolated areas my whole life: grew up on a very quiet street with little to no traffic and then a condo complex that was set back far into the woods.

Because of the location - and very slow sales at the beginning of this year - the builder offered these units at $75,000 below the usual asking price of $400,000. I also got a bunch of free upgrades and my closing costs paid. The unit is real nice, but the location is not for me. I need a quiet area and when I buy again will make sure I don't make this mistake twice.

I tried backing out at one point, but the builder refused. I would've lost my down payment.

Now what to do? I am single and have a couple friends that will be moving in as roommates, so my living costs will be relatively low. They've agreed to do a month-to-month rental.

If I list with an agent, I can expect to break even and get my down payment back, at best. I'm meeting with an agent soon to see what they think it's worth. The thing I'm worried about is - with the crappy market (although my area is doing much better than others in the country) - I could have it listed for a long time for the price I want. The wait isn't so bad, but it might look bad to have a listing up for too long.

The other thing I considered is doing something like That way I can get it up on MLS and not have to pay an agent fee. It would be much easier for me to break even or even make a little money. I am financially stable, so I would be able to keep it listed until I get the price I want. But how effective are these services really?

The other option is renting it. The realtor says that the most I could get for rent is $350 short of my total mortgage. It's a gamble, and then I have to pay more capital gains if I do sell it.

I really don't know what to do. This has been extremely stressful, more so than I expected. I will have more clarity on Friday when I meet with the agent, but in the meantime I am distraught. Partly I am kicking myself for doing this, and partly I am just plain stressed at the uncertainty of the situation.

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Did you move in yet?
How long after "buying" did you tell them you wanted out?
Have you spoken to an attorney?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 1:42PM
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I will be moving in soon, but closed a week ago. I tried switching units about 3 months before closing, which was roughly 5 months after I signed the contract. I did talk to a lawyer about switching or canceling, and he basically said there was little I could do about my down payment. I just figured I would deal with it and keep it for a year or two, but the more time I spent in the unit the more it became apparent that I do not want to compromise and would like to move on asap.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Sorry to hear you aren't loving your new place.

The question is "How bad do you want out?" $5k bad? $10k bad? $100k bad? This is likely going to cost you a chunk of change to get out of. If the builder wouldn't let you back out of the deal, that means he didn't have another customer that was willing to pay as much as you were paying.

Since the builder has been trying to sell these units for a while, I would take his estimate over a realtor. That means you would probably have trouble selling it for $325k brand new. Now that you have lived in it, it is no longer new, so you can expect people to pay even less. Also, even if you use a flat fee listing, you are likely going to end up paying 3% to a buyers agent - about $9k. Conservatively, I'd say it would cost $20k for you to sell next month.

Personally, I would just live there and make the best out of the situation. If it has only been a week, you obviously haven't given the place a fair chance. You are upset and probably dwelling on it. Change it up and and have some fun with your friends. Throw yourselves a housewarming party or something. Then, give it 6 months. If you still don't like the place, you can put it up for sale in late spring. In the meantime, start saving up some money because you may have to bring a significant chunk of change to the closing table if you do decide to sell.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 3:22PM
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I agree with billl - stay for a few months. It isn't the end of the world. You'll relax a bit and be more clear-headed as to how to proceed. If you decide 6 months or so from now to sell it - I would use a realtor. Yes, you'll pay the commission, but generally a good realtor will be able to do more than a newbie to sell the home and negotiate the best deal. I don't agree with billl that it will no longer be a new home. It isn't like a car. You can even little things to make your unit more attractive to buyers in the future - custom painting you can DIY, add molding if they aren't there already. Any DIY stuff you can think of.

Take a deep breath and stop thinking about the negative things. Enjoy your life right now and give yourself some time. It will work out.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 3:38PM
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Actually, these units sold out within a few weeks of being listed. They were gone quickly. There was a woman who was right behind me trying to make a deposit at the sales office for the same unit.

It just took a while to build them.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 4:11PM
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During this volatile time in the housing market, I imagine most buyers have remorse when they finish closing. I sure did a couple of years ago.
Years ago, when I bought houses for 27,000 and 55,000 I was elated with the purchases and loved living in the homes.
But when you spend $400,000, it sure doesn't feel so good. I was so worried that I had goofed up big time, worried that I had been influenced by a realtor, worried about every aspect of the purchase and I really couldn't enjoy the home the way I had in the past. It's really taken me two years to be comfortable with my decision and enjoy the wonderful aspects of this new home.
I would advise you to plan on doing nothing for a year. There was a reason that you chose this home. Try to not dwell on the negatives, but consider the positives. In a year, you can re-evaluated your feelings about the home and make decisions from there.
Good luck

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 6:09PM
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* Posted by mkiv808
I will be moving in soon

Gee, you haven't even LIVED there yet!

There is a reason you wanted to live there... so give it a chance. A year from now you will probably be singing a different tune and loving your new home.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 6:27PM
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Thanks for the positive comments, it's been an upsetting process. I will see what the realtor says on Friday, and am curious what his CMA will come out to.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 6:27PM
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I have a relative who appears to have buyer's remorse. But her's isn't really that - it is life remorse. She is just generally unhappy with her life and has focused all her attention on the townhouse she moved into from the house she was unhappy in.

How do I know? Because when I get her to picture George Clooney living next door and coming over to borrow a cup of sugar and hanging out, then she doesn't mind the house. You can replace George with Robert Pattinson or Johnny Depp or whoever you prefer, but you get the drift. Give the place a chance. And check to see whether it is really the townhouse that is causing your unhappiness.

All that said, I sympathize with you. Big life changes are, well, big life changes.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 6:52PM
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Aw, mkiv, I know just how you feel! I closed on our new home three weeks ago and I spent the first few nights after that crying in my pillow. I just knew I made every mistake you could make, the house was full of faults, I spent too much, I got taken, etc. What was done was done though. I have now decided to make lemons out of lemonade. I'm not moved in yet either, but every day I go over there and focus on what I do like and think of ways to make the house better. I have scrubbed it to death and repainted in order to make it feel and smell more "my own."

Know too, that the noise you are hearing is new to you and very noticeable. As you live there, it will be come less so as your ears get used to it. Maybe invest in windows that block noise. After a while it may become barely noticeable--even comforting as you fall asleep.

I think you will feel better in a few weeks. Give it some time, be patient, and above all, forgive yourself.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:04PM
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You posted about this in the summer, wondering if you should change lots. I guess that you didn't follow through?

Previous post from July

Previous post from August

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 11:13PM
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I did follow through, and the builder was stubborn and would not budge. Also talked to a lawyer. No dice.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 11:31PM
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I agree with two points already made...1) the noise may not be so bad once you get used to it and 2) how much is it really worth to you?

When I first moved into my townhouse in the DC metro I woke up as soon as rush hour started due to traffic noise. Now, I don't even hear it (unless the windows are open).

Selling so soon could/will cost you a lot of money. Maybe putting up with it for a year of two would be worth it financially.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 11:59PM
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Noise can be difficult to deal with. I agree with others in that you will get used to it. Also fans help a lot. I've lived in 2 apartments recently that had noise issues. One time 100 feet from 45 mph road and one was about 1/2 mile from train. Fans are the only thing that made this situation tolerable. I've also lived in rural areas with noises that did the same thing only they are usually more unpredictable. Roosters are incredibly loud and just your basic birds near a window can wake me up.

The best situation for me (current house) is bedroom 3 stories up, tree line 100 feet from house and a 1/2 mile from 45 mph road. But I've lived many years without this and if you don't like fans, try some other source of pleasant distracting noise.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 6:07AM
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You haven't even moved in yet, right? So you're standing inside an empty townhouse and worrying that it's too loud. Once you move in, things may seem very different. For one thing, furniture can absorb a lot of noise. Use a lot of fabric: drapes (not blinds) for example. Area rugs, etc.

You might be surprised that things that bother you now become all but forgotten shortly after moving in. I have no advice or knowledge regarding how much you'll get back or how to go about selling. My only advice is to repeat what's been said above. Live in it for a while. Make it into your home. Six months from now you might be glad you didn't act rashly.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:57AM
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A comment regarding noise . The posters who have advised that you will get used to the noise are absolutely correct. When I was a youngster, my Dad worked for the railway and was offered the apartment over the station. The company wanted an on site presence for security purposes and offered a deal you would not believe ! We moved in got settled and for a while were more than a little disturbed by the noise level. The trains were steam driven at that time and had very weird schedules. We got used to it to the point that we hardly heard them. Fast forward to more recent times, shortly after we married, my wife and I were looking at houses ad found one we absolutely loved, she was hesitant as it was located on a fairly busy street, but I prevailed and we bought it. She quickly became accustomed to the noise and we've been here off and on for 33 years. That's the other part of this, we've bought other houses over the years in the same community, moved out of here , rented it and come back. It's an enduring love story. Oh, and the noise level has increased over the years with traffic, we hear it but it's not an irritant. Just wait until the kiddies come if you want noise !

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 6:01AM
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Some of my fondest childhood memories are of waking to the sounds of sprinklers and lawnmowers on the golf course. You DO get used to the noise ---

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:23AM
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I went to a realtor today and he actually suggested selling at a price that is $45,000 higher than what I bought it for for a relatively quick sale that will get me some money back. I'm going to see a couple other realtors to get other opinions, but if that's accurate... it at least confirms my initial inclination that it was a good deal, and I will be able to move on and not worry about it. I'll probably buy a unit in the back of the complex at that point... one that is a safe mile from the train. :) (It is a large complex)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 12:02PM
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Make sure any noise won't bother you there, because a mile is not far noise-wise.

We're nearly 5 miles from any train tracks but still hear them blowing their horns while they go through intersections at night and we're about about a mile from a freeway and depending on the weather (some air conditions transmit sound much further than others) it sounds like it's a block away.

YMMV, of course, but buildings don't do a good job of sound insulation and I suspect that you may not be happy even at the far end of the complex. I'd suggest looking for a unit in that section you can lease if at all possible so you can easily find another complex if you don't like it either.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 4:19PM
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I'm definitely going to camp at the far end of the complex at the times the train goes by to make sure it's OK over there. Luckily quiet a few units, as well as a hill and many trees are between the tracks and the far side.

I did talk to another couple realtors. Everyone seems to be coming in at the same general range, so I think I will be moving forward. Just a matter of finding the right agent.

One thing the unit does not have is kitchen appliances - I've heard conflicting opinions on that. One agent said not to waste my money and just offer a credit to the buyer, one seemed indifferent, and another thought it would be difficult to sell without them. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:30PM
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I can totally understand what you are going through--I did exactly the same thing. I bought a house, which was a great deal, on a VERY busy street. Two lanes each way, both constantly full of traffic. And I am also a very noise sensitive person. I put new windows in before I moved in, but it really didn't help much. I started wearing earplugs to bed, and sleeping with a pillow over my head (which I do to this day). I was miserable for a while, then decided I had to swallow my pride and move on. It was worse because I had bought the house to share with my brother and his roommates. I cried a lot that year.
What I can tell you from that experience is to take a deep breath, things will work out in the end. I was able to sell the house and break even in the end because I got such a good deal and the market was going up. But I wish I had never sold that house, as it was a super rental setup, and would have cash flowed well from the start. But I was too anxious to get out of there and consider that possibility at the time. Take your time and don't be in too much of a hurry, and get a GOOD realtor to give you an honest opinion about timing, price etc..don't just go on what you want to hear. Take your time in picking a new place, arrange to spend a day there if you can to see how it "feels".
The funny thing is I now live very close to train tracks and the noise is quite loud, but I like it! I also lived near an airport and got used to that. So it is hard to predict what will fade out over time, and what will drive you bonkers.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 12:52AM
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You say the complex is selling out in a matter of days after the listings come on the market. And that there was another Buyer that wanted your property too. So, the Seller had multiple buyers, but the place still sold for only $XX. Why did they sell it to you "so cheap" if the place is getting multiple offers only days on the market?
More than likely, it is because this is the price it took to get buyers interested.
I could be wrong here. But if what you are saying is correct, why aren't investors buying all of the units that back up to the tracks at your price, and flipping them for a quick $45,000?
These are questions to be asking your realtors.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 9:27AM
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The builder locks in prices. So, they locked in the price they offered mine before offers came in. They had 6 months of stagnant sales at that point. This was earlier this year. My building took about 6 weeks to completely sell out. The other end unit was taken within 2 days of being available.

I talked to one realtor who is familiar with that builder and said they sold those units cheap to gain capital to start building out phase 2 of their construction, which has just started.

I've spoken to 3 different realtors that have given me the same ballpark figures.

Also, it does not back up to tracks, or a main road. It is just closer than I'm comfortable with.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 2:50PM
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I agree with the others -- give it a chance! What part of the country are you in? The reason I ask -- our house backs up to a fairly buy 25 MPH street. It does annoy me in the summer -- but when we are sitting the deck with friends enjoying some beer and conversation -- the noise is quickly forgotten. If I am out there by myself trying to read a book, yes, it annoys me.

Also, I live in Michigan -- the most we enjoy the backyard is about four months of the year! That makes in the inside living a whole lot more important then the outside!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 9:38AM
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