Buyers rejoice? Most pandemic-era homebuyers say they have no regrets

The D.C. housing market, along with most of the rest of the nation, is settling into a more normal market now. But a new survey finds homebuyers who bought during the pandemic, especially in the two years leading up to last summer when the market began to cool, don’t have buyer’s remorse.

Buyers went to extraordinary lengths to buy homes during the pandemic: making offers on multiple homes; paying well over list price to get the contract; and digging deep to come up with more cash or borrowing from family.

Despite that, a new LendingTree survey of 1,000 recent homeowners — both first-time buyers and repeat buyers — found 80% don’t regret it. Among baby boomers who bought homes, 90% said they had no regrets.

For one thing, buying a home provides the reward of shelter, which everyone needs. Lending Tree said there is more to it as well.

“It can give you access to generate intergenerational wealth and maybe pass the house on to your children,” said Lending Tree chief economist Jacob Channel. “You’ve got more freedom over what you can do with that space. You don’t have to deal with a difficult landlord.”

He added, “So I think there is not only a physical and financial component that make homeownership worth while, but there is also a lot of emotional elements that go into it.”

One thing pandemic-era buyers may regret, or end up regretting, is having waived contingencies, especially the inspection. Buyers in the past two years were twice as likely to have opted out of an inspection than five years ago. More buyers now have some flexibility in contingencies, and Channel said it is a big mistake to waive an inspection.

“While it may be tempting to waive an inspection to make yourself more appealing to a seller, you’re probably really going to kick yourself,” he said. “You’re saddled with a new mortgage payment and then you find you have to spend another several thousand dollars. Nine times out of 10, you really want to know what is wrong with a home before you commit to buying it.”

Homebuyers were five times as likely to have paid over listing price in the past two years than five years ago. And that wasn’t as easy as just agreeing to a higher price.

“You might have to put forward a bigger down payment,” Channel said. “It might be harder to qualify for a mortgage, especially if you’re trying to go back to a lender and saying, ‘Actually, I need more money than you initially offered me.’ So there can be a lot of logistical and financial challenges involved with it.”

Among those who bought their home in the past two years, 22% said they had issues getting their mortgage because of appraisal values, compared to just 7% five years ago.

Lending Tree’s full survey findings are online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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