Learn From Their Mistakes: What Homeowners, Renters Regret

homeowner regrets: woman with head in handsJed Kolko is the chief economist for online listings site Trulia. This article originally appeared on the Trulia Trends blog.

Spring house-hunting season is upon us. Home searches peak in March and April, and this year the search is especially frantic as inventory is near a 12-year low. Many homes don't stay on the market for long, so buyers will have to move fast -- especially in markets with bidding wars and competing investor activity. But when it comes to searching for a home, as with everything else, moving too fast leads to mistakes and regrets. To find out which regrets are most common -- and who is most prone to making decisions they'll later regret -- we asked more than 2,000 consumers what, if anything, they regret about their current home and most recent home-search process.

Trulia real estate regrets survey

Buyers in a Rush; Sellers, Not So Much

The biggest challenge for homebuyers this season is the lack of inventory, which is down 20 percent to 25 percent year-over-year and near its lowest level since before the housing bubble. Our consumer survey shows that people think now is the time to buy, not sell: 75 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "It would be better to buy a home now than one year from now." But only 32 percent of respondents (and just 29 percent of current homeowners) felt the same way about selling now rather than one year from now.

Eager buyers, patient sellers: People want to buy before prices rise further, but no one wants to sell at the bottom -- especially if they're still underwater. These attitudes point to a 2013 housing season with bidding wars and stiff competition among buyers who want to get ahead of further price increases.

On the rental side, too, inventory remains tight: Census data show rental vacancy rates also near a 12-year low. So whether they're looking to buy or rent, house hunters in 2013 will feel like they don't have the luxury of taking their time and holding out for the perfect home. Many will need to act fast -- and some will make decisions that they could regret later. With that in mind, we asked current homeowners and renters about their housing regrets; their answers are lessons for today's house-hunters.

Trulia real estate regrets survey

What Homeowners Regret About their Homes

Just over half of people -- 52 percent -- have at least one regret about their current home or the process of choosing it. (In this analysis, we exclude the 11 percent of respondents who said they were not involved in the process of choosing their current home.) Renters are more likely to have regrets than homeowners -- 56 percent of renters versus 50 percent of homeowners -- and their regrets are somewhat different, so we look at homeowners and renters separately.

Among homeowners, the top regret is wishing they had chosen a larger home: 34 percent of homeowners with regrets -- that's 17 percent of all homeowners -- mentioned this. The second most common regret -- 27 percent of homeowners with regrets -- is wishing they had done more remodeling when they bought the home. Third was wishing they had more information about the home before choosing it.

Find out what renters regret at the Trulia Trends blog.

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