Having Second Thoughts?

Once Escrow Closes, You Can’t Return the House

Credit: Courtesy

Q: Marsha, you’ve talked about multiple offers and how buyers get caught up in “auction fever” only to regret it later. I recognize myself in that description. I’m in contract on a house I saw online and immediately loved. This is my first home purchase. After seeing the home, I quickly made an offer. There were multiple offers, and I prevailed. I feel like I’ve made a mistake, and I want to cancel.

A:  As the Victorians said, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Well, you’re not married to the home … yet. What you’re experiencing is buyer’s remorse. In real estate, the only practical time you can act on buyer’s remorse is before the purchase closes. Houses are unique. You can’t take a house for a test drive; they won’t let you move in to see if it really fits. Also, unlike most products (cars, appliances, shoes), you can’t return a house. Once escrow closes, it’s yours, no returns or exchanges.

Now, as to your dilemma: Perhaps your remorse lies in the fact that you spent more than you wanted. Or the home’s not in the tip-top condition you desired. You walked around the neighborhood and noticed barking dogs or heavier traffic than you originally thought. It is unnerving that in today’s market buyers must act quickly or lose out. All your rational reasons could be masking the true culprit. This is the largest purchase you’ve ever made, and you’re scared!

When you began your property search you wanted certain qualities in a home. During the process these desires may have evolved, but some were immutable. Does this home meet at least three of the five top qualities you wanted? Spend some more time in and around the home and consider the pros and cons. Viewing a home once and making a purchase is scary; however, it’s not unusual, and in our burning-hot market, it’s the norm.

What would be the consequences of canceling the contract? It depends on the purchase contract and where you are in the timeline.

Contracts have contingencies that the buyer must approve. A principal contingency is the home inspection and the physical condition of the home. If a loan is involved, then there is also an appraisal contingency. If any of these contingencies isn’t met and approved during the contract’s specific time frame, you may cancel the purchase at no cost.

When you opened escrow, you put a deposit into the transaction. If all your contingencies have already been removed, it could cost you some money to rescind the contract. Consider talking with a real estate attorney.

If you decide you truly don’t want the home, whatever it costs will be worth the money.  

Something tells me, however, that your buyer’s remorse is temporary. Once you weigh the pros and cons and gain perspective, you’ll see your initial instincts about the home were correct. If that’s true, move forward and complete your purchase, and enjoy your new home for many years to come. Let me know how it goes.


Marsha Gray, DRE #012102130, NMLS#1982164, has been a real estate broker in Santa Barbara for over 20 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, real estate services and lending. To read more Q&A articles visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. She will research and answer all questions submitted. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or MarshaGraySB@gmail.com.


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