Most Pandemic Buyers Happy with Their New Homes

The news seems to be filled these days with tearful tales of folks who bought homes for well over the asking price—some sight unseen—during the coronavirus pandemic. They lament that they bought these properties at the height of the real estate market, often spending more than they planned, and didn’t have the time to conduct more thorough inspections or determine whether the location was right for them.

Now a reality check: Most folks who closed on new properties aren’t suffering from buyer’s remorse, according to a recent® survey.  Not even close. Almost three-quarters of folks who bought homes in the time of COVID-19 are happy with their purchases, the findings showed. About 1,000 people who purchased homes within the past 12 months participated in the survey, which was conducted between March 26 and April 7.

In fact, about 71% of those surveyed say buying was a good decision, while 75% say their new home is a good fit for their families. In fact, many wish they had taken the plunge and moved sooner, before the number of homes for sale shriveled up just as waves of buyers flooded the market.

“Given the challenges of the year, it is surprising how many recent homeowners are happy with their purchase,” says Senior Economist George Ratiu. “We’ve had a very competitive housing market this year, characterized by very few homes for sale, steeply rising prices, and bidding wars. So, it’s good to hear that the majority of buyers feel good about their decision to buy a home this year.”

The pandemic, coupled with record-low mortgage interest rates, lured more buyers to the market. Many were stuck inside obsessing about every flaw in their abodes or yearning for more space in a new place. Unfortunately, at the same time, many sellers took their properties off the market because they were fearful of contracting the virus from buyers touring their homes.

This led to inventory drying up, homes selling in hours, in some cases, and a rash of bidding wars and offers over asking price. Yet despite the challenges, more than half of successful home buyers, 55%, found a property that gave them what they wanted to work or school from home.

About three-quarters of these homeowners had planned to buy before the pandemic. Just a quarter bought in response to COVID-19. And almost half, 48%, say they didn’t feel rushed or pressured into a sale.

Meanwhile, only 19% wish they had waited to buy and less than a third would have spent more time looking if they could do it all over again.

However, they may have overpaid, as median home list prices hit a record high of $375,000 nationally—not including offers over asking, which has become standard in many markets. Only 61% say they spent at or under their original budget, which means quite a few homeowners went over.

“For quite a few people, they really had to stretch their budgets,” says Ratiu. “For many recent homeowners, at the end of the month they may not have as much disposable income as they expected.”