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Majority of recent homebuyers have regrets: survey

A report released this week by St. Louis-based Clever Real Estate found that recent homebuyers, as well as people who are considering a home purchase in the next year, are experiencing a laundry list of difficulties.

Last month, Clever surveyed a total of 920 Americans about their views of the home purchase process and real estate agents. The respondents included 420 people who bought a home in 2023 or 2024, and another 500 who plan to do so in 2024 or 2025.

“We found that buyers stepping into the 2024 housing market have much to learn from previous shoppers,” the report stated.

Even after navigating the climate of higher mortgage rates and a dearth of available listings, 82% of recent buyers had regrets about their purchase, Clever reported. More than 40% of this group said they’ve struggled to make on-time mortgage payments or have taken on new debt to maintain their current lifestyle.

Another of the key findings is that there may be a mismatch in consumer expectations regarding home prices. People who are planning to buy a home by the end of 2025 expect to pay $483,490 on average, but 52% of those who have purchased since the start of 2023 have spent more than $500,000.

Nearly one-third of recent buyers said that “purchasing a home was harder than expected because of financial reasons,” with high interest rates and a purchase price that exceeded their budget topping the list of reasons why. And nearly half (47%) said they “feel in over their heads financially since purchasing their home.”

The vast majority (85%) of these recent buyers also reported making compromises on their home purchase. “Although 48% of buyers wanted an affordable home, a whopping 37% bought a home that was more expensive than they planned,” the report explained.

More than 80% of recent buyers asked for at least one seller concession. The most frequently mentioned concessions were a lower asking price, funds to make repairs, and the ability to keep existing appliances or furniture.

Importantly, however, 65% of these recent buyers also reported making at least one concession to the seller, indicative of the seller’s market that exists in many parts of the country. Among this group, about one in four agreed to purchase their home “as is.”

The survey also delved into the use of real estate agents. It noted the upcoming changes to agent commission structures following the nationwide settlement by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several major brokerage firms.

Roughly three-quarters of respondents said that it’s “important to have an agent represent them in the homebuying process.” But half of the prospective buyers surveyed said they would forgo representation due to the possibility of having to pay their agent’s commission.

“Buyers are understandably wary of a new commission model that would increase their upfront expenses,” the report noted. “Yet proposed changes could lead to greater benefits, such as increased transparency about how commission is paid and what services are included.”

Three in four survey respondents said they’d be more likely to use an agent if they had a “detailed breakdown of services” included in the cost. And 67% said they’d prefer “a la carte real estate services” that allow them to pick and choose what they want while saving money on things they can do on their own.

Some brokerages have already announced their intention to better illustrate the value of agents to clients.

Compass, for example, is planning to launch a portal in which buyers and sellers will be able to track agent tasks, include comparative market analyses, tour scheduling and negotiations with listing agents. And RE/MAX CEO Erik Carlson recently noted that his firm is developing new training and educational materials for its affiliates so that agents can be better prepared to answer client questions.

Although nearly 80% of prospective buyers in the Clever survey plan to hire an agent, 42% of recent buyers reported that “their agent was less helpful than expected,” while 54% said that the agent “care more about making a deal than their best interests.” Nearly 30% of recent buyers were not represented by an agent.

Clever conducted a previous survey in which 94% of respondents who plan to sell their home in the next year expressed support for a commission structure in which buyers are responsible for paying their agent. That share dropped to 61% in the buyer survey.

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