Chestnut Roasting

Good old Buyer’s Remorse. A dog-eared catchphrase in the well-worn lexicon of real estate. One of it’s grand old chestnuts.

Oft-experienced. Oft-invoked. Buyer’s Remorse is the staple we trot out of the stable when we don’t have other words to describe unstable weather (or whether not) conditions inside a troubled buyer’s head.

Deep down “there.” In the dark corners of the mysteriously thick skulls we all possess. Where rational layers of neo-cortex rub up against a Pandora’s Box full of inner demons residing in the lowly, sub-cortical regions of the brain. Tiny bottomless pits of adrenalin, emotion, survival instincts and ancient, hair-trigger, fright-and-flight mechanisms ready to go off at a nanosecond’s notice.

Moribund tales of Buyers Remorse abound. Every Realtor has their share. Etched indelibly onto the casualty rolls of hard to forget, crash and burn transactions. Decimated deals. Escrows that flew south when terror attacks came in the middle of the night. Skittish clients spooked and bolting out of their comfort zone. As the song says: Remorse is remorse of course of course. And no one can talk to remorse of course. Except maybe a house whisperer named Ed.

There’s the story about the offer that went along just fine until it came time to actually sign it. Or worse…write the deposit check. The one about the multiple offer situation where all ten would-be buyers panicked and ended up scattering to the winds. The one about the serial buyers who kept buying a new house every year thinking the next one was really going to fix their lives. The one about the buyer who was just as anxiety-ridden at the thought of getting the house as he was about not getting the house. Hundreds of stories about poor first-time buyers who turned tail and ran as soon as they got a gander at their first home inspection. And thousands more.

Suffice to say no one is immune. Buyers are only human. We all have boogey-men hiding in our closets. What better time to take them out for a stroll than in the middle of buying a home?

In the old days Buyer’s Remorse seemed simpler. More straight-forward. It usually camped out at the far end of the regret spectrum. Where there was no going back. Right after Close of Escrow (COE). When the Dirty Deed was already done.

My made up Latin name for this familiar garden-variety is Post-Rigor-Remorsus.

Buyers act diligently. Move steadily through escrow. Cross T’s. Dot I’s. Rigorously attend to each detail along the way. But some put their heads down a little too far. Focus so intently on small things, they don’t notice their own shadows following them. Walking like dopplegangers in their own shoes.

This kind of double-trouble lies in wait until the dust settles. When those powerful, brain-produced, mind-altering drugs linked to anticipation and excitement have vanished. Reality doesn’t always live up to realty’s staging. Be careful what you wish for…the saying goes. The other you just might get it.

What do Buyers do if post-rigor-remorsus strikes? One of three things: a) Kick their own butts unmercifully. Don hairshirts of self-blame for eternity. 2) Go through their inner rolodex and find someone else to blame. Or better yet, find everyone else to blame. 3) Move on. Get back to the bigger picture. Nothing is ever as perfect as imagined. Dream homes included.

These days more people are showing signs of Early-Onset, Pre-Remorsus-Remorsus. It won’t be listed in the upcoming fifth edition of the DSM due out next year – but it’s becoming endemic. Increasing numbers of Buyers are regretting all the regrets they might succumb to long before they’ve ever had a chance to get there and start regretting where they are at. More on this next week.

And after that? Seller’s Remorse…the other dark meat.

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