Neighborhood Regret. While that sounds more like a name for an ‘80s cover band who plays the Starlight Lounge at your local Holiday Inn on Tuesday evenings, it’s a term I came across in a recent article about how homeowners feel about the areas in which they purchase their homes. Wakefield Research conducted a survey of 1,000 “Americans” (I’m honestly not sure if they asked to see proof of citizenship, but in today’s political climate, you never know), and 36% of homebuyers who recently moved regret the neighborhood in which they purchased. In that same survey, 77% don’t believe there’s a reliable way to find complete neighborhood information in order to find the perfect neighborhood. (I have news for them, there’s a 100% fact there’s no such thing as a “perfect” neighborhood, but I digress.)
The point that 36% of homebuyers regret their neighborhood choice isn’t all that surprising, right? What I did find interesting, though, was that the study indicated that both commute time and crime rate were big factors of consideration for the perfect neighborhood, but they tied for second at 37%. What topped the list as the most important consideration in the deciding factor for neighborhood choice at 48%? “Vibe”. Yes, you read that correctly. How in the name of all things holy and real-estate-related do you classify and quantify “vibe” in a neighborhood (peace, love, and a friendly HOA)? While I’m sort of shaking my head because you can’t objectively define “vibe”, I have to admit that I get what they mean at an instinctual level. Lack of social activity in an area, as well as street noise, frequent traffic, and lack of public transportation, were cited as reasons for homebuyer unhappiness. Here’s where it gets even weirder.
While buyers have said they want reliable sources of information on a neighborhood before purchasing a home, less than 40% searched for photos of other parts of the neighborhood. Also, even though safety ranked second on the list of items causing neighborhood regret, three quarters of homeowners did absolutely no research on crime statistics or police reports before purchasing and moving into their homes. Further, almost half of them never visited their potential new home at night before making that purchase and move. That’s sort of like going to McDonald’s and asking the pimply-faced teenager working the register to craft a list of dining options for you that will both help you lose weight and improve your complexion.
As we all know, while we as mortgage and real estate folks ever endeavor to provide buyers with facts and intelligence on which to base their choices, the purchase of a home is ultimately an emotional decision 99% of the time. This doesn’t mean that we should abandon our fact-based approach – in fact, we should probably double our efforts and take a cue from this study and compile a packet with neighborhood photos and safety statistics. Then, we might want to insist on taking them out to the neighborhood in the evening. If we’re lucky, we’ll roll up on a block party, and they’ll be serving street tacos – no one can regret tacos, right?