3 Things Buyers Often Regret Compromising on in Their New Homes

It’s often necessary for homebuyers to make compromises based on their budgets. You might start out with a wish list of features you want your new home to have, but as you learn just how much those things actually cost, things get crossed off one by one. Compromise too much, though, and you might find that some of those features you thought were simply nice to have were actually really important. And now you’re stuck having to do without them. It’s one thing to have buyer’s remorse with a pair of shoes, but when it comes to your home, you will have to learn to live with it — literally. Here are some buyers who found this out the hard way when they had to make some tough decisions about major home features.

1. Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so the saying goes. Not surprisingly, it’s a room that many buyers focus on during the house hunt, and it can often end in a bit of a broken heart.  Sarah is a homeowner in Westminster, Maryland who had to relocate rather quickly with her family when her husband got a new job in another town. The home they purchased was full of old kitchen appliances and a “laundry list of repairs,” she says. Since moving in, they’ve had to replace the washer, dryer, oven, and refrigerator. “Each [repair] was an adventure,” Sarah says, noting that they went six months without an oven. “The microwave is so old that it doesn’t have a turntable, but surprisingly, it’s the only thing that has worked really well,” she says. Valentina, a homeowner in Marlboro, New Jersey, made a kitchen compromise of her own. “I wanted a newer kitchen, but the house has a pool, which makes everyone else [in my family] happy,” she says. She is hoping to update the kitchen one of these days, but for now, there’s plenty of summertime fun to be had.

2. Bathrooms

Are there ever enough bathrooms in a home? The answer for plenty of homeowners is no. Jackie, a homeowner in West Orange, New Jersey laments not having an ensuite bath in the primary bedroom. “When we bought our home, our kids were young and the idea of privacy wasn’t something we were really thinking about,” she says. “Now that they are older, I really wish we had our own space.” When asked what she regrets compromising on in her home, Jeanne from Massachusetts says, “My half bath. It’s as small as it sounds, and it just gets smaller as the years go by.” She says she and her husband love the house — which has another full bath — for many other reasons, including the location. But the sticking point was — and still is — that small half bath. “I’ve considered making it a full [bath], but that is almost more than it’s worth,” she says.

3. Basement

For a room that’s at the very bottom of a home, the basement is often on the top of a house hunter’s wish list. Basements aren’t always a popular home feature, depending on the part of the country you live in (the soil is just too soft in some regions to handle anything but a slab foundation). But where they are common, they are often sorely missed. From slick man caves, to home gyms, to playrooms, to simple storage spaces, a basement is a must-have for some. Larissa, a homeowner from Bridgewater, New Jersey had high hopes for a fully-finished basement. Instead, she settled for a half-basement that’s half finished. (It currently serves as a workspace for her husband.) The other parts of their home, though, have certainly lessened the blow. “We love the two-car garage, large great room, and very large yard,” she says. Storage and recreation space — solved!

Is there such a thing as a perfect house? Perhaps if you’ve got the bucks to build one from the ground up. But when you’re looking at existing homes, probably not. Here are some other features that homeowners wish they had held out for during the home search:

  • Driveway/garage 
  • Bigger yard
  • More/larger bedrooms
  • More closet space
  • Central air

“It’s all a compromise,” says Stephanie, a Long Island homeowner. She talks about the half-basement that she wishes were full, the tiny guest bathroom, and the closets that oddly seemed to have shrunk once she and her husband had kids. “But we have a great backyard on a dead end with great neighbors,” she says.