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First-Time Home Buyer Hell: Their Biggest Mistakes and Regrets By


Life is full of regrets. There are those unfortunate fashion choices, such as shoulder pads, hammer pants, and the mullet. There’s your crazy ex. (What were you thinking?) And then there’s everything you did wrong when you bought your first home.

The biggest regret of first-time home buyers was that their new abodes turned out to be too small to accommodate their needs, according to a recent Porch survey. The online network that connects homeowners and professionals surveyed just under 1,000 people to come up with its results.

“They bought homes in neighborhoods they could afford at the time,” says Porch spokeswoman Amanda Woolley. “As time passed, their circumstances changed—[their] family grew or incomes increased—and [they] could now likely afford more/different types of home.”

Other things that buyers wish they had done differently included having more savings before closing on their home—millennials in particular copped to this one (15%). But millennials and baby boomers were equally likely to report that they’d underestimated the costs of home buying (14%). Gen Xers were slightly more savvy, with only 12% underestimating the costs.Find homes for sale on

Of course, the cash outlay doesn’t end with closing. About 52% of buyers didn’t plan for additional maintenance in their first year of homeownership. And that maintenance can add up quick.

“There are also a lot of hidden costs that come with home buying, either not anticipating closing costs or the actual cost to upkeep a home that buyers might not have budgeted for,” says Woolley.

Where are first-time home buyers spending their money?

Making the financial situation worse was that about 46% said they went over budget on their home, by about $6,650. Just 16% stayed within their target range, and 38% spent less than they had expected, by about $3,615.

Those who overspent still had to contend with getting their new residences into livable shape. So what did they blow the most dough on?

New homeowners spent the most money on new appliances. (Hey, that old fridge had to go.) Next up was replacing their roofs, followed by installing new furnaces and air-conditioning systems, landscaping, and replacing the floors.

“A general guideline to home maintenance is having 1% of the home’s value in savings to address home improvements,” says Woolley. “When purchasing a home, it can be tough to anticipate what might be an issue in the future, so ensuring you have a budget to address those necessary improvements is crucial.”

What made first-time buyers choose their homes?

So why did first-time buyers have their hearts set on their particular abodes? The most popular reason was simply that the home fit their budgets. That was followed by the property being move-in ready and in a good neighborhood.

Millennials and Gen Xers prioritized the home being the right size and located close to their jobs and in good school districts. Meanwhile, baby boomers were more likely to be concerned with being close to family and the home having good resale potential.

“Buyers should make a list of aspects of a home that are important to them and then make a decision about what features/aspects that are negotiable,” says Woolley. “The one thing about a home that can never change is its location, but you can always remove wallpaper or add space, potentially.”

Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of and an adjunct journalism professor at St. John’s University. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication, the New York Daily News, and the Associated Press. She is also a licensed real estate agent with R New York. Contact her at [email protected] Follow @claretrap