When house hunting as a real estate investor, first-time buyer, or even as existing homeowners, you may be questioning how many houses should you see before buying. Knowing an average number can be a helpful guide to make sure you don't end up with buyer's remorse after purchasing the first property you see or regretting not purchasing a property you saw earlier on. So let's take a closer look at what the numbers tell us and what factors impact how many houses a prospective buyer should view before buying.
Do your research first
Before starting the homebuying process on your own, with your business partner, with your significant other, or the whole family, decide what features are important to you for the new piece of real estate to have. Consider all the "standard" things like square footage, bedroom and bathroom count, location, and amenities. But also take the time to think about additional features, such as whether having a separate space for a home office is necessary, if you want a single or multi-story home, or if an indoor laundry matters.
Perhaps you want shade trees so you're more comfortable outside in the summer months while the kids play, or you would rather not have them because of the cost of landscaping or tree-trimming maintenance. After you've determined your wishlist, call your Realtor and share these items with them. It will help them better narrow down the houses so that neither of you end up wasting time.
Target one or two neighborhoods
Using a neighborhood's average list price to determine where you shop will reduce wasted time shopping in areas you can't afford. Know what monthly payment works for your budget, and ask what neighborhoods match that price point with the neighborhood amenities you desire. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to get caught up in the house features and completely forget about the overall location of the home. Although we all want that perfect property, if the schools are terrible, the commute takes hours each day, or the area has high crime rates, you won't be happy with the home purchase in the long run.
No one wants to look at houses that aren't going to work for them. It's a waste of everyone's time. Before scheduling a showing, take the time to look at the listing online. If you're using an agent, they can send you the listing link, or you can use sites like Redfin or Zillow to view the house.
The internet allows us the opportunity to easily and efficiently narrow down the hundreds of options to a handful. Nowadays, many homes will offer a virtual or 3D tour. You may be able to eliminate a home without ever having to set foot in it.
Many times, the listing agent will also highlight the important features in the description, which can give you a better feel for the home than the basic bedroom count, building construction, and year built of a piece of real estate.
What's the magic number?
The National Association of Realtors found that the average homebuyer searched for eight weeks and looked at nine homes, viewing five of these homes online. You may be able to find exactly what you're looking for right out of the starting gate, especially if you're flexible with your needs or are looking at remodeling so that it's only the "bones" that matter. Those who are more particular may have to look at more houses, and those working in a smaller town may have to look over a longer period of time.
The number of homes seen before buying will also vary greatly with the housing market. If you are in a buyer's market, you can usually take your time looking at a larger number of houses over an extended period of time. But if it's a seller's market, you will have to act quickly before you lose the desired listing. In this case, efficiency and decisiveness will be key. So how to know if it's the right choice?
Questions to ask yourself to determine if it's 'the one'
Almost all house hunters will get to the point where they must choose between two or three viable options. That's when it's important to sit down and ask yourself a few questions. They may seem obvious enough, but oftentimes these three simple questions will clarify which home will be the best fit.
1. Will this property meet our needs?
Think back to your original checklist of noncompromisable items. Which property checks more boxes than another? When you compare properties, it can be easier to see which home stands out.
2. What features are most important?
No house is perfect, so decide which features matter more. Is it the size or location or the pool out back?
3. Does this financially make sense?
The mortgage payment is one aspect, but you also should consider the home price in relation to the going rate. It's easy to overpay in a competitive market. Go into the transaction with the least amount of emotion as possible.
The Millionacres bottom line
As a homebuyer, the decision is yours to make, and with such a large price tag, you obviously don't want to mess this up. If you do your research and trust yourself, the number of homes you view really isn't all that important. The house hunt may end after your second showing, or you may see 20 homes before you put in an offer. Hopefully, you will find the right one in fewer homes than more, but ultimately, as long as you find it, that's what really matters.