Making an offer on a house isn’t a simple decision like deciding what box of cereal to buy at the grocery store. It’s a significant commitment, and the first-time buyers we work with here in Minneapolis get understandably nervous when they feel they’re rushing in too soon or being picky. So the question is: How many homes should you look at before making an offer? Is five too little, is 20 too many?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula that you can apply to this situation because it depends on a lot of factors and no two buyers are the same. Some people buy the first house they see, while others are still looking for the perfect home.
The average number of homes buyers view before purchasing is 10
While it's hard to say for sure how many homes you should look at before purchasing, there has been research on the average number of properties people look at before buying.
In 2017, the National Association of REALTORS® published a Generational Trends Report that indicated, “Buyers typically searched for ten weeks and looked at a median of ten homes. The length of the home search was the longest for buyers 37 to 51 years at 12 weeks.”
For some people, ten homes may only be the tip of the iceberg, but remember it’s not about how many houses you see, it’s about finding the right home that suits your needs.
How many houses do first time home buyers look at?
In general, first-time buyers tend to look at fewer homes and make up their minds quicker than existing homeowners because they’re eager to get on the property ladder.
Oftentimes as real estate agents we find that our first-time homebuyers think: If house number 2 ticks all the boxes, why should we waste time seeing another 20? And we have to say, it's certainly hard to argue with that logic!
Have a plan for the house hunting process
Many first-time buyers start house hunting with a vague idea of what they’d like but are easily swayed by attractive staging or specific fixtures in the home that catch their eye. When you see a lot of houses, each with something you like, it can be challenging to make a decision.
If you don’t want to waste months of your time house hunting then having a focused plan of attack is a good idea. Knowing your must-haves in advance can help narrow your search, so you’re only looking at certain houses with the features you need. A plan will also help you keep within budget so you’re not looking at homes that are more than you can afford.
In our home buying workbook, we help our clients formulate a plan and get clear on their financials and must-haves. We just find that house hunting is so much more successful with these factors already in mind.
More Tips for focused house hunting
Choose a location (or two)
You've probably heard that location is everything, so do your homework on the neighborhoods you want to live in and visit often, have dinner or visit friends that live there. The location will also determine the affordability of the home.
This is especially true in Minnesota, where homes in downtown Minneapolis will differ a lot in both form and structure from a more suburban neighborhood. Another solid tip is to park your car and take a walk around some desired places to get a better feel for the neighborhood.
What’s your lifestyle?
Do you want shops, restaurants, a local gym, child care, schools? Do you want to be close to your work, friends or family?
Write a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves - This helps to narrow the search and gets you mentally organized. Keep it with you when you go to open houses, you can also give the list to a realtor to identify suitable properties for you to look at.
Know your budget
Get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know what you can afford and can further narrow your search. Pre-approval will also give you the freedom to move quickly when you want to put in an offer.
You may have a ‘dream home’ in mind, but you could spend years looking for it while the market moves on without you. Recognize that the perfect property doesn’t always exist, so keep your expectations realistic and stay focused on your budget.