Looking at houses can be fun, but at some point, you’ll need to decide which one of them you want the keys to. For many of us, buying a home is the biggest, most expensive purchase we’ll ever make. Any amount of nerves is appropriate because, of course, you want to get it right.
You may not want to purchase the first house you see or tour, but you probably don’t want to spend more of your life scrolling through hundreds of listings or attending endless open houses.
Which leads to the inevitable question: How much is enough? How many houses should you view before you get serious about making an offer?
The answer will likely be a combination of the average numbers for prospective home buyers, your gut instinct and your judgment of the homes you see. In short, your number might look different from another aspiring home buyer’s number.
How Many Houses Should You View Before Making an Offer?
To confidently make an offer, you must get a feel for what’s available to you in your home buying price range. The best way to develop that instinct is to tour homes online or in person and examine each home’s features and offers.
The number of houses you tour will depend on you and your house-viewing threshold. There’s no rule engraved in some stone that dictates how many homes you must see before you make an offer. We aren’t necessarily fans of this approach, but some buyers will even buy a house sight unseen.
The average home buyer looks at eight homes while they’re house hunting. You may see eight homes and still not feel convinced that you’ve found “the one” – and that’s completely fine. On the other hand, you might fall in love with the third house you see – and that’s okay, too.
What matters most isn’t the number of houses you see. What matters is your instinct about the home(s) that interests you and your confidence in making a winning offer.
The benefit of not buying the first house you see is that you can evaluate and compare different properties. When you compare homes, you can pinpoint deal breakers and make decisions based on your priorities.
For example, you may love the front yard of one home you saw, but it’s on a noisy street. The next house on your tour may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but it’s in a quiet, storybook cul-de-sac. Are you more attracted to curb appeal or peace and quiet?
Seeing a few homes will help you get a better feel for what’s out there and what you can expect to find within your price range.
How many homes should I view as a first-time home buyer?
We recommend first-time home buyers view around 6 – 12 homes before buying. This ballpark figure should be just the right amount to help you find the perfect home in your price range.
Weighing your options is essential, but looking at every home that piques your interest can have downsides. The luxury of choice can quickly become a burden, and you may become overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities. After about 20 or 30 houses, it may be hard to keep everything straight and remember which places you like or never want to see again.
Viewing homes is all about balance. Don’t tour too few – but don’t tour too many Goldilocks.
Other Mistakes To Avoid When Looking at Homes
There are more pitfalls to avoid besides seeing too many homes while house hunting.
Making an offer on the first home, you see in person
Don’t let the excitement of buying a home cloud your judgment. You might think the first home you tour is “the one,” but that’s probably because you don’t have anything to compare it to. Buying the first home, you see, probably isn’t the wisest choice. Allow yourself to look around, explore your options and compare properties.
Making an offer on a home you’ve only seen virtually
Virtual showings let you visit homes from the comfort of your couch. In theory, you can tour dozens or hundreds of homes virtually. Private showings and open houses limit you to a handful of viewings on any given day.
Virtual tours are quick and convenient, but you should always try and tour a home in person before drafting an offer. Photos and videos might not paint a complete picture (pun intended). Angles, lighting, and editing can make a fixer-upper look like a finished product.
When you view a home in person, you can see its defects, including uneven flooring, wonky windows and small cracks in walls.
Even if a home looks perfect online, see it in person if you really want to make an offer. It may save you from potential (and costly) headaches later on.
Before You Tour
So you’ve found a few homes you want to see, and you want to make appointments to tour them. Take these next steps before you set foot in a home to get the most out of your tour.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Unless you’re planning on buying a house with cash, get a mortgage preapproval letter from a lender before you tour any homes. The preapproval will give you insight into how much home you can afford, and it’s a signal to sellers that you’re a serious buyer.
Find a real estate agent
Finding a real estate agent should be the next step in your home buying process. Your real estate agent can schedule showings, help you find homes in your price range, and help you make an offer.
When in Doubt, Tour Some More
Closing on a home is a big deal. And the last thing you want to do is experience buyer’s remorse.
Finding the right home will take as long – or as short – as it needs. There’s no magic number of houses you should see before you buy.
If you have the luxury of time and feel like you haven’t found the right home to call your own, keep calm and tour on.
National Association of REALTORS®. “Highlights From the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.” Retrieved September 2022 from https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers#