Many buyers, though especially first-time buyers, wonder how exactly to go about the home-buying process. Specifically, many wonder how many homes they should look at before deciding on one that is right for them. There isn’t always one simple answer for that question, as it really depends on your needs, the specific market you are looking at, and a bit of luck as well.
In general, it is always a good idea to be familiar with the types of homes available in various areas of your market, and the price ranges they are in. Looking at homes on the internet is a good way to get started on this. While the small pictures and brief descriptions don’t really tell you a lot about a home, they will give you a basic idea of what the type of home you are looking for is selling at. For example, if you are looking for a newer home with three bedrooms in a certain part of town, chances are that prices will be similar for similar product. Variability in price comes with quality, age, size, view and other factors, but looking at homes on the internet can give you an idea of what is available, and what price range that type of home is in. Realize that different parts of town can dramatically affect the price of homes.
If you aren’t as sure of what you want as the example cited above, looking at homes on the internet can be especially valuable in just showing you what is available. In both instances, looking at as many homes as possible is recommended to get the best idea of what the market is like, and to decide what type of home and in what neighborhoods your would prefer buying.
Once you are sure you are ready to buy, and ideally have already been pre-qualified for a mortgage and have a good idea of the price range you are looking at, you will be ready to look at homes in person. Again using the internet as a resource, buyers can narrow down their list of homes they’d like to view. If possible, find out the address of homes you are interested and do a drive-by. Often this is enough to either pique your interest further, or help you know the home isn’t what you’re looking for. Remember, never disturb tenants or homeowners by going onto a property that is for sale without making an appointment with a Realtor first. A drive-by is just that, driving by the home to get a feel for the neighborhood and to see some details about the home and property that might not be obvious in any pictures of it posted online.
How many homes you look at depends, as I stated at the beginning, on what is available, as well as how motivated you are to buy now. If you are in a hurry to buy, and find a suitable home quickly, then you may actually only end up looking at a couple of homes. However, if you are taking your time to find just the right place, then chances are you will view far more homes over a more extended period of time. Remember, it is important to express all your wants and needs to your Realtor. They will help weed out the homes that are most suited to you. While Realtors will be happy to show you any and all homes you are interested in, it is prudent to keep your viewing relevant so as not to waste your or your Realtor’s time.
When deciding how many homes to view in one day, realize that after seeing so many homes, they may all begin to blur into each other in your memory. The maximum number of homes that can be viewed objectively in one day is probably around 10, and even that is a lot. More than that and it may become hard to remember details about some of the homes. Taking notes on each address visited is a good way to compare homes you’ve viewed and keep track of details that are important to you.
Because buying a home is such an important decision, many people are hesitant to take the plunge. But if you find the perfect home for you after viewing just a few homes, don’t be afraid to go ahead and buy it. The real estate market isn’t like the consumer goods market where there are a dozen of the same item in the stock-room. Each home is unique, and another buyer could come along and snap up your dream home if you don’t act. That said, scheduling a second viewing on another day, after you’ve had time to think about the home or homes you think are closest to fitting your needs, is always a good idea.
So when determining how many homes one should view, the only general rule I would give is to view until you find the right home. If you are new to buying real estate, this might take a little longer, or it might not. No one wants to buy an overpriced home, or a home with hidden problems, and many people feel like they need to shop around a bit until they understand the market. Of course, an experienced Realtor can help you avoid these pitfalls. So, in short, if you find a great home very quickly, then buy it and consider yourself lucky. If you are having a hard time finding what you want, keep looking.
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