Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Many Houses Should I See Before I Buy?

"How many would you like to see?"  That's snarky.  Let me try again.  "Are you a strong decision maker?"  That's pushy.  Ok, ok, try this "let's plan on looking until we find one you LOVE".  That's sweet. 
The real answer depends so much on you, the buyer.  On the average, I show about 15-20 houses before a buyer pulls the trigger.  But there are several times when I've shown a buyer one house and BOOM, we made an offer and bought a house!  Most buyers, however, are not so decisive or so fast.  I have also shown buyers upwards of 30-40 houses before they were comfortable making an offer but thankfully, this is very rare.  I do love showing qualified buyers houses, but come on.. they all start to run together after awhile.

If your real estate agent listens carefully to you and understands your wants and needs when it comes to finding the perfect property, they should be able to hone down the process for you by weeding out the houses that just don't fit.  They can weed these out by doing online previewing and the old fashioned get-in-the-car-and-drive-around previewing.  It's funny how the house looked so big and beautiful in the online pictures, but when I saw it in person, not so much.  Sounds a lot like online dating, doesn't it??  (I'm not assuming you're necessarily looking for someone big and beautiful to date- but I don't judge).  Seriously, many times there are factors that don't show up online- a freeway or a train track in the back yard, the house sits down in a hole below street level, a meth lab is next door, etc..  So it's great if your agent can take out some of the guess work for you and only show you houses that will be strong possibilities.  If this is the case, it should cut down the number of houses you would see in order to make a decision on which is your best option to buy.  Time is money, folks, and it could save you lots, if you are only seeing the best choices available to you.
The more specific you are to set up your search criteria, the more likely you will find what you're looking for without having to spend every weekend traipsing through dingy houses, with ugly furniture and smelly dogs that you could give a rat's ass about.  You could instead spend that time picking out paint colors for the new nursery or deciding on where to hang your awesome new 60 inch flat screen TV.
I'm not one to make (or encourage others to make) rash decisions.  I always advise buyers take as much time as they need to make a decision on making an offer on a house, but once they've identified a property they're really into, DON'T WAIT.  Especially in today's market!  Did you read my previous articles (part 1 and part 2) on multiple offers???  If not, scroll down.  The really good properties (those gorgeous darlings that look like a magazine spread and are priced just slightly above the most recent comps) are going in just days on the market for asking price or greater.  So when you've seen a few houses (10-15) you should know what your money is going to buy.  And you should be able to ACT NOW if you see one you love. 
When should you start looking for a house??  How long does it take to find a house, negotiate terms and close??  These are very common questions I hear from my dear buyers.  The answer really depends on the situation.  If you have a property to sell, it's usually a good idea to take a few hours with your agent to see what's on the market so that you can become informed before your existing property is under contract.  Then, when your property is under contract, you're armed and ready to go find your dream home.  At that point, you should be able to find a home within a week or two and negotiate the terms of the offer including closing on the new house to coincide with closing on your existing house.  When negotiating closing date on your existing house, try to get a closing date 45-60 days out so that you will have ample time to find a new house and get your loan approved.
If you do not have a property to sell, then when is your lease up?  (I'm assuming you're not homeless or living with your parents or ex-wife).  Check your lease terms to see what kind of notice you have to give.  Can you terminate early?  What is the penalty if you do?  Nowadays, buyers might consider paying a lease termination fee if they happened to stumble on a great house- especially since the rates are FANTASTIC!  But I would advise you to start looking about 45 to 60 days before your lease is up.  
Spring is here!  I'm itching to sell more houses (it could just be allergies).  As always, thank you for reading my wonderful blog.  I just love you for it.


  1. Thanks for sharing your insights about this and There are a lot of blogs and articles out there on this topic, but you have acquired another side of the subject.