This is an actual question I received from one of my first-time home buyers recently.
Q: How long does it normally take for a Buyer to find “The One”? Shouldn’t I see at least 30 houses before I pick one, even if I like House #5 that I’ve seen a lot?
A: I know, you’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately and wondering do buyers really see just 3 homes and pick one? Sometimes. My best advice is if you find a home and it has 90% of the features you are looking for, and you find yourself placing furniture in the home, or figuring out what colors you’d paint, I’d consider making an offer seriously. How would you feel if tomorrow it was “Pending” because someone else put in an offer on it? There are very few 100% homes out there, and the market is picking up. Some of my buyers see under 10 homes and choose one and some need to see a few more. If you’ve been in the market for a home for awhile and are not having any luck, here are a few things to consider:
Know how long is too long. If you’ve been looking for 2 or 3 months seriously (viewing homes in person with a Realtor, pre-approval in hand) and are not finding what you want, you may want to re-evaluate. Is your price range off for what your expectations are? Are you looking for what I call a “100% house” – (hint – there is no such thing). No home will have 100% of what you are looking for – start opening yourself up to 90%+ homes that could work and decide one what features are true needs versus wants, and what you can add or fix later.
Do a Drive-By. I love buyers who do drive-bys. This will save you and your Realtor frustration and instead of looking at 20 houses in a day with your agent, maybe you can see 5 after you’ve done drive-bys. Drive-bys will tell you a lot about a home before you schedule a viewing with your Realtor. How do the surrounding homes look? Do people keep up the neighborhood? Is there an eyesore across the street? You’ll quickly narrow down your list of favorites with a simply drive-by. If you don’t have time to do drive-bys – Google Earth is another great alternative to get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
Ignore the peanut gallery. Mom, dad, friends and acquaintances love to think themselves experts on the real estate market – but the market is ever changing. Ignore those who tell you: People who have not bought a home in your town, your desired neighborhood and your price range at the same moment in time you find yourself house hunting are not authorities on any of the following:
1. How cheap and plentiful the foreclosures and short sales in the market are.
2. How much of a discount you should be able to negotiate.
3. How much is too much for you to pay.
4. How desperate Sellers and/or Banks are to sell their properties.
Even still family members and friends will chime in and offer their own suggestions as “would-be” homeowners, but keep in mind your Realtor does this day in and day out and will be your best source of advice on the matters above.
UPDATE: The first-time home buyers who asked me this question are closing on their new home tomorrow! It was the 5th house I showed them, and they are very excited and know it was the right home to choose, even though we’d only seen a few.