How many houses should buyers see in a day?
With words like “competitive” and “inventory crunch” in the news lately, home buyers may be feeling the pressure to look at as many listings as they can. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported it takes an average of 10 weeks for home buyers to find the right home, down from the average of 12 weeks five years ago. While it’s always a good idea to keep your options open, real estate agents caution against viewing too many homes in one day. Overdoing it with home tours may cause you to forget details about specific houses and mix properties up.
Acclaimed real estate columnist, Lew Sichelman, interviewed Realtors and real estate agents around the country to estimate how many homes buyers should see in one day. Most set their daily limit around six to eight homes per day, depending on the market. Some would not go on more than four tours in one day.
Find Out What You Like
Narrow down your search, especially if you’ve already decided on a neighborhood or specific area. Drive around and find homes that you like. If you find the perfect home, and it’s not for sale, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Leverage your Realtor’s network. They may have previously worked with the homeowner or know someone who has and can find out more about the homeowner’s plans, or find a similar home you hadn’t seen yet.
Leverage Online Listings
Real estate databases like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com can help you scout out homes for sale before setting up tours. Most of these databases have detailed information about prospective homes, like number of bathrooms, type of heating and cooling systems, and even the tax history. There is no point in touring a home if you already know it doesn’t check all of your boxes. While online resources are helpful, Realtors have access to a greater library of listings known as the MLS. They might even be able to let you know about homes for sale before they are listing publicly.
Compare and Contrast
When you’re viewing multiple listings in one day, compare each tour to the last one. It might help to make lists of their respective “pros and cons.” Ask yourself, “what does this home have that the previous home does not?” or “what does this home lack that the previous home had?” Treat it like an eye exam. First or second? First or third?
Make the Most of Your Time
Especially if you are moving to a new location, and have limited time to search. Consider splitting the home tours over the course of the weekend and not seeing every listing in one day. Seeing five houses each day for two days, versus ten houses in one day allows you to take longer with each separate listing.
When You Know You Know
The NAR estimates that home buyers tour at least 10 houses before making an offer. This number varies based on the market, how busy it is, and how many homes are for sale. Some lucky home buyers might even know right away. If you think you’ve found the perfect home, don’t wait to make an offer.
The first thing you should do, before touring homes, is get preapproved for mortgage financing. Mortgage preapproval will help you set a budget and narrow down your search.