Purchasing a home is among the most important financial and lifestyle moves you will make. You should see as many homes as you need to in order to be confident that you have made THE best possible purchase decision.
Buying a home is a process – one that starts with certain perceptions as to your needs, preferences and price range. Your criteria are refined, organized and prioritized through research, evaluating and comparing. Looking at properties on line and driving neighborhoods are, of course, an important and valuable part of the process; however there is no substitute for getting into homes. Walking through homes provides you with the reference points and perspective you need to understand the market and the best combination of home attributes for your lifestyle at your price point. Every home you visit that is not “the one” simply enhances your perspective and market knowledge, making you a better, more confident, homebuyer.
A “big shot” real estate agent once proudly told me that she tries to not show more than eight homes to any one client before writing an offer – time being money and all. Good for her, but probably not so good for her clients. She views her job as selling her client a house rather than as managing a process that leads her client to the best home for them.
The most valuable asset in a home search and purchase is an experienced agent committed to getting you the best home at the best price (as opposed to “making a sale”). A good agent will efficiently and objectively manage the home search for your benefit. This means walking through (and talking through) ALL of the possibilities, helping you gain knowledge and perspective as you refine your criteria based on what the market has to offer (see our blog post Ya Gotta be Flexible). Because you are buying only one house, the process must be designed to systematically eliminate homes to get you to “the one.” To me, a well-managed home search culminates in what I call the “magic moment” – the point where we walk through a house and we all just know that this is “the one.”
The number of homes you see should be determined by your criteria, budget, timing and up-front knowledge of the market. Of course, the inventory of available homes (including the possibility of “act fast” opportunities) will also come into play, as will how effectively your agent manages the process.