How many houses should I look at before making an offer? [Video]

November 21, 2018 - 3 min read

Buying a house is a big decision — one you want to get right

When you buy any big-ticket item, you rarely purchase the first thing you see. You have to view a wide variety of options to know two things:

  1. Is this a good value?
  2. Will this work for me?

Buying a home is no different, and, is arguably more important to get right than most other purchases. That’s why it’s important to “build your gut.” Here’s how to do that.

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How do you “build your gut”?

Building your gut requires gathering lots of information on something until you get a gut feeling about it — either a positive or negative one.

Some would call it intuition or even a sixth sense.

In home shopping, that happens by looking at many houses online and in person. Eventually, you get a sense of a home’s value based on location, square footage, amenities, and other factors.

For instance, you might compare the following:

  • House #1: Five miles from work, 1,500 square feet, 2 beds, 1.5 baths
  • House #2: Fifteen miles from work, 2,200 square feet, 3 beds, 2.5 baths

At that point, you decide whether you value a short commute or larger home more.

Looking at homes also helps you build a mental checklist. Want a single-story layout? Want a bathroom attached to the master bedroom? Eventually, you find a home that meets your requirements.

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How many houses should you look at?

There’s no magic number, but technology has allowed home buyers to look at hundreds of homes in a matter of hours.

This is a great way to get foundational knowledge about your market. View as many homes online as you can since it’s ultra-efficient to do so. One hundred or more is not too many.

Your resources are more limited, though, when viewing in person. Don’t annoy your agent by trying to view 20 or 30 homes in a day. That’s information overload, anyway. View three to five homes in a day, and if nothing jumps out, take a breather and start again another time.

Once you view 10-15 homes in person, you probably have a good idea of what’s available in your price range. You have sufficiently “built your gut” and are likely ready to make an offer on the next home that meets your criteria.

One additional note: Don’t get trapped in “analysis paralysis.” You could miss an opportunity by looking at the details too closely. Do you have a good feeling about the home? Trust your gut.

Can you buy a house without viewing it in person?

I suppose you can, but it’s a bad idea.

Remember: Online photos can look really good, even for sub-par homes. Pet smells, needed repairs, and uneven floors are invisible online.

Eventually, you will need to find a real estate agent to physically take you into the home you’re interested in. (The agent will require a pre-approval letter to do so).

You need to get a feel for the space, and that’s hard to do online.

Can I buy the first house I see in person?

You may have viewed hundreds of homes online and that has broadened your knowledge of the market. Now, you feel comfortable buying the first house you view.

It’s entirely possible and not that uncommon in extreme seller’s markets. If you bypass a house, another one may not come up for a while.

But it is a good idea to view at least a couple of homes. The first house often seems perfect until you see a few more. Often, buyers think, “I’m glad I didn’t buy that first one I was thinking about.”

Beware of FOMO (fear of missing out). It can make you buy prematurely when there are better things out there for you.

Get a pre-approval to be ready to view homes

If you’re ready to take the step of viewing homes in person, know that the real estate agent will need to see what you’re qualified to buy before taking you out.

Get a pre-approval — often in a matter of hours — by connecting with our pre-screened lenders, some of the best in the industry.

Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you

Tim Lucas
Authored By: Tim Lucas
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Tim Lucas spent 11 years in the mortgage industry before moving into the world of digital media. He's helped thousands of families buy and refinance real estate at banks and mortgage companies and now continues that mission through industry-leading content. Tim has been featured in national publications such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, MSN, Scotsman Guide, and more.