How many homes do you have to see? How many homes do you want to see?
When it comes to the home buying process, going out and looking at homes is probably the most fun and exciting part for most homebuyers. You get to explore the neighborhoods, check out the amenities, compare kitchens, bathrooms, and closet sizes. If you have children, they get to run around the main level and tell you which bedroom they want. You'll enjoy visually placing your furniture and your 52" television.
All of that is a lot more fun than going over the fine details and language in the sales contract. Certainly more enjoyable than the home inspection or appraisal. And a heck of a lot more fun than filling out your mortgage application and getting your W-2s and paystubs to your lender!
An agent in my office recently told me that she has shown "200 to 300 homes" to some buyers. I stared at her in disbelief thinking that I misheard her. She repeated "I've been working with them for 2 years and have shown them 200-300 homes!" Well, I guess when you've seen that many homes, it can be easy to lose track of a hundred...
So, how many homes do you have to see in your Northern Virginia home search?
While 200 to 300 is an extreme case, what's an appropriate amount of homes? Is 5 or 6 homes enough? Is 100 too many? What about 50 or 60? Or somewhere in between?
My clients often ask me how many homes they'll have to see. That reminds me of something my high school freshman English teacher told us. Students would ask how long an essay would need to be and Mr. Lynch would reply, "When Abraham Lincoln was asked how long a man's legs should be, he replied 'long enough to reach the ground!" Twenty three years later, I'm not sure I know exactly what that means, but I think I've got an idea...
Here's my experience with helping clients find homes in Northern Virginia over the last decade:
One time -- just one time -- I had a client look at just one house, fall in love with it, and buy it. That was pretty cool.
A second time, I had clients look at 2 houses. They liked them both, made an offer on one and bought it. That worked out pretty well too.
I've had clients look at 30 to 40 homes. I've had clients look at 5-10 homes, and just about everywhere in between. I'd say on average my Northern Virginia homebuying clients look at between 10-15 houses in their home search. People who know exactly which neighborhood they desire sometimes look at less, while people relocating to the D.C. area and not familiar with the market often look at more (since they don't know the difference between Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and McLean). However, I've never had anyone look at 200 to 300!
These days with searching for homes on the internet, viewing photos and virtual tours, you can rule out many homes and neighborhoods without physically going there, thus narrowing down the search.
Remember that while visiting homes may be the most fun part of the process, you don't want to do it forever.
The ultimate goal is to find the home that's right for you -- not to see every home that's on the market!
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