Buy Alexandria Real Estate: How Many Homes Do You Have to See?

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

How Many Homes Do You Have to See?

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.


Mortgage ApplicationAll 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? 

How Many Homes?

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?

Abraham LincolnMy 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.




Home Search on the internetI'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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Comment balloon 44 commentsBrian Block • September 16 2010 09:26PM


Brian, hats off to the gal that's hung on for 200-300 showings.  When the market's tough you have to adapt.

In a perfect world, 5-8 showings should be enough.

Posted by Larry Bergstrom, CNE, CRS, GRI (Crescent Realty, Inc. Spanaway, WA. ) over 7 years ago

Reminds me the saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 7 years ago

That's a lot of houses. It sounds like they were not ready to buy just yet or she was not listening to their needs.

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I think that the average buyer looks online at that many houses, but in person?  I think that my average buyer will look at between 15-25 homes that exactly meet their criteria.  That seems to be enough for them to feel like they saw enough to make the best decision without compromising on the things that they really want! 

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS) over 7 years ago

Brian - I'm LMAO because I just blogged about this too.  As a mortgage gal, I don't show homes but so many of my borrowers have a hard time getting into escrow (that's a whole other post) but most of my clients spend months (3-9mon) seeing homes. 

I've never worked with anyone for years who looked at 200-300 properties but I have had borrowers who probably have seen 100 homes over a few months and have probably written 10-12 offers and have had all of them rejected (these aren't ridiculous lowball offers either - another whole other post).

There are so many reasons why this is happening and one of the primary reasons is that the competition in my market is extremely fierce, especially with the lower price range (200k-400k) where my clients are.  Anyway, great post and I think how many properties a Realtor or agents shows a buyer is based on the market.

Posted by Donne Knudsen, CalState Realty Services (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA) over 7 years ago

Every buyer is different in my world.  I thought 75 was a lot but not those high numbers.  I have had buyers take up to 3 years to pull the trigger or they want to put in ridiculous offers.

Posted by Pat Laracy Baker, Realtor, Green, ABR, Holliston, Massachusetts (Realty Executives Boston West) over 7 years ago

What you arre suggesting is a nightmarish amount of homes to view.  How could anybody remember 100 or more homes they've viewed.  Recently I showed a home to a prospective buyer.  He told me he liked the home I was showing him and that he had seen alot of homes, 25.  I thought, YES 25 are alot of homes.

5 seems like a good number to view.  If you help the prospective buyer to do his/her homework by sending them a variety of listings with lots of photos-to view.  And the Realtor does a good job answering questions, then who needs more than 5 to make a decision?!!?

Marsha Montoya Mayer-Realtor

Paradise Properties of Florida

Posted by Marsha Montoya Mayer (Paradise Properties of Florida, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Early in my career, I worked in the office of a legendary top producer in my area.  I'll never forget how she would line up 3- 5 homes to show buyers, and come back with them ready to write on one.  That inspired me and I always strived to make it easy for people to make a decision, as she did, although I've rarely been THAT successful.  I can't help wondering how she would do in today's market, with buyers having access to all the listings online.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 7 years ago

If they make 200 - 300 offers and ratify them, have that agent call me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I think we should qualify our buyers emotionally.  Find out their wants and need, have a list of their top 5.  If you are showing homes that match these needs and they are not ready to make an offer, then it is time to re evaluate those wants and needs. 200-300, going on for 2 years is a waste of time.

Posted by Richard Weeks, REALTOR®, Broker over 7 years ago

I used to average seven to ten but stats are way up with inventory way up.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 7 years ago

Question: How many houses do you show to a client?

Answer: According to HGTV, exactly 3...every time.

Posted by Pat & Wayne Harriman, Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate (Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499) over 7 years ago

Hi Brian!  Good post--that's a lot of homes to see.  My record is 130 homes and we did it over 6 months or so, and it did turn out good with them buying a nice house.

Good luck in Northern VA.  I used to live in Centreville as a kid.



Posted by Mario Jannatpour, Author of the Book, "The Honest Real Estate Agent" (RE/MAX Alliance in Louisville, Colorado) over 7 years ago

For someone who is new to an area, about 8-20 homes should be a good number to give them a feeling for the neighborhoods. 2-300 is waaaay too many under any circumstances.

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) over 7 years ago

Just had a buyer buy the first house he saw!  I sold his last house and knew this one would be perfect for him. Thankfully, he agreed and put an offer in.  We close Oct 29th!

Posted by Wendy Hayden, Chesterfield, Richmond & Powahatan (Photographer, Home Stager, ePRO) over 7 years ago

I blame a lot on the buyers agent...sometimes they will call me to say they will be late for their appointment on my listing because "I am showing them 10 houses today"...why in the world would you want to schedule 10 appointments in one day? They will forget what you showed them at the end of the day....I schedule around 4 max....that way they can go home and take in all what they saw...we can go out again another day and look at 4 more....

 Now, about how many total....if I find you 15 homes that fit the bulk of your wants and desires and if you can not come to a descision, maybe you are not ready to purchase a home...there are a lot of "tire kickers" out there..

Posted by Darryl Brasseur (Brasseur Realty) over 7 years ago

A great local post if I've ever read one.  Nice work here, Brian. 

And Block, not that it means crap, but I'm pretty sure I'd endorse you more days of the week than you'd be willing to spend time on and in the Biz.  Trust, perceived or real, is pretty cool with me.  And you are pretty cool.

Very good post, that's all.

Posted by Jason Sardi over 7 years ago

Good grief! 2-300!! I think my record was probably close to 100 ... but these guys were just flat out not ready to buy. Although they would've argued hotly with me about that. And they were not willing to do any homework on their own. Typically I strongly suggest that buyers drive by some of the homes that look intriguing to them, primarily because it's amazing how many they dismiss based on neighborhood or the way the house sits on a lot, or whatever. Personally I think a buyer that's not willing to participate even a little bit is probably a tire kicker. I usually shoot for around 30 or so as a maximum. It takes a while for folks to figure out what their $$ will buy so that they're comfortable with the number they want to offer.

Posted by Gabrielle Nemes, 206.300.8421, S King & Pierce County RE Advocate (RE/MAX Select R.E.) over 7 years ago

I think if you get into showing 100's of homes to one client and they can't make a decision they aren't serious at all.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty,Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes - (Lizette Realty - Lexington KY - Richmond KY) over 7 years ago

2-300 over TWO years?  Sounds like they have bigger issues than not finding the right home.  UGH!

I work with mainly can be a daunting task at times.  On average, I'd say 20.  Buyers in general right now are insisting on looking at more homes.  I think part of it is becoming comfortable with the market.  

Posted by Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, Huntsville AL MLS (Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group)) over 7 years ago

I have dropped Buyers who could not make up their mind after seeing 20 or so houses.  Sure, they bought a house a year or two later, but the ROI was not there.

Today, a Buyer can cruise through scores of houses online, either at home, or sitting with me.

I will typically schedule 7 or 8 houses on the first ride, depending on the Buyer.   If nothing clicks, we will take another shot at it, maybe another part of town.  After that second trip with no results, it's a come to Jesus meeting and maybe we go one final time.  Then, perhaps I can refer them to another Agent for a fee. In any case, I am done.

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 7 years ago

How can someone really put a number on it? So many things to take into consideration. I remember what I was like when I bought my first house. According to some of these responses....I would have been dropped as a client. :(

Posted by Julia Hull, Realtor Modesto, California (California Real Estate Mart, Inc.) over 7 years ago

I would say that my average is about 12 to 15 homes.  If I am working with a buyer in an area with a lot of inventory, they often want to see more, and the reverse is true if the buyer is focused on one or two small neighborhoods.

** Have to admit that I once showed a client almost 100 homes.  I sold their home, so I knew they had to buy something AND the price point was right, so it was worth hanging in there -- and trying to hang on to my sanity!

Posted by Kerry Lucasse, Your Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant (eXp Realty - Nest Atlanta Team) over 7 years ago

THat takes tire kicking to a whole new level - ditto enabling behavior.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 7 years ago

200-300 over two years!?  This poor agent is being used.  I'd say most of my clients see less than 10.   Some see up to 20 if they are looking for something very specific or not sure which area they want.   I wish it were always as simple as Househunters where they see 3 and write on one.   Rarely goes that way, but I've had a few only look at one or two and write. 

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 7 years ago

Brian, I am confident that 200-300 is waaaaay too may! I think the number depends on a buyers motivation, geographic parameters, familiarity to an area, price range and timing. Some buyers come to us ready to buy after seeing tons of houses on open house sundays and some have not stepped foot in a single house. It just depends where your buyer is in the process. This year we showed buyers a home before it went on the market. It was exactly what they were looking for and they bought it over asking $$$. There were 4 backup offers because the house was such a great buy! 


Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I think every person who wishes to buy a house take a lot of time to properly analyse the situation as it is there life time investment. Taking too long to take desicion in connection of purchase may be because of the decision they need to take for purchase.

Posted by Newport Realty over 7 years ago


I always do my best to shorten the list of homes that we are going to look at together by previewing them and taking videos and photos ahead of time.  Particularly with relocation buyers. It serves no one to look at too many homes and there are not really that many serious candidates for any one buyer.

I don't think I have ever shown anyone more than twenty houses. 


Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) over 7 years ago

Buyers have many choices.  When showing I usually schedule 6-10 homes, so all the homes fitting the buyer's criteria in an area are included.  I am the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.

Posted by Linda Metallo DiBenardo (Re/max Impact, Lockport, Illinois) over 7 years ago


We email all active homes that fit their needs then use a very refined method of eliminating ones that won't work. We wind up with a list of 10 that fit, we then go see the top 3-5, and once we have shown ten we need to re-evaluate the search criteria because its not working...


Posted by Brent & Deb Wells, Prosper TX (LivingWell Properties) over 7 years ago

I enjoy looking at homes too but I usally show between 7 to 20. Its good to keep a pulse on the market for other buyers.


Posted by Debbie Bell, Vero Beach Real Estate (Norris and Company) over 7 years ago

I have had several instances where a client sees one home and buys it. Several times where they buy a home they only saw online via pictures (another one of these closes Monday).

I enjoy looking at homes with clients, but there does come a limit. When we are just looking at the same things over and over and over with a new address it does get tiresome. Typically after looking at a dozen or so homes a buyer has seen most of the flavors available in a given market.

I would never continue to show 200 to 300 homes to a client over the span of 2 years. Yes we are in this business to help people, but there comes a point where we have to remember it IS a business and showing 200 homes to one client for one purchase is a loss even if they eventually buy.

Posted by Bruce Swedal, Denver Real Estate over 7 years ago

In my immediate area, the vast majority of the market is bargain priced REOs and short sales, and the best ones are under contract within days. In the time it would take to tour 300 of these homes, about a month if you did it everyday, 250 of them would be under contract! Makes no sense whatsoever to anyone involved!

Posted by Dan Cronin over 7 years ago

I've not had 200-300 homes either!  Maybe online looking at the properties with our system I set up for them...but not ever that many.

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Century 21 Liberty Homes) over 7 years ago

If they've looked at 200+ homes in any market, they're not buyers, they're brick-kickers.

I've gone over 30 homes, and it's been 50-50 -- half the time we found something, the other half one of us realized the buyer(s) were not ready, or we were a bad fit.

Posted by Mark Ruda (Mark A Ruda) over 7 years ago

At what point would a home buyer either become a close personal friend or someone you never want lay eyes on again?  I'd say at about the 3 month mark and/or having seen more than 60-70 homes.  Honestly, if someone can't choose by that time, they or either not serious and just playing games or they are AT LEAST mildly neurotic.  OR, the agent is showing them things that are not meeting their needs, and if that's the case, why wouldn't they choose another agent?!


Posted by Kate McQueen, REALTOR®, Tailored service for your real estate needs! (Realty ONE Group-Lone Star) over 7 years ago

Well as you pointed out there is no magic answer as to the number of homes someone needs to see. I had a client I closed earlier thois year that I worked with for 2 years. We did not see 200 homes but several ( I ahve no idea) and most of these were dumps. The dumps actually help to educated both my byer and I as to what you get in Katy TX for less than $130K. Sometimes agents actually have to fire clients as the client will never buy a home but looking has become a hobby...

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 7 years ago

Every buyer is different, although if the buyer has seen 200-300 homes and have not yet make a decision, it will probably take them 200-300 years to decide.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 7 years ago

You never know how many it takes. Everyone's different!


Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

I have had buyers look at 1-2 houses and pull the trigger. And I worked with one couple for 5 years. It's different for each.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 7 years ago

I have more than one set of clients I have worked with for over two years, so the number of showings is going to be high.  When you spread them out over a couple of years, 200 - 300 is actually a small number, as 300 houses over a two year period is only 12.5 houses a month.  I generally show 3 to 6 houses for every tour, and we would go out more than two times a month.

Mind you, there were offers that did not fly in the mix. As a result, I saw every house that has closed, or not, in the last 2 years. I have personally seen the inside, outside, good bad and ugly of most of the listings in my area. I think clients like these are great for touring around and learning the inventory, not to mention the experience with negotiating with other agents and writing offers that have no mistakes in them.  Any "A" list activity, showings, writing offers, landing well priced listings, ect.....that is what I want to be doing.  This was a great post, I hope you have many successful showings, OK, maybe not TOO many! Here's hoping for that "Hole in One!"

Posted by Barbara Le Pine, Your agent for the Central Oregon Coast! (Advantage Real Estate, serving Lincoln County) over 7 years ago

I had a client that looked for 5 years, I really got to know them quite well and they bought a house from me and I sold their house.  They have referred at least one or two clients per year for the past 15 years and bought and sold 3 other properties personally through me.  Guess it does not matter how many homes you show, take the time to build rapport with the person, this is a long term referral business.

Posted by Mary Macy, Top Agents Atlanta Metro (Top Agents Atlanta Metro) over 7 years ago

I don't have the time to show 200 to 300 houses.  Using that much of my time for one client would be unfair to my more motivated and serious buyers.

Posted by Dan Quinn, Dan Quinn (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty) over 7 years ago

Well...serious shoppers know what they want, and that usually narrows the field to about 7-10 homes max...I sometimes show more as the more a buyer looks...they may change their "must-have" list.  200-300 sounds more like a taxi driver to me!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) almost 6 years ago