Homes, Homes Everywhere! How Many Should a Homebuyer SEE?

Real Estate Agent with Boardman Realty Minnesota License#90858

Home for sale signs by Teri Eckholm Realtor

Home buyers often set themselves up for a stressful situation: Too loose of criteria equaling too many homes to see. With foreclosures, short sales and traditional sellers with houses on the market, there are hundreds of homes on the proverbial real estate shelves! As a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities north metro (Forest Lake, Ham Lake, Blaine and Lino Lakes areas), I have had a number of overwhelmed potential buyers approach me with some very loose home selection criteria. Our first conversation might sound a little like this: "Teri, I am willing to go anywhere for a single family home under $250,000. I just need a couple of bedrooms and a garage anywhere between Anoka and Lindstrom. Heck, I would even consider one of those townhomes, if the price was right."

The problem here is that with this type of open-mindedness, homebuyers could have literally dozens of homes available to choose from. While this might sound like a good thing, when faced with a plethora of choices, the amount of homes will be overwhelming to the buyer going it alone.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, the average buyer sees 15 homes before writing an offer on a home. In my experience this is a fairly accurate estimate. Most buyers begin to tire of the whole process after seeing a dozen homes. All of the homes start to look alike and become a jumble in their mind.

As we start to enter a more balanced market, how do you narrow down the list and focus on the best homes for YOU?

  1. Write down what you must have in a home. Need a 3 car garage? WantListingbook logo a gas fireplace and hardwood floors? Can't live without a full finished basement? Would die without central air conditioning? Write down those must haves and weed out the homes that don't fit.
  2. Select a neighborhood, area or school district. If you must be within 10 miles of work or your kids want to be in the same school district, use this parameter to define your search area.
  3. Work with a knowledgeable agent. By working with an experienced agent, my clients are able to get that list of homes down to a manageable level in short order. Although many internet searches have become very detailed, they are still not as detailed as the ones used by licensed agents. The closest public internet home search that will allow you to search like a REALTOR® is Listingbook. But in order to use the Twin Cities version of Listingbook, you must sign up through a licensed agent. This search allows you to set up your very own detailed searches that meet specific wants and needs.

It doesn't cost buyers anything to work with an agent. Our fees are traditionally paid for by the seller. But a REALTOR®'s service can be invaluable by saving the homebuyer time and frustration.

As a case in point, I had a client that was looking for homes in vast area of Anoka County. She originally told me that she wanted to be in Elk River but Wyoming and Stacy in Chisago County would also be considered. She was willing to spend up to $250,000 and do some work on the home. She was needed at least three bedrooms, two baths and a garage but getting a good deal was paramount.

When we set the initial search using a map search, price point and bedrooms alone, she had nearly a hundred homes to choose from. After a first day showing homes, I learned from this client that a master suite was a "must have" and any foreclosure home in severe disrepair was not to be considered. She really didn't want to be anywhere near Elk River or Anoka County. She wanted to be within minutes of Forest Lake and 35 and have a wooded backyard. After re-setting the search and reviewing the homes, I emailed my client 6 single family homes that met her needs. We saw all six for showings. After one day of viewing homes, she was ready to write an offer on one of the homes we saw. It met her needs perfectly!

Had this client chose to go it alone, she would have been overwhelmed, distracted and frustrated running to several homes that she really didn't want to buy. By setting specific criteria and using my expertise as an experienced agent, the number of homes quickly became a manageable amount. The buyer remained focused and was able to define her concept of an ideal home.

So what happens to the homebuyer that feels there are no homes that are meeting all of the required criteria? Remember, no home will ever be 100% perfect. If too many wants are specified, there may not be a home that will ever measure up. If the list of homes available is too short, see if any of the "must haves" are really necessary.

Posted by

Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with Boardman Realty, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tim Ludemann 01/08/2010 09:26 AM
  2. Christopher Webster 01/08/2010 12:50 PM
  3. D B 01/08/2010 11:22 PM
Home Buying
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Noah Levy
Coldwell Banker - Highland Park, IL
Coldwell Banker Highland Park IL


Great post  - I always try to narrow my clients search for them based on their "needs" - they appreciate it and their search is simplified and more enjoyable - especially if they have their little ones in tow.

Jan 08, 2010 10:36 PM #40
Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv
REISA - 317-663-4173 - Indianapolis, IN

Controlling the situation not the buyer is the key to success in today (and any) market. 


Jan 08, 2010 10:38 PM #41
Blatt + Cutino
Keller Williams Coastal Estates - Monterey, CA
Broker-Associate 831/206-8070*Call today*

It seems that even in my smaller market the amount of homes for sale is daunting to buyers. Thanks for the timely post.

Jan 08, 2010 11:51 PM #42
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

This is something that I will share with my clients. My last client I had,I showed him like 43 houses. Even though we put in offers on three different houses and one was a ratified contract that fell apart due to mold and other stuff discovered at home inspection. my client former client felt that I had to show him as many houses as he want as long it was in his price range. My former client also felt that if he wanted to buy a house in another city,then he will do that because it is his money. It didn't help that my former client was inpatient and wanted to see houses over their price range. Plus my former client wanted to see more houses after showing him like 7-8 houses a day. Now you see why this person is a former client.

Thanks for sharing this one Terri. Congrats on the Gold Star. Great post. 

Jan 09, 2010 12:51 AM #43
Robert Hammerstein
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Teri - Yes it is important to make sure your clients know what they want in the first place... Prequaling them is my first step.. Great post Teri Happy New Year

Jan 09, 2010 01:17 AM #44
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


Great points! The needs vs. wants list helps me greatly. When a buyer finds something on the Internet and wants to see it, I can point out it doesn't offer this or that. Usually happens when buyer is over-focused on a "great deal" and not a great home...

Jan 09, 2010 02:13 AM #45
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Urban Nest Real Estate Group - Atlanta, GA
Your Urban Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

Great post!  I always try to sit down with the potential home buyer before we ever get in the car to discuss their wish list.  It sometimes changes over the weeks of house hunting, but for the most part it helps to keep them on track.

Jan 09, 2010 02:36 AM #46
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


It is so important to narrow things down, particularly the desired location. I find that buyers who know where they want to be have much greater and faster success at finding a home.


Jan 09, 2010 04:50 AM #47
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

The internet has been a valuable asset that can cut down the number of homes that you show. Preparing a buyer before they see the first house is the key. If you lose control of the process or never have control. you will drive yourself to the poor house. 

Jan 09, 2010 09:50 AM #48
Wendy Rich-Soto, Realtor/Broker Associate
Keller Williams Realty, LA Harbor - San Pedro, CA
Getting you to your next with a zero failure rate!



Every time it seems differerent.  I had a client who saw a place and was so afraid to buy it.  It was the first home and the first showing!  The first everything!  But soon he realized that it was the first and the best and he quickly wrote an offer and ended up with a gorgeous condo in the area he had dreamed about for $30k under asking!  :-)



Jan 09, 2010 10:32 AM #49
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

I have really only run across one or two buyers who needed to look at more than a dozen or so houses.  Most people are able to narrow down what they REALLY need and want by the 5th house...

Jan 09, 2010 12:30 PM #50
Dianne Bartlett
Brightside Realty, LLC - Austin, TX

Teri:  Great points and good real-life examples.  Thanks for sharing this valuable information for buyers.

Jan 10, 2010 02:14 AM #51
Darrel Cook CRS, GRI, Broker
Darrel Cook Real Estate Service - Jonesboro, AR

Agents need to remember we are in sales. If you have to show someone 50 homes, something is not right. If I read the buyer right while at my desk, Then by the tenth house I have them sold. If I dont then that is when I ask them the question I should have already ask, which is ( If we find the home today, that suits your needs are you willing to decide today) if they wobble, then maybe you need to put them on the B list.......just my o2cent

Jan 10, 2010 03:24 AM #52
Yolanda Hoversten
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties - O'Fallon, IL
Broker - O Fallon, IL Real Estate

It's a cliche' but communication is key in finding the right home for the buyers.  Drilling down to the narrowest set of requirements saves your time and theirs from hopping from house to house for a number of days.  Thank you for another informative blog, Teri!  Have a great 2010!

Jan 10, 2010 11:19 AM #53
Freddie Gonzales
WEM PACIFIC Investments, Inc. - Daly City, CA


Excellent post. More power in 2010.

Jan 10, 2010 01:22 PM #54
Sherry Chastain
Hendersonville, Nashville, Old Hickory, Lebanon Tennessee - Hendersonville, TN
Realtor, Selling Homes, Lake Properties,Luxury Homes,Short Sales

I think the current economy has increased the avg number of homes my buyers want to see. I love the tingly feeling I get when I know they've found the one.

Jan 10, 2010 02:29 PM #55
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for commenting! I really appreciate all of your comments. I read each and every one but with the beginning of the new year I wanted to get out the sales stats for the communities I serve and didn't get back to this as quickly as I would have liked.

Bottomline...It is up to us as agents to educate our buyers as to how to shop for that home...saves time, gas and frustration all the way around!

Jan 13, 2010 01:21 PM #56
Ray Saenz
Exit Realty Laredo - Laredo, TX
Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor

congratz in your featured blog :) what can I say here ? :)  I control my buyers for what they need and this is an Amen !

Jan 13, 2010 03:57 PM #57
Gloria Todor
Century 21 Absolute Realty - Springfield, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Teri, thanks for your post and all the comments from others.  We are dealing with buyers right now that want us to take them around to every listing, which is many.  There are many properties that fit their needs and dreams, but after 2 days of showing almost 20 properties, we have drawn the line.  We have not had this situation before, usually 10-15 houses max and then an offer is placed.  So I am glad to hear other comments about drawing the line.  Thank you.  Gloria

Mar 19, 2010 04:36 AM #58
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Gloria--We all come across those buyers that just cannot make a decision. Sometimes they never do. If you have found several homes that meet their criteria but they still want to look for something better, maybe they just like looking and really don't want to buy. Hopefully by drawing that line you will find out which category these buyers fall into. Good Luck!

Mar 22, 2010 12:27 AM #59
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