Today's Homebuying Dilemma--200+Homes! How Many Does a Buyer See?

By
Real Estate Agent with REMAX Results Minnesota License#90858

HousesHome buyers across the U.S. are in facing a stressing situation-Too many homes to choose from and it is overwhelming. With foreclosures, short sales and traditional sellers that need to sell homes due to relocation or family changes, 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 clients approach me with some very loose home selection criteria. Our first conversation, might sound something 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 have literally hundreds of homes available to choose from. While this might sound like a good thing, when faced with hundreds of choices, the amount of homes is 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 a buyer's market, with vast options, how do you narrow down the list and focus on the best homes?

  1. Write down what you must have in a home. Need a 3 car garage? Want a gas fireplace? Can't live without hardwood floors? 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 5 miles of worklistingbook or your kids want to be in the same school district, use this to define your search area.
  3. Work with an 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. He started out by saying he wanted to be within 15-20 miles of his work in Blaine but somewhat close to downtown Minneapolis and the airport. He was willing to spend up to $200,000 and do some work on the home. He was okay with any home size of at least two bedrooms and one bath as long as it had a two car garage.

When we set his initial search using a map search, price point and garage size alone, he had well over 300 homes to choose from. After a first day showing four homes, I learned from this client that hardwood floors were a "must have" and any foreclosure home in severe disrepair was not to be considered. He really wanted to be in Blaine or Lino Lakes and have a bit of a backyard. After re-setting the search and reviewing the homes, I emailed my client 27 single family homes that met his needs. He chose ten for showings. After one day of viewing homes, we had the list pared down to four homes for second showings and possible offers.

Had this client chose to go it alone, he would have been overwhelmed, distracted and frustrated running to several homes that he 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 his 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? The beauty of abundant real estate inventory is that buyers have an opportunity to key in on more of their wants and needs for their dream home. 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.

If you are buying or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet, Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I 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.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

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Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with RE/MAX Results, 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.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

 

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
910,468
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

There is no question that a good Realtor that knows the inventory well can save a buyer quite a bit of time.

Feb 28, 2009 08:08 PM #1
Rainmaker
640,198
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

TERI, I get those pie in the sky request ever once in a while.  There is no way I am setting someone up for a search for 200 homes.  I personally think the perfect search has 25 to 40 homes; when it gets more than that they just get overwhelmed.  I often email them back and request additional information.  That's what our job is all about, that additional information!

Feb 28, 2009 10:51 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,506,303
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Authentic Feng Shui Expert

Teri, I'm surprised people are not more exact in what they're looking for.  It would be impossible to show that many homes, I think having them list the criteria that is essential will help to narrow this down considerably.

Feb 28, 2009 11:36 PM #3
Rainmaker
244,601
Troy Erickson
Diverse Solutions Realty www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Teri, nice article.  It is a bit overwhelming for buyers, so anything we as agents can do to help them narrow their search is very helpful.

Feb 28, 2009 11:56 PM #4
Rainmaker
573,927
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

It can be overwhelming to the buyers my experience here is so similar sounds like we are working the same market.

Mar 01, 2009 06:30 AM #5
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Bill--It is not just knowing the inventory...It is knowing how to read the buyer and ask the questions to determine if they really are willing to settle for a two car garage when they say they prefer three. Or if they really mean that a home without a three car garage won't even be considered. Drawing out those deal breaker criteria can save tons of time!

Mar 01, 2009 09:06 AM #6
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Marchel--I absolutely agree. Initial searches that come up with hundreds of homes mean that the buyer needs to focus. That's where we come in and ask the questions. The actual set search in the computer usually will yield 2-3 dozen homes for a buyer to review after a bit of discussion.

Mar 01, 2009 09:09 AM #7
Ambassador
896,481
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Teri, this is excellent advice.

We tell folks to look at our site until they have THEIR TOP TEN picked out.

We show 10 then they pick top 3 we go back.

We do any research they need on those.

Then they write an offer.

There is no point in looking at more than that IF they pick out the 10 best in their mind.

It works!

Mar 01, 2009 09:10 AM #8
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Carole--I think that most people do know what they want. They just don't always know how to describe it. Sometimes they think by keeping all their options open, they won't miss a great deal. But who cares if there is a great deal on one bedroom condos in an hour outside of the city if you want a single family home near the airport? It is not a good deal if it is not the right place for you and your family.

Mar 01, 2009 09:12 AM #9
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Troy--I agree. Many buyers stay on the fence because they are so overwhelmed by choices and don't know how to bring down the amount to a manageable level. That is where our expertise comes in. We know how to help define the dream home so that the buyer better understands what they are looking for. When the number of options is reduced, making a decision is sooo much easier. :) 

Mar 01, 2009 09:15 AM #10
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Terry--I agree...There are many similarities in our markets. Especially when you factor in that Forest Lake/Forest Hills Rangers thing that is going on! :)

Mar 01, 2009 09:19 AM #11
Rainmaker
605,509
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Results - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Missy--One of the biggest assets a buyer can have is a buyer's representative or agent to help them bring down that number to a manageable level. When a buyer is struggling to bring down the number, I often suggest driving by a few homes as it can be the deciding factor if a buyer has a huge range of areas they want to live in. When they do the actually drive to work and realize that it will take 60 mins one way without snow, sometimes they opt for neighborhoods a bit closer to work. Or they decide the houses are too close together. Or they don't like there are no trees in the neighborhood...or too many. Then the options drop considerably. Showing 10-12 is a perfect number when all the "close but no cigar" homes are eliminated.

Mar 01, 2009 09:25 AM #12
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Rainmaker
605,509

Teri Eckholm

Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul
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