It’s Time to Start Shopping for Houses! How Long Should a House Showing Take?

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Your preapproval is all wrapped up, your down payment is in the bank, your budget is set — you’re ready to start shopping for homes! This is one of the most exciting parts of the homebuying process, but if you haven’t done it before, planning might be a bit of a struggle. Fifty-six percent of all buyers believe that the most challenging step in the homebuying process is actually picking the house. This is likely why the average buyer tours 10 homes in 10 weeks before making a purchase. But with so many houses to look at, how long should a house showing take?

While most real estate agents would probably tell you that it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to view a house, there are many different variables that can impact how long a showing may take.

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1. Whether you are shopping alone

A big factor in how long it will take to see a home is whether or not you are looking by yourself. In 2019, single shoppers made up 26% of all homebuyers. If you are looking for houses on your own, you are able to move through the showing at your own pace. But be sure to ask key questions.

Conversely, if you are looking to purchase a house with a partner, it is likely that the showing will take longer. Although there are benefits to having someone else with you for a showing (Think: more beneficial questions asked), two people with two sets of questions and concerns will require more answers and more time.

2. The state of the market

Another factor that could impact how long viewing a property will take is the current state of the housing market.

If you are in a buyer’s market, there will be many more houses available for sale, which means that you will have more options from which to choose and may therefore spend less time on each one since you have more places to see. But if you are in a seller’s market, the opposite is often true; You will have fewer options to look at, so you may take your time when looking at each one.

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3. The number of times you are seeing the house

The length of time that a house showing takes will also depend upon how many times you plan on viewing the property. Seasoned real estate agent Chris Peaks, who has almost two decades of experience selling houses, suggests that you come back to the home if you feel that you need more time.

He tells his clients that regardless of whether or not they like the house, they always have the option to come back to it after they finish looking at the others. That way they can “spend a lot more time looking at it” and aren’t pressured to make a quick decision on the spot.

Since this is one of the biggest purchases that you may ever make, it is often a good idea to tour the home at least twice, though it may also be a good idea to spend time at the house during different hours of both the day and night. This will help you obtain a bigger picture regarding what life would be like in that house.

On the second visit to the property, it may be a good idea to take measurements and make further assessments about the place and whether it’ll suit your needs.

4. Potential issues with the property

Seeing the house in person may alert you to potential issues with the home. And if you are aware of obvious problems with the property during a showing, it could impact how much time you will spend looking at it.

Some obvious problems are clear dealbreakers for buyers, while others are fixable. If the issue is a dealbreaker, viewing the home will likely take less time — especially if you discover the issue toward the beginning of the showing. This is another reason why it is good to look at the house during the day as well as at night; you could end up finding an issue that wasn’t obvious before.

Peaks also shares that there are issues commonly only found during an inspection of the home after you have made an offer. He says that these issues often include missing installation and missing flashing, although certain additional issues are more commonly found in certain geographical locations than others. For instance, “[In Tennessee] we have a lot of rain,” says Peaks, so gutters are really important.

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5. How you feel about the house

Peaks suggests taking notes about each house that you visit in order to remember what you like and dislike about it. Additionally, he regularly asks clients “to rate the homes themselves as an ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C’” in order to help determine which ones they like best.

Upon viewing a house, there are a few different feelings you may have.

You know that it is not a fit

Most buyers are able to tell pretty quickly upon looking at a home whether the property would not work for them at all. These buyers may spend just 5 to 10 minutes inside the house because they don’t want to waste their time.

In much the same way that it is good to be cognizant of the time that an agent is spending to help you, it is also important that you do not waste their time either.

Peaks once had a client who “walked in 15 feet, looked around, and he said ‘This isn’t it,’ and he walked straight out the door.” He says that agents generally appreciate it if you are upfront and tell them immediately if you know that a property will not work for you.

“I always tell them to tell me — tell the Realtor — tell me what you think of the house…. I don’t live in any of these homes so you will not hurt my feelings.”

Sharing what you like (if anything) and dislike about the house can help your agent better understand what it is that you are looking for.

It may or may not be a fit — you’re not sure yet

Sometimes it’s unclear whether or not a house is the right fit for you. When you are undecided, you will likely want to spend more time looking at it.

Many agents often suggest that buyers plan to spend 15 to 30 minutes in each house so as to give you an opportunity to take a good look at everything, walk through each room, look at the amount of storage that the house has to offer, and check out all of the major systems.

If you find that you are unsure about a lot of houses you see, it can be very helpful to create a house-hunting checklist in an attempt to look at things a bit more objectively.

It’s everything you’ve been looking for, and then some

They say that when you know, you know. Sometimes all it takes is one look at a property and you know that it’s your dream home. In these cases, many buyers wish to linger a bit longer to really soak in everything that they love.

Individuals who fall in love with a house can spend a varying amount of time looking at a house. Some buyers will walk through a house quickly before making an offer immediately, while others may spend an hour at a showing and then take a week to make an offer. If you fall in love with a house but are rushed for time, you can always ask the agent to set up a second visit.

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So what does this mean?

While many people will spend 15 to 20 minutes looking at a house, the length of each house showing simply depends upon the buyer and the house. Each buyer is different.

Depending upon the specific circumstances of each viewing, more or less time may be necessary in order to determine your feelings on a property. The length of time that a house showing should take rests on how long it takes you — the buyer – to:

  • Figure out which category your feelings fall into
  • Get your questions answered
  • Walk through the property
  • Check out the house’s storage options
  • Look for potential issues with the property

At the end of the day, a house showing is a very personal experience, one that is going to be different for every buyer. You are the one making a large purchase, and you are the one who needs to decide what is best for you — so remember to relax, have fun, and take all the time you need.

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