Americans tour 7.4 homes before buying

“The first one I saw and I knew it was the one…” may be a line you would hear in a movie, but it is unlikely how a homeowner would describe his or her home buying experience, and certainly not in 2018.

In this competitive housing market where homebuyers are accustomed to compromises and disappointments, most buyers need to tour over a half dozen homes – often after viewing many more online – before finding the right one, according to latest findings in ValueInsured’s Q2 2018 Modern Homebuyer Survey.

On average, American homeowners report to have toured a total of 7.4 homes before buying the one they currently own. Over 1 in 4 (26%) report to have toured over 10 homes before buying. Baby Boomers report to have toured the most homes, on average 7.8, before finding the right one, followed closely by Gen-Xers who report to have toured 7.7.  It is possible that more seasoned buyers are discriminating in choosing a home that they are willing to buy, or they rely less on online websites to help them prescreen homes before touring.

In some regions, homeowners need to tour more homes before finding one they like or having their offer accepted. California homeowners report to have toured 8.7 homes before buying; in the state of Washington, homeowners toured on average 7.7 homes before buying. 

On the other end of the spectrum, 7.4% of homeowners report to have bought their most recent home sight unseen, without having seen the home in person before making an offer. These homebuyers report to have seen the home only in photos, online or through a representative. Interestingly, one might expect millennials to be more digitally savvy, and more likely to have bought a home sight unseen. However, they report the contrary, as the least likely generational segment to have bought a home recently sight unseen, at only 5.9%. It has been reported that both Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers give Millennials a run for their money for online savvy. It also makes sense that as more experienced buyers, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers would be more confident and willing to buy a home sight unseen. The older segments are also more likely to be investment and second-home buyers, who have a higher propensity to buy without first visiting a property in person. 

One finding in particular stands out: Millennials expect to tour on average 9 homes before buying; however in reality, they tour only 6.4 homes before making an accepted offer. It points to a few likely explanations: some starter-home buyers are not as diligent as they planned to be, or they lose patience when they buy a home; it is also possible that in today’s overheated housing market where, increasingly, Millennials are concerned they could be priced out. Many starter-home buyers are over-eager to make offers when they find a home within their budget, without touring as many homes as they had initially hoped. This is consistent with a latest report that 70% of all Millennial homeowners regret their purchase, which echos a similar report on homebuyer remorse released by ValueInsured earlier.

Given the discrepancy between the amount of homes they plan to tour versus actual number of homes toured before buying, and the high level of remorse experienced by Millennials, it appears they could be buying hastily, which could eventually prove detrimental in a market climate where many are buying at the peak, and where 1 in 3 are tapping into retirement savings in order to afford the home.