How Much Shopping Should I Do Before Buying a Home?

by Matty ByloosFebruary 23, 2016

My Mama Told Me… You Better Shop Around


When considering the purchase of a new house, you probably have an ideal home in mind. And you’ll probably find that while some of the houses you’re touring are pretty close to your ideal residence, most are lacking in one way or another.

So should you settle for “pretty close,” or should you hold out for the home of your dreams? In the end, the decision will be up to you, but we have some tips that are designed to help you make the right call when the time comes.
Mixed race couple looking at houses to buy

First, Shop Mortgages

This is an important tip, especially in the hot seller’s markets we’re currently seeing in more desirable urban markets around the country.

When shopping for a mortgage, consider your personal circumstances. Are you planning on staying long-term? Then a 30-year FRM is probably your best choice. If your ten-year plan includes moving to a new city, then you may be better off going with an adjustable rate mortgage with a lengthy fixed-interest period.

And don’t just go with the first mortgage offer that comes your way; your bank or credit union might be the perfect fit for your everyday banking needs, but you might find a better deal elsewhere.

Finally, it’s important to remember that pre-qualification isn’t the same as pre-approval. The former is a well-educated guesstimate; the latter actually gives you the financial backing to commit to purchasing a home when the moment arrives.

Make a List

We know: you’re ready to start shopping for homes, already. But before you do, you should make a list of the features you desire in your next home, and then separate them into wants and needs. Having your priorities in order will help you better determine whether a house truly suits your needs. OK. Let’s get to it.

Call Your Realtor

Some buyers prefer to go it alone, but enlisting the services of a local Realtor with a strong track record and intimate knowledge of the market can help you narrow down your list considerably. They’ll be able to put together a roster of must-see homes that fit your needs, and their insight can give you the inside track on neighborhoods, schools, planned developments, and more.

How Many Homes Should You Look At?

Finally, we’ve come to the big question. Here’s the thing: there’s really no right answer. But here are some things to consider.
Pretty realtor consulting young couple about buying flat

If you find a home that meets all of your needs and quite a few of your wants, then you may want to pull the trigger. Finding the absolute perfect home can be just about impossible, and you may find yourself regretting passing on a home that was quite close to what you were looking for, especially if it ends up being purchased out from under you while you were driving around searching for absolute perfection.

Also, it’s important to be completely honest about your criteria with your agent. They’re not mind readers, so help them narrow the field, and you’ll spend far less time visiting homes that don’t meet your needs.

Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. A tacky kitchen or odd paint choice is easy enough to fix. If you find a home that basically fits the bill but has a mauve toilet or some chintzy wallpaper, maybe you should look past those things and plan on putting in a couple of weekends’ worth of home improvement projects, and changing them yourself.

Go Get ‘Em!

Hopefully these tips have helped you put your house hunt into perspective. Whether you end up holding out for the perfect specimen or compromising just a little, we hope your new home is wonderful!


Homes.com is the place to dream and discover your ideal home! Are you starting to get the itch to look for your first or next home, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! Browse our real estate and lifestyle blog for home buying tips, mortgage guides, DIY ideas, interior design, lifestyle topics, general home inspiration, or just some homes fun. We are sure you can scratch that itch and find all the information and tools you need to help in your home search. Want to start looking at available real estate right now? Head to our home page and check out homes for sale or rent listings all over the country.
Happy house hunting!


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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.