Purchasing a New Home Costs More Than Money

The average homebuyer spends three work weeks coming up with their choice
A woman sits in her new home surrounded by boxes

If you’re in the market for a new home, you might want to consider the economic value of your time. In order to pin down the ideal property, the average homebuyer spends the equivalent of three full work weeks to narrow down their choices, a new survey suggests.

For many, a home is their biggest investment, so it makes sense that consumers would want to make sure they don’t make a purchase they will later regret. North American homebuyers check out on average 19 homes before zeroing in on the right choice, according to a survey of 1,854 recent homebuyers in North America by Canadian real estate marketplace Zolo. In order to view that many properties, the typical homebuyer spends an average of 124 hours—more than three 40-hour work weeks—on their search.

While that might seem like a lot of time, consider that viewing one house alone can take up a good portion of a homebuyer’s day. When asked how long they viewed the house they had just bought, 28% said between one and two hours, followed by 24% who said they spent between 46 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, 5% said they spent two to four hours and another 5% spent more than four hours looking at their current house before deciding to buy.

In many cases, this time was spread out among multiple visits. Only 10% of respondents made just one visit to the home they ultimately purchased. Thirty percent made three visits, 23% made two visits, 20% made four visits and 9% made 5 visits.

Younger adults appeared to be more particular about their selection, the survey found, as they tended to view a property more times than older consumers before deciding to move forward with the purchase. In fact, buyers between the ages of 21 and 29 saw a property, on average, three to four times before they made an offer on the house. Comparatively, buyers between the ages of 30 and 39 only needed to see a house twice on average before putting in an offer.

Interestingly, 1% of respondents took a chance and bought a house without ever visiting it, choosing to make their decisions from looking at online listings and photos alone.

The survey also revealed what type of home respondents ended up purchasing: 52% bought a detached single-family home; 8% bought a semi-detached home; 11% ended up with a townhouse; and 8% purchased a condo or apartment. The remaining types of properties purchases were either row-houses (1%), vacation properties (4%) or investment properties (16%).

Since a house is such a major investment, the decision to purchase should not be taken lightly. The first thing you want to do is determine how much you can afford and how much money you’ll need to make the transaction. Then, make a list of the features you want your house to have and prioritize them. You may not be able to find a house that has everything you want, but if you give yourself plenty of time to search, you may pin one down that has most of the features you want while falling within your budget.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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