When you're house hunting, you can start feeling like Goldilocks pretty quickly: This one's too small, that one's too big, and that other one has crazy wallpaper—the list of "not quite right" goes on and on.
The average home buyers will visit 10 homes over 10 weeks' time before they find "the one"—that special place that inspires an offer. But that number can vary widely: Some may fall in love with the first place they see, while others feel compelled to check out several dozen.
To prove that the path to homeownership can take some wild turns, we got three home buyers to reveal how many houses it took to find the perfect place. Let their stories inspire you to find your dream home!
Becky Dacona and her husband toured only one house—one!—before buying it. Given they had so few reference points, how did they know there wasn't something better out there?
The secret, says Dacona, was doing a thorough vetting job online.
"In reality we searched for about three years," she says of her digital home-shopping saga. "We would first search the listings and find things in our price range, and that met our requirements. Then we would do extensive research online about the place like the taxes, and check out Google Earth to see how the home was situated in relation to the neighbors. Then, if we still liked what we saw, we'd compile a list and do a drive-by."
At long last, they cruised by a house for sale in Fremont, NY, and they were persuaded to take a look inside.
"This house is the first that inspired us to contact the real estate agent," Dacona says of her current home. "It wasn't an 'aha' moment or anything like that. We did our drive-by, and it really appealed to us. Then we drove by again, and again. Then we realized that we wanted to take that next step and see where it led. And it led to us buying this home."
Take-home lesson: Doing thorough research online can really help you narrow your options—and save you time and effort. Make sure to vet the home and the neighborhood using Google Maps, and use tools such as realtor.com/local to get neighborhood info.
'It took five years and 50 houses'
"I looked at houses for years," admits Steven Eliades. "You name it, I looked at it. There was always something just not right. The yard was too big. The yard was too small. It was too far from town."
It was an exhausting process, but when he saw the quaint yellow Victorian in Philadelphia, Eliades immediately knew it was perfect.
"I knew I wanted a Victorian house that wasn't too big, that had a wraparound porch, that I could drive to the grocery store from in five or 10 minutes," he says of his home since 2002. "And I wanted to be in a community. I wanted to have neighbors!"
He and his wife made an offer on the spot. "We didn't even pull out of the driveway, didn't think about it overnight," he recalls.
Take-home lesson: Sometimes you have to shop around to get a firm handle on what you like—and dislike—and what your market has to offer. So don't think of it as wasted time if it takes a while for the right house to appear; consider it time well spent honing your house hunting skills.
'After 63 houses, we bought a home that wasn't for sale'
After seeing a mind-boggling number of homes in St. Petersburg, FL, Lynne Freda and her husband couldn't find anything they wanted—that is, until their agent realized that the listings were too limited.
"She said to us, 'You seem to be constipated. What will make you move on a house?'" Freda recalls. "She put us in the car and drove us through an area she thought we'd like. All of a sudden, we saw a house that made my husband shout out, 'That one! That house right there!'"
The house wasn't on the market, but the real estate agent said she'd sold the house to the owners and offered to check in to see if they were ready to move on.
"She marched up to their door that night and asked them if they'd ever considered selling," Freda says. "They replied with 'actually, my husband just got a new job and we are thinking about moving!' So the next day, we went inside to take a look."
Freda's husband was sold on the exterior and the location, and Freda loved the floor plan.
"What sold me is the wife had iris wallpaper in the bathroom, my favorite flower! It clicked for us," Freda says. "There was room in the back for a pool, with a fence already up, and it had a huge Florida room in the back. We agreed to buy it even without knowing the price."
Take-home lesson: If you spot your dream house, but it isn't for sale, it never hurts to ask.
"Don't settle for something close," says Freda, who is now a real estate agent. "The right one will come about!"