How many homes do you view before deciding?

Recently I have had a number of clients that are keen, ready and able to buy a new home. Money burning a hole in their pocket (or bank account) and yet they end up not making a decision or deferring the decision. Why? I have a possible reason based on recent experience.

I was contacted by a couple from out of town who had sold their property and want to relocate to Cape Town as soon as possible. They are both self-employed and because of the type of business they conduct, can fairly easily transfer to a new town without too much impact. The funds from their sale will be available in good time for the next purchase and they are 100% committed to the move. Sounds good doesn’t it?

They did their homework on-line and narrowed down the choice of homes they were keen to see, set up appointments with a few estate agents and flew to Cape Town for a weekend to buy a house. All sounding quite logical and organised? A problem came up once they started confirming the viewings and here’s where I suspect things went awry.

Firstly, they had duplicated a few appointments because more than one agent had the same listings and planned to show them those properties. Secondly, they had two days in which to view more than a dozen homes, each in different price brackets, in different locations within a 30 kilometre radius, offering close to what they want, but each one different in some way. The first agent took them to four on the first morning, I showed them four in the afternoon, and on the second morning they saw a few more with another agent. By then they had zoned in on one of the properties that I showed them the previous day, although it seemed that they were not really focused or interested any more. In the end, do you think they could remember much about the first batch they viewed? Not really. They mixed up details and when looking at the brochures they’d been given, were still confused and wanted to start over!

Once they had an idea of the details they could recall, they crossed the definite no’s off the list and then compiled a short-list with mine at the top. However, the pressure became overwhelming and they just couldn’t make a final choice. Result? They ran out of time and ended up flying home without a decision. A week later they were still no closer to making a decision. Granted, they did single out one property, but there were still some niggling doubts and ended up withdrawing from the home search. As of now they have made the move to Cape Town and are renting a house that is not in any of the original locations they had singled out. They are still viewing properties.

This is a very tricky situation and I don’t have the perfect solution. I guess everyone operates differently too, so what works for one person may not for another. What does seem to stand out because it regularly causes delayed/incorrect decisions, is that too many viewings condensed into too short a time is overwhelming, buyers become confused and tend to carry on looking without being able to commit themselves. This can result in buyers that will keep viewing homes for years (yes really) without finding the perfect home! On the other hand, with the current “bubble” and limited choice, it is also easy to find yourself pressured into making a commitment.

A few pointers:

  • Jot down what you want in a home, but make it flexible, otherwise build your ideal home!
  • Don’t view too many at once. Try to do two, or a maximum of three at a time
  • Allow adequate time to view homes if you are in town specifically to find a home
  • If relocating, prioritize finding the right area – don’t buy if you don’t know the area!
  • Compile a short list
  • Go for second and even third viewings of those on the short list
  • Consider renting if you are totally new to town
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