Buying a house is a big decision. In fact, it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make and that means it’s really important to get the decision right. So, how many times should you view a house before buying it?
It’s a question that would-be buyers often ask themselves. Should you rush in after the first viewing and make an offer before someone else beats you to it? Or, should you bide your time and view the property multiple times to make absolutely sure it’s the one for you?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer, although it’s almost always a good idea to view a property more than once before making an offer.
Typically, people will view houses between 2-4 times before making an offer, but you should view a property as many times as you need to be sure it’s the right one for you.
Reasons To Have Multiple Viewings:
There are obviously a long list of things to check when you’re viewing properties, however, when asking yourself ‘how many times should you view a house?’ it’s worth keeping in mind the following reasons why you may need more than one viewing:
To View The Property At Different Times Of Day
When house hunting you should view a property both during daylight, and when it gets dark.
A house can feel very different at night compared to during the day and your whole opinion on it may change.
At night, a house may feel ominous and less inviting. Our perception of the contrast and spaces between objects is drastically reduced (Goel & Gudgel, 2019; Kaur & Gurnani, 2023).
As your eyes adjust to the lack of natural light, they may lose out on important details such as the sitting room being larger than it is or the wall being a much more sickly shade of green.
Areas that are quiet during the day can come alive at night (and vice versa), properties near schools can have significant parking issues during the morning and afternoon school runs. So, even a casual drive around the area of the property at different times of day can tell you a lot more than you may learn in a single viewing.
To Get A Second Opinion
If you are buying a property alone, then it’s often a good idea to take a close friend or family member with you on at least one of the viewings. They may spot things you did not and can help you to focus on what you really want from a house.
Even if you are buying with someone else, it can still be a good idea to get a ‘third’ opinion from a friend or relative. Ultimately, you’re the ones who have to live there, but that doesn’t mean other people won’t raise valid points.
Plus, there’s a science behind it too. Yaniv (2004) found that individuals who consulted other people gained an increase of 20% in estimation accuracy!
We asked my parents-in-law to come on our third viewing with us. My father-in-law knows a lot about various house related issues, so is the perfect person to take on a house viewing.
He spotted quite a few little things that either needed repairing or that weren’t done properly. Not only did this give us an idea of what we would need to do once we moved in, but also what additional costs we needed to take into account.
It also gave us some points to mention when negotiating for a lower price. In the end, we decided not to put an offer in, because we felt that all the things my father-in-law pointed out, showed that the owners weren’t taking good care of their property.
This worried us, because you don’t know what else you are going to find once you start making it your own. However, if we hadn’t asked my parents-in-law to come to one of the viewings, we might have bought the house and regretted it.
To Measure Up For Furniture
On your first viewing, it’s likely you’ll simply be getting a feel for the overall layout of the property and how it may work for you. However, once you have finished the first viewing, you may start to wonder how your furniture would fit in the property.
For this reason, you may wish to have another viewing to take some measurements, so you can be sure if your sofa really does fit or if your wardrobe blocks a door.
Ultimately it’s easier to replace furniture than it is to buy a house, so you should always buy furniture to fit a property, rather than buying a property to fit your furniture. That said, it’s good to know whether you will incur additional costs replacing furniture that does not fit.
Other Factors To Consider:
If you are up against a hard deadline to buy another property then you may need to act quickly to keep things moving. This can happen if you have a restless buyer for your own property or your mortgage agreement is soon to expire.
In this situation, you may have to put an offer in after just one or two viewings. However, making such a big decision when under time pressures like this is never a good idea.
Inbar et al’s 2011 study, Decision speed and choice regret: When haste feels like waste, supports the idea that rushing these types of huge decisions can result in feelings of regret.
Look at what you can do to reduce the urgency of your situation. Can you move into rented accommodation to ensure you don’t lose your buyer? Can you get a new mortgage agreement to give you more time?
Removing your own purchase ‘deadlines’ will make your house buying process much less stressful and will reduce the chances of you making a mistake.
However, this might not always be possible. When we bought our current home, we only viewed it once before we put an offer in. Our situation just didn’t allow for more time.
The sale of our house was already well under way, when the mortgage company told us that we wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage on the house we initially offered on. This was because the sellers built another bedroom above the garage, which was a non-standard construction and there were signs of subsidence.
So in order to not lose our buyer, we had to act fast. Moving into rented accommodation wasn’t an option, as we had an elderly cat at the time, and we didn’t want her to have to move twice. Also, it’s difficult to get rented accommodation with a pet.
The agent also told us, when we called to make an appointment to view our current home, that another buyer is expected to come for a second viewing. Of course, this meant that we couldn’t hang around for too long.
We fell in love with the house as soon as we saw it. So we were sure that it was the right house. We did also do our best on the first viewing to look out for any issues, which can be difficult.
While it’s far from ideal to only view a property once before making an offer, sometimes you just don’t have a choice, and we are happy to say we don’t regret it. However, we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they absolutely have to.
It does make the whole process even more stressful than it already is.
The Sellers Situation
It’s not uncommon to feel pressured into making an offer by the seller. This could be because they need to move by a certain date to avoid losing their onward purchase, because they need the money from the sale to pay off a debt, or just because they want to move quickly.
They may tell you there are other viewings lined up, other offers on the table, or that they’ll take it off the market if it doesn’t sell by a certain date.
These are called, “hard bargaining tactics” and are designed to force your hand and get you to put in an offer.
If a seller or their agent is putting pressure on you to make an offer, try not to be swayed by it. If you feel like you risk losing the property, remember that you can always make an offer ‘subject to survey’ or ‘subject to another viewing’. This allows you to put your cards on the table but retain a get-out clause.
If the seller is too pushy, consider whether you want to deal with them anyway; don’t be afraid to walk away.
When sellers rely too much on hard tactics, negotiations usually fall through so it’s not an uncommon occurrence (Filzmoser & Vetschera, 2008).
Additionally, being gazumped is also another factor you’ll want to consider.
Sometimes the market will dictate how many times you can view a property before putting in an offer. In fast-moving markets, you may have to decide whether to put an offer in or not within a few hours of your first viewing.
When the market is moving more slowly, then you might have the luxury of being able to have multiple viewings before you make a decision.
In most parts of the UK, an agreement to purchase a property is not legally binding until you have exchanged contracts, which typically happens at the very end of the conveyancing process. That means even after an offer has been accepted, you still have plenty of time to change your mind.
However, in Scotland, things are a little different. The legal agreement happens much earlier in the process. In fact, you are committed to buying a property as soon as your solicitor has agreed a contract with the seller’s solicitor.
Therefore, you can afford to rush into an offer a little more if you are buying in England or Wales, rather than Scotland.
Sometimes, you get a ‘feeling’ about the property as soon as you walk through the door. That feeling that you’ve found your dream home is a rare but important feeling.
If you get this, you may be tempted to rush straight in with an offer. However, whilst you probably don’t need to have lots of viewings, it is still a good idea to view the property at least twice.
This way you can check you still have the same ‘feeling’ about the property and ensure your heart wasn’t over-ruling your head!
Even though we only saw our current home once before making an offer, we did go back a month later for a second viewing. We wanted to be sure that it was still the right house for us.
We also took a tape measure to get an idea of which furniture pieces we could fit into the new house. The ones we decided weren’t going to move with us, we sold, which gave us some extra cash to buy new things for our new home.
So even if you make an offer after the first viewing, for whatever reason, it is definitely worth going to see the house again before the sale is complete.
The Condition Of The Property
The condition of the property will also affect how many times you need to view it before you put in an offer. A house in need of significant renovation will need multiple viewings so you can assess the level, and cost, of the work that needs doing.
You may also want to consider consulting with a qualified chartered surveyor to assess the level of work that’s needed.
A property that’s recently been refurbished will need fewer visits as it will be more about the practicalities of living there.
Get a professional opinion from a local surveyor:
How Many Times Is Too Many?
Put simply, there isn’t such a thing as ‘too many’ when it comes to how many times you should view a property. Whilst it’s true that the longer you take to decide whether to put an offer in, the more chance of someone beating you to it, the most important thing is still that you are 100% sure it’s the house for you.
If this takes 10 or more viewings, then so be it. However, it’s natural that a seller may soon tire of repeated viewings without a forthcoming offer. They may believe you are not serious about buying and refuse to grant further viewings after a while.
Viewing a property 4-5 times is not considered unreasonable, but if you need more than that you may need to justify to the seller why you are not ready to put in an offer. Be honest and up-front about your feelings. If there is something concerning you let them know, they may even be able to help put your mind at rest.
Once you do put in an offer, make sure you appoint a solicitor as soon as possible to show you are serious about the purchase. You can find and compare conveyancing solicitors here.