Buyers Have Never Viewed Fewer Homes Before Purchasing

real estate agent showing couple interior of home

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Last year, home buyers viewed a median of eight homes before purchasing—the lowest number on record, according to new research from the National Association of REALTORS®. That’s fewer than in 2009 and 2011, when housing inventory was more plentiful and buyers viewed a median of 12 homes before buying, notes Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights.

The more recent limited housing inventory coupled with increased buyer competition likely has played a big role in the fewer homes that house hunters are viewing. NAR reported Thursday that housing inventory reached an all-time low in December.

Buyers viewed homes chart

Technology is also helping home buyers narrow their search online before physically seeing properties, Lautz notes. “Home buyers today have the ability to view homes online and quickly weed out what they want to see versus what can be discarded,” she says. “Buyers can walk through virtual tours, view videos, see detailed photos in a way that 2006 technology did not allow.”

Among the median eight homes viewed by buyers, three were viewed online only with the help of virtual and video tours as well as virtual open houses, according to NAR data.

Buyers may be viewing fewer homes because they’re speeding up their house hunts to better compete. Buyers searched for just eight weeks before deciding on a home to purchase last year, down from more than 12 weeks between 2009 and 2013. “Buyers today do not have that luxury and need to make fast decisions on which home to place an offer on, as there is likely another buyer ready to pounce right behind them,” Lautz says.