As a general rule of thumb, home buyers who have clear criteria and priorities need to see ten houses before they are ready to write an offer.  Some may be ready with fewer, say 7 or 8. Some may need a few more showings. On average, per the National Association of Realtors, ten homes is the number that most home buyers need to be ready to write an offer.

Also generally true is that sellers need to have ten showings for one offer.

Ten is almost a magic number for real estate, and it’s a number that can provide a “reality check” on whether a listing is getting enough showings or if a buyer is either seeing enough homes or focusing enough to write on one that fits their stated budget and criteria.


Victorian houses in San Francisco with the word - Ten houses - is what most buyers need to see before buying a home -



House door lock with key - words What is normal - 10 houses over 10 weeksTen houses over ten weeks

The ten houses will usually be seen over several weeks. The Realtor Magazine article, linked at the bottom, says the average home buyer sees the ten houses over ten weeks.

Most buyers who are focused can know enough to write an offer on something at by the 2.5 month mark. In my own experience, if buyers go 4 months or more without writing, it is unlikely that they will be buying a home soon.

Ten houses and writing an offer on something

Every home buyer will want to be reasonably cautious before purchasing a home. On occasion I’ve had clients who wanted to draft a contract on the first house they see with me. In those cases, I ask them to humor me and see a few more just to be sure that they have a solid footing for this choice. It’s too expensive of a decision to make without that baseline experience of seeing at least a few homes, if not a full ten.

Sometimes, though, buyers are enormously cautious and nervous, and they become somewhat paralyzed and are unable to act. Or they have unrealistic expectations of what is achievable and are holding out for that “really good deal” that is unlikely to exist. If you’ve seen dozens of properties but you’re not getting serious about any of them, something is amiss.

A more challenging problem is when buyers cannot rank their priorities but have a long list of #1 priorities.

“Am I being too picky?” is a fair question for a buyer to ask himself or herself. If the answer is not ten houses but twenty or more, then either the wish list is not realistic or something has to change in the requirements to make it viable.

The cost of inaction

When home prices or interest rates are rising, as they are now, being unrealistic is risky as those folks can become priced out of the market.

We sometimes talk about red flags with properties, but there can be red flags with buyers, too. (And there are other red flags with sellers.) Looking at dozens of homes but never getting serious about any of them says that we are not on the right path. Not being serious includes an unwillingness to look at the disclosure package, as that takes time. Committed buyers will spend the time to do the work because it’s an important decision which merits their time and attention.

As a self check, then, if you are seeing ten houses, twenty houses or more and not finding anything that works, it’s good to ask both yourself and your real estate agent:

  • Are the criteria for the home’s location realistic?
  • Are the criteria for the property size, meaning living space and lot size, realistic?
  • Are the requirements for the property condition or remodeling realistic?
  • Are the terms and price sought realistic for the level of competition?
  • Are all of these criteria based on the market today, or the market a few months ago and what was doable in January, for instance? It’s challenging, but important, to understand the trajectory of the market.

Sometimes the type of home that you want exists, but it’s just not in budget in the location you want or need. In that case, you can decide to change the home size (and add on later), change the location (and commute longer or make other adjustments), or perhaps get a townhouse instead of a house so that you keep the square footage desired. One of my Realtor friends said “buyers often can get 2 out of 3 items in their must have list”.

Sellers and ten viewing appointments

Open houses can be a free for all with neighbors, curious people, and real estate agents touring for their own knowledge or information. Some real home buyers do usually come through also, but seldom is it every visitor.

Private showings, though, lean heavily toward real buyers. Those may happen when home buyers are accompanied by their real estate salesperson at an open house, but often they come outside of those hours.

Healthy traffic for a new listing for most homes on the market is 3-5 showings per week – at least at the beginning. Within two to three weeks, there should have been 10 showings unless the home is very unique or very expensive, as in the high luxury market.

If there are 10 showings in that first two to three weeks and there are no offers, what is the feedback? Listing agents or someone on their team usually reach out to the buyer’s agent to see what the input is.

If there are fewer than 10 showings, it’s a bigger problem, and the plan should be reviewed. Is the list price competitive, or is it too high? (That is the most common culprit.) Are the photos or description poor? Is it too hard to see the home? (This can happen when the property is occupied and sellers work from home, if it’s tenant occupied, or other situations with restrictions.)  Is the condition unacceptable? Are there odors? Is the problem fixable? If not, then what’s left, usually, is adjusting the price.


Related reading

How Many Homes Will It Take to Find ‘The One’? (Realtor Magazine stating that ten houses is the average)

Setting priorities (on this site)

Writing an offer (on this site)