Home Buying

Would you buy a home if it cost you $32,116 per minute to view?

Every week, thousands of home buyers make six-figure purchasing decisions based on an hour or two tour of a property. Here’s how to maximize that time
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Would it surprise you to learn that more than half of home shoppers spent between 46 minutes and two hours viewing a home before buying it? According to a new survey by Zolo.ca, 24% of recent home buyers spent between 46 and 60 minutes in a home before making an offer, while another 28% spent just over an hour to a maximum of two hours in a home before making an offer.

Turns out, these motivated buyers didn’t wait too long before sealing the deal with 71% making an offer within 24 hours — with the most determined, about 13% of the respondents, making an offer within 60 minutes of viewing the home.

If you compare this to the average cost of a home in Canada, it means that home buyers are essentially spending between $4,000 to just over $10,000 per minute when shopping for a home. (If this was an American home buyer, the cost per minute would drop, but buyers would still pay between $989.75 USD and $15,500 USD per minute, based on a national median sale price of $232,500, according to Zillow.)

That’s a lot of money.

Cost Per Minute Breakdown

How was this calculated? Zolo.ca surveyed 1,854 recent home buyers in between mid-February and end of March 2019. Based on these responses, we calculated what it would’ve cost these buyers to buy a property based on the March 2018 HPI Benchmark price of $481,745, calculated through the Canadian Real Estate Association National House Price map.

Based on this, it means that almost one in four Canadian buyers forked out between $8,029 and $10,473 for every minute they spent viewing the property; another 28% of buyers, who spent a bit more time viewing their most recent home purchase, spent between $4,015 and $7,897.

(What’s scary is that 5% of home buyers spent 15 minutes or less in a home before putting in an offer, which means each minute viewing cost them $32,116, based on Canada’s March 2019 benchmark price.)

Most Buyers View a Home More than Once

Turns out buyers didn’t spend all this time viewing the home during just one visit. In fact, only 10% of the 1,854 survey respondents viewed a home just once before putting in an offer, while 23% viewed the home twice, 31% viewed the home three times, and 20% viewed the home four times.

This means that home buyers are making six-figure decisions based on only an hour or two of their time inside the property.

“When the market was moving fast, buyers felt the need to make quick decisions,” explains Mustafa Abbasi, President of Zolo, a national real estate brokerage and the largest national online marketplace.

“Unfortunately, many of these buyers may have neglected due diligence and this can result in expensive repairs and renovation bills to try and fix problems with the home.”

Since buying a property is one of the biggest financial commitments a Canadian can make, it’s vital that we do our homework an get everything in order, explains Abbasi.

“A buyer can certainly move quicker, but still complete their due diligence. For example, buyers can get their financing in order, they can keep separate accounts for closing costs and have their real estate experts, such as home inspectors, ready to go,” says Abbasi.

Abbasi’s advice appears to resonate with most buyers these days. According to respondents, 61% paid for an independent home inspection before closing on their offer.

Younger Buyers Spend More Time

Another interesting trend is that younger buyers spent more time viewing the property before buying. Buyers aged 21 to 29, preferred to see a property three or four times before putting in an offer, while buyers aged 30 to 39 viewed a property, on average, only twice before putting in an offer. (Surprisingly, 1% of respondents bought a home sight unseen — they only saw online pictures — and these buyers were aged of 30 to 39.)

On average, these home buyers viewed 19 homes before putting in an offer and more than half (52%) bought a single-family detached home (8% bought a semi-detached; 11% bought a townhouse and 8% bought a condo-apartment, while the remaining purchase a row-house, cottage/vacation property, or an investment property with multiple units).

Time is Key

Since buying and selling a home isn’t a common, everyday occurrence, we asked recent home buyers what they would do differently next time.

  • Turns out more than a quarter of buyers (28%) would “spend more time during the viewing” the next time they bought a home,
  • 27% of respondents who would “take friends or family to help with the viewing process.”
  • 21% said they would “view more homes” next time
  • 20% would get a home inspection before making an offer
  • 20% would “book more viewings of the home I’m interested in purchasing.”

On the whole, however, buyers spent an average of 124 hours searching for a home – .

How to Maximize Your Time Viewing a Property

“Every week, thousands of home buyers are making six-figure decisions based on an hour or two touring a property,” says Abbasi. “Thankfully, there are tools and strategies for making the most of that time.”

Here is a checklist to help home buyers viewing a home:

  1. Arrive early and do a drive-by
    Never underestimate first impressions and this isn’t limited to the home, itself. What is the neighbourhood like? Does the home have curb appeal? Or does it have the potential for curb appeal?
  2. Be prepared
    Make a list of all the things that are important to you and any questions you want to ask before starting your viewing. Write these down. You’ll be surprised how often people forget their must-needs or need-to-knows as soon as they step into a stunning looking property.
  3. Take a friend
    Never go to a home viewing without your spouse, partner or friend, as well as your Realtor. Extra people mean extra sets of eyes and it enables you to bounce ideas off of someone and get sober-second thoughts.
  4. Check the outside of the property
    Are there any signs of damp like peeling paint or tide marks on the walls? Are there any loose tiles on the roof?
  5. Be nosey
    This is one of the biggest purchases in your life, so be nosey. Open all cupboards, look under the sink and inside closets and even poke your head into basements and attics. To be sure you get a good look at all the nooks and crannies, make sure you bring a flashlight. While at it, plan where you’ll put your furniture, small kitchen appliances, and all other daily living tools. The more you can see yourself fit into a home, the less chance you’ll run into a major snag (like discovering your coffee maker is too tall for the kitchen counters!).
  6. Check the plumbing
    Run the taps — both hot and cold. Check to see how long it takes for the hot water to come up to temperatures. Now how is the water pressure impacted when other taps are turned on. While not definitive, a disruption in water pressure can be a signal of old, plugged pipes or other issues.
  7. Ask about recent renos and upgrades
    Don’t just find out what work has been done as if permits were paid for (and closed), if receipts were kept and photos were taken. Quite often a homeowner won’t have all three, but at least one is a good sign that the homeowner took a responsible approach to home renos.
  8. Check for mold, mildew or damp
    Dampness is annoying, sure, but it can also be an indication of a bigger, far more expensive problem. Signs to look for: peeling paint, stains on the ceiling, steamed up windows. If basements or hardly used rooms have recently been painted, ask why.
  9. Check the building’s structural foundation
    Look for big cracks (hairline cracks are typical and shouldn’t cause worry). Good places to look include around windows, near joists (if visible) and in the basement.
  10. Confirm storage space
    Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen, and boxes of junk? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Since storage can be scarce, make sure you know where you’ll store things.
  11. Visual check of all major components
    While it’s always a good idea to pay for a home inspection, you should also do your own pre-inspection investigation. Look at the roof, the windows, the furnace, and A/C unit. You’re looking for evidence that these major components have been well taken care of, over the years, and that there are no signs of neglect.

Survey Results

The findings of the Zolo Homebuyers’ Survey 2019 are based on an online survey conducted by Zolo.ca in February and March 2019 of 1,854 survey respondents who live in North America. The estimated margin of error is +/- 2.28 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Romana King
Romana King

Romana is an award-winning personal finance writer with an expertise in real estate. She is obsessed with the property marketplace and is the current Director of Content at Zolo.