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Millions of people visit sites such as® each month, but fewer than 500,000 homes are bought on average in any given month in the U.S.

That means that real buyers—or “serious buyers,” as we call them—are outnumbered by millions of casual lookers, tire kickers, and other prospective buyers (OK, let’s call them “gawkers”) who are a whole lot less likely to buy anytime soon.

 What’s the big difference between the two, and why do you need to know which side you land on?

Well, the more serious you are, the more serious you appear to mortgage lenders, home sellers, and others you’ll encounter during your path to homeownership. And that makes you far more likely to snag that dream home when you finally find it.

So what are the hallmarks of a serious buyer? Here’s what I’ve learned from studying our data:

Serious buyers have been doing their homework

On average, these buyers have spent three to six months considering their needs, getting their financial houses in order, and looking for ideal neighborhoods and homes.

Serious buyers have a definitive time frame in mind

Most of them intend to buy within the year. The journey to buy a home is no simple task; few people want to drag it out indefinitely. Also, the primary trigger for buying is often a calendar-related factor such as a change in the household composition (e.g., a wedding, birth, or adoption), the start of a new job or school, or the end of a lease.

Serious buyers have credit scores and down payments in line

They’re far less likely than others to say that they need to improve their credit score or save for a down payment. As a result, they also are less likely to report having a problem qualifying for a mortgage.

Serious buyers know they qualify for a mortgage

They are three times more likely than an average prospective buyer to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Serious buyers hit open houses and make offers

They are 50% more likely to visit open houses and request information on properties listed online, but the real proof of how serous they are is that they are four times as likely to make offers.

Serious buyers have buyer’s agents

They are five times more likely to be formally represented by a buyer’s agent.

Consumers who are just getting started can turn these attributes of a serious buyer into a template for how to be successful in the journey to homeownership.

Here are a few other tips to make sure the market takes you seriously as a buyer:

  1. Nail your due diligence. Assess your needs while determining what you can afford and ensuring your credit score is in shape.
  2. Be realistic about your time frame and give yourself plenty of time to deal with a tight market. From beginning to end, the journey is likely to last between three and 12 months.
  3. Find an expert local Realtor® to represent you through the journey.
  4. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to pounce.Jonathan Smoke®

About Brian Heafy

After a 30 year career in the information technology/professional services industry Brian began his second career as a real estate professional in 2012. Brian began his career in 1982 with the United States Marine Corps as a systems analyst providing software project management and implementation services to Marine Corps Aviation Logistics Squadrons in Iwakuni, Japan and later as a defense contractor assigned as lead technical program manager to the Navy Management Systems Support Office in San Diego. Brian went on to serve as technology manager for the City of Coral Springs, then joined a publicly traded government (ERP) software and professional services provider in Lake Mary, Florida as VP of the company's Public Safety & Justice Systems group where he and his teams supported over 450 small, medium and large Police, Fire, Courts and EMS agencies across the U.S. and Caribbean. Brian also served in technology management positions supporting commercial off the shelf software enterprise resource management systems finance and administration application software and public safety and justice systems application software projects for the City of Orlando and Orange County Clerk of Courts. Brian's in-depth understanding of governmental operations and contract management is a benefit to his real estate clients, so much of what gets accomplished in today's real estate industry deals with understanding government databases, brokerage disclosures, banking and governmental regulations each with their own set of established procedures - at all levels of government (local, county, state, federal). Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Barry University. A Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker and member of the Greater Orlando Regional Realtors Association, member of the Marine Corps Association and former Web Sergeant for the United States Marine Corps League in Orlando, Florida. A native Floridian Brian and his wife Yoshiko have been married over 32 years and have two grown children.