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House hunting is a lot like speed dating: You have to think quick on your feet and look beyond the superficial qualities if you’re ever going to meet “the One.” The only real difference is that the latter lasts a few minutes while the former typically drags on for months—half of a year, to be exact.  

Better Homes & Gardens released a new study that addresses the purchasing habits and preferences of various generations of home buyers. The report focuses mostly on millennials, but there was one tidbit we came across that applies to all ages. The survey found that 68 percent of recent home buyers completed the process within six months. That number makes the whole thing sound pretty exhausting, but we bear good news: You won’t be on your feet, running from showing to showing, for that entire time. The report goes on to point out that that buyers view an average of nine homes. In other words: It’s totally doable. 

The trick is to get your finances in a row before you even call up a real-estate broker. (Casual window-shopping will only result in time wasted.) If you really want to keep things moving, only tour places that are the right size, if not a little bigger. According to a Trulia report on the most common homeowner regrets, 33 percent of people wish they would have gone with a larger home. On your first tour, take note of the layout. Open-concept living spaces are great for entertaining, but it turns out that houses with formal dining rooms sell for more down the road.

And if you don’t have room in your budget for a big renovation, think hard about style. Despite the Internet’s obsession with shabby-chic farmhouses, those who own Regency-style homes stay put an average of two years longer. No matter how diligent you are, remember: You’ll have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. 

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