A homebuyer chooses and values one home above all the others he sees based on the emotional response he gets when he sees his future in that home.
We’ve all seen this happen: A buyer walks through 20 houses over two months of weekends and evenings commenting on various aspects of the homes and how the rooms don’t quite flow or how their furniture probably won’t fit. They walk into home No. 21, and — boom — within 15 seconds they know it’s the one.
How this happens precludes any truly rational considerations from being the primary factor in the buyer’s purchase decision. Rational decisions take time to quantify: how big are the rooms, how well is the home maintained, and how much the utilities and homeowners association fees cost.
When buyers see the right home, it triggers the future that they are planning in their minds. The qualities of the home allow the buyers to see themselves living out their future in this particular home. This causes them to make an initial decision based on their feelings, and then spend time rationalizing the emotionally driven decision.
After a while their neurons calm down and the fear begins. This process might take hours, days, weeks — or even months, and the buyer has regrets (known as cognitive dissonance – buyer’s remorse). At first there’s a large spike of fear — even panic, driven by wanting to avoid mistakes and the penalties associated with them. After the initial spike of fear a process of rationalization occurs.
At this point the buyer weighs the envisioned future with the fear of making a mistake, and decides to stick with his decision. Indeed, if a cracked foundation or the occasional poltergeist is discovered in the basement, then fear might override his initial decision.
You’re bored now because how does talking about psychological motivations and buyer decision-making concern you?
No one has ever just bought a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Sure, the home the buyers purchased might have had those physical requisites, but that is not why they chose that particular home — neither is the price. Yes, your buyer has a spending limit, but the price is not the reason they chose that home.
Homebuyers want and most value the home with the greatest number of qualities that match the future they envision for themselves. If you are advertising a home based on price or bedroom and bathroom count instead of your buyers’ future needs, you are harming your efforts and the desires of both the buyer and seller. Stop it.
And don’t say everybody already knows all of this, and no one tries to sell a home based on these characteristics. I can forward to you 500 broker-created spam emails about their new listing that show exactly that — price, bed, bath.
When your Internet service provider reopens your email account after that meltdown, I will point you to Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, Homes.com and 2 million broker IDX websites that make homebuyers try to find their perfect home based on those same qualities.
The worst possible way to advertise a home, as mentioned above, is precisely what the entire real estate industry does.
This can be summed up in a series of short questions and poignant answers.
What are websites? They are advertising platforms. What makes a buyer choose and most value a home? The emotional benefits received from visualizing future life events in that home.
What should you be advertising? The home qualities that trigger those buyers’ emotions. What does the industry do? Advertise homes based on price plus bedroom and bathroom counts.
Am I suggesting that brokers change the way they advertise homes? Absolutely.
Am I suggesting the way the entire industry promotes and makes buyers search for a home needs to change? Yes.
The next time you advertise a home on any medium, consider what future events will bring your homebuyer the greatest emotional pleasure relative to your home’s characteristics. Talk about those features first. If your home excites the buyers, they’ll be plenty motivated to research your price and bedroom count.