How to Advertise a Home

emotions_in_homebuyingHow to Advertise a Home

A home buyer chooses and values one home above all the others they see based on the emotional benefits received from envisioned future life events as triggered by the qualities of a 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, stating how the rooms don’t quite flow, or how their furniture probably won’t fit.  Then boom, they walk into the 21st home and within fifteen seconds they know it’s the one.

How this happens pretty much precludes any truly rational considerations from being the major factor of 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 HOA fees are.

The initial decision is fully emotionally driven, based on envisioned life events as triggered by the qualities of the home.  The buyer envisions these events and immediately receives the emotional benefits of occasions yet to come.  A decision is made.  They then spend time rationalizing their emotionally driven decision.

It’s an emotionally driven decision first, then the rationalized process second.

After a while their neurons, emotionally charged with the positive effects of envisioned future life events, calm down and fear kicks in.  This process may take hours, days, weeks–or even months, and our buyer has regrets (known as cognitive dissonance—buyer’s remorse).  At first there’s a large spike of emotionally driven 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.

If the emotional benefits of the envisioned life events are more powerful than the fear of a potential mistake, the buyer sticks with their initial decision.  Certainly if a cracked foundation or the occasional poltergeist is discovered in the basement then fear may override their initial decision.

You’re bored, how does talk about psychological motivations and buyer decision making concern advertising a home?

No one has ever bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home.  Sure, the home the buyers purchased may have had those physical requisites, but that is not why they chose that home over all of the others, and neither is the price.  Yes, your buyer has an upper limit on what they can afford, but the price is not the reason they chose one home over all of the others.

Home buyers choose and most value the home with the greatest number of qualities causing them to receive the most positive emotional rewards from envisioned future life events.  If you are advertising a home based on price or bedroom count or bathroom count instead of these emotional triggers you are harming your own efforts, the desires of home buyers, and the needs of your home seller.  Stop it.

And don’t say everybody already knows all of this and never tries to sell a home based on these characteristics.  I can forward to you today 500 broker created spam-mails I’ve received about their new listing doing exactly that—price, bed, bath.  After your ISP reopens your email account after that meltdown I will point you to Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, Homes, and 2 million broker IDX websites that make home buyers try to find their perfect home based on price, bedroom count, and bathroom count.

The worst possible way to advertise a home, which ignores the desires and motivations of home buyers, is precisely what the entire real estate industry does.

What are websites—advertising platforms?

What makes a buyer choose and most value a home—the emotional benefits received from visualizing future life events there?

What should you be advertising—the qualities of that home which trigger those emotions for the buyers?

What does the industry really do—advertise homes based on price and bedroom and bathroom counts?

Am I suggesting that brokers change the way they advertise homes—yes?

Am I suggesting the way the entire industry advertises and makes buyers search for a home needs changed—yes?

The next time you advertise a home on any medium consider what future events will bring your home buyer 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.


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