Be prepared for buyers to make a snap judgement about your home

4 months ago
Be prepared for buyers to make a snap judgement about your home

How long do you think you have to impress a potential buyer when they arrive at your home? Five minutes? Until the end of a viewing? If you guessed either, you could be in for a surprise.  

Your home will make an almost instant impression, with the visitor taking just seconds to form an opinion. As a seller, you’ll want that impression to be a positive one. We recently read a fascinating blog post from an American company called Negative Space. Its articles are designed to educate property professionals on the art of preparation for a successful sale.

One of its most recent posts explores ‘the power of the snap judgement’, with research claiming people will decide whether they like your home or not in just eight seconds. Understanding the mechanics of snap judgements is crucial if home sellers want to use these insights to achieve more successful viewings. Here’s a quick psychology lesson.  

Snap judgements are a cognitive phenomenon, with our brains wired for efficiency. These quick decisions can override more measured and methodical, critical thinking, especially when decisions are powered by emotions. It’s a classic case of letting the heart rule the head.  

Snap judgements are also bound up in past experiences. Potential buyers will draw on what they have experienced at other homes – maybe ones they have lived in or houses they have recently viewed – and will link the two. This is great if their association is positive but the viewing will quickly turn sour if negative emotions are stirred on first arrival.  

Another factor is acting on instincts in a ‘fight or flight’ capacity. Although a survival mechanism, a snap judgement is the same type of immediate assessment of a situation. Typically, people will say they have a ‘gut feeling’ about something when they’re actually acting on their instincts, and this is what’s happening when people arrive at a property.  

Finally, there’s the halo effect and this is something sellers have more control over. Here, the thinking is that one stand-out feature can influence a buyers’ perception of the entire property – even if the rest of the home doesn’t quite match the standard. It could be a stunning kitchen that puts a positive spin on the entire viewing. Conversely, a rubbish-strewn front garden may take the shine off an otherwise immaculate home.  

If eight seconds is all you have to make a good first impression, efforts should be concentrated on your front of house. That’s not to say the interior of your property shouldn’t be clean and clutter free, but start outside first. Areas of concern include:  

Gates and fencing: ensure nothing is missing, broken or in a poor state of repair

Driveways: weed block paving, have conked-out vehicles and skips removed, and hide bins/recycling boxes

Front gardens: any grass should be mowed, weeds removed, overgrown trees/shrubs cut back and litter cleaned up 

Paths & steps: ensure access to your property is safe, level and free of ice/snow/slippery moss 

Lighting: consider installing a motion-sensor light for a brighter, safer welcome

Front door: ensure it’s clean or freshly painted, with a working bell/knocker and a clearly-visible house name or number

Plants: add colour with hanging baskets or pots but be sure to remove foliage and flowers when they die back 

If you would like advice about getting your home ready for a sale, please contact us today.

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