Have you ever heard the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?”

Of course you have; it’s ubiquitous, part of our modern vernacular. But it doesn’t tell the full story when it comes to listing your home for sale. When it comes to the psychology of home buyers, often times if you blow the first impression – that’s it. End of story. Finished. Finito. C’est la vie. You get the idea.

What does that mean exactly? Well, psychologists say that within fifteen seconds of meeting someone for the first time we have already decided whether or not we like them. A recent Princeton study suggests that many of the judgements made upon seeing someone new are actually made within 1/10 of a second. I don’t know that any peer-reviewed studies have been conducted on how those snap judgements correlate to seeing a house for the first time, but by extension you can realize that they are most certainly made with perspective homes too. Home buying is an emotional experience. Buyers are excited to be getting their first home, or to find the perfect place to hang their hats at the end of the day. Don’t pull the rug out from under them.

And no we’re not talking curb appeal. Because let’s be real, you may have an ugly house that no amount of new shutters or potted fall mums can dress up. The buyers seeing it with their agent don’t necessarily care; they’ve already seen pictures and they’re still there for a showing right? I mean if that’s the case and it really is just ugly, you bought it too so right there are at least a couple people who could get past it. For some people curb appeal is everything, but others may see that beautiful landscaping as unimportant, or even a maintenance headache. So if it isn’t curb appeal, what is it?

Make sure that the walk up to the front door, the door itself, and the entry do not have issues.

In other words, at a bare minimum, fix problems that people will encounter when entering your home. Knowing that we make snap judgements, what do you think happens when the key sticks in your rusty deadbolt and a potential buyer has to jiggle it for thirty seconds just to get into your house? Or lose their balance after grabbing for a rickety handrail? Or see your fluorescent green foyer? They go from looking for things to love to looking for more problems, and that is bad for you as a seller.

The moral? Just let them be excited and don’t mess it up. Sometimes that’s really all you have to do. Just don’t mess it up. Walk from the curb to your front door and into your house before you go to market and be hyper-critical. Do it with a friend. Do it with your Realtor. If you see anything that’s off, and find yourself mentally following it up with, “Well yeah, but…” – then fix it. A stranger doesn’t have your emotional attachment and existing positive impression. Change it. Eliminate it. Because the reason buyers are there is that they already like the house – that’s why they are spending a Saturday looking at it instead of watching the game. It’s bigger than their current one that’s too small. It’s smaller than their current one that’s too big. If you can get through that initial impression and allow them to stay positive, then you may have a potential buyer on your hands.

About the author

Steve Smith
Senior broker and team leader at Irish Realty, Steve has been a top producing agent since 2005 and has represented clients in transactions totaling well over $130M in career sales. With a broad experience base that is not simply limited to single family homes, coupled with his market leading track record of success, Steve has established himself as one of the South Bend area’s most respected Realtors. You can follow Steve on Facebook and several other social media platforms.

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