Selling a home is more than throwing a sign in the yard, uploading some pictures, and eating popcorn while you wait for a bite.
Our business is built on guiding homeowners through our unique approach to sell their home for the most money and in the least amount of time possible. When we set out to build this approach, we knew a basic understanding of human thinking and behavior was a requirement.
This is not an approach to selling homes built on the principles of real estate, this is an approach built on the principles of human behavior.
Are people irrational?
As the parents of three girls, we get to experience a whole buffet of human behavior. Sometimes, they just don’t seem to make sense. But, in reality, there is a reason for everything they do, whether we understand it or not.
You’ll often hear people say that this person or that person is being ‘irrational’ or ‘illogical’. But, it is universally impossible for anyone to truly be irrational. The behavior of another person may not make sense to you (or anybody else for that matter), but there is a completely logical reason why they’re behaving or speaking the way they are – could be mental illness, confusion, lying, proving a point…
A person can’t be wearing a shirt and NOT wearing a shirt, at the same time – even if they say they are. Further, there’s a perfectly rational explanation for why someone would say they are, so saying something illogical isn’t actually being illogical. Human beings always have a reason for what they do and say, whether they know it or not. Because of this, they can be understood.
This is important to us as marketers of your home and we built our approach based on this premise. Human beings can be understood and their actions are, somewhat, predictable. With this understanding we can craft stories, both visually and with the written word, to create an emotional connection between buyers and your home.
An emotional connection
In their book, “Made To Stick“, Chip and Dan Heath mention a study that took place at Carnegie Mellon. The study found that thinking about statistics made people think more analytically. And, when we’re analytical we’re less emotional. Talking about numbers or causing a buyer to process calculations primes them to feel less. And, the real estate industry loves to throw out numbers.
We want people to be in an emotional frame of mind. We want them to feel, so that they care and are inspired to act. We still need to let them know that a property is a 4 bedroom with 3000 square feet on 2.5 acres, but we can do it in the context of a story.
The complete story
There is a documented theory that people remember images better than words. This Picture Superiority Effect explains that our minds process images much faster than words and they are stored in more easily retrieved memory.
Since the pictures are usually the first encounter a buyer has with your home, we give them a lot of attention. The combination of model home staging and a professional photographer make your pictures irresistible.
A pet-peeve of ours is seeing pictures that make a home look bigger than it is or edited in a way to remove blemishes. The last thing we want is a buyer to fall in love with the pictures of your home and then show up and be let down. We direct our photographer to avoid any manipulative angles that distort the size of the interior and to leave the character of your home intact. No air-brushed magazine covers allowed.
People generally look at and process images first, but let’s not forget how effective text can be. People have been observed to learn slower when only shown pictures. It makes sense that words provide the details and can expand on ideas. Words allow us to use our imagination and form pictures of worlds in our own minds.
There is a higher purpose to using these images and text together. Of course, we want potential buyers to see and hear about your home, but our intention is to tell them a story–because we are wired to become attached to, and remember, stories.
Human beings are drawn to stories. Stories are captivating and inspirational. They can be a comfort during times of stress or move us to action. Movements are created with the written word.
In the context of selling your home, the buyer is the hero of our story. We’re talking about the characteristics and virtues of your home, but our ultimate goal is to transport the buyer to the near future. Their imagination is churning with thoughts of how their life will be better once they live in this home.
Briefly study psychology and you will find a name and explanation for all kinds of common human behaviors we take for granted. These theories and ideas put into perspective the nature of human behaviors and their consistency – and that is immensely helpful.
A great example is the Isolation Effect. It is simply the theory that in a group of things that all share similar traits, the one thing that is different is more likely to be remembered. It stands out. Seems like common sense, but we’re more interested in discovering what it takes to make something stand out. How much different does it need to be and how does that translate to homes.
The Self Reference Effect maintains that a person’s recall is better when the memory involves them. Maybe it’s a little self-centered or maybe it’s just the nature of how our brain works, but this was useful information when building out our approach to marketing and selling homes.
Do you have one of those memories that invokes a certain feeling or mood every time it pops in your head? This can be explained by Mood Congruent Memory Bias – we tag memories with the mood we were in at the time of encoding (when we filed it away in our memory). If we were happy or generally positive during a particular event, the memory of that event will have a generally positive feel.
The study of these concepts goes much deeper than we’re summarizing here. We’re primarily concerned with how each effect is caused and if we can rely on the behavior to be consistent.
What we learned
Putting it all together, we extract the following:
To consistently sell homes for the most money and in the least amount of time possible, we need to prepare your home in such a way that makes it stand out from every other comparable home on the market. We have to tell a story, first through accurate, beautiful pictures and then with the written word. The story woven throughout the narrative will take them on a journey from encountering your home online to the first time they walk in the door. We have to minimize statistics and numbers to keep the buyer in an emotional frame of mind to connect with your home on a deep level and inspire them to act. That connection will involve their imagination running wild with thoughts of decorating and hosting and thriving. The buyer has the lead part in these thoughts that will soon be memories consuming their mind. That’s when they decide, “I can’t live without this home”.