Why First Impressions Matter When Selling Your Home

“Did I ever tell you that good poker players often watch their opponent’s eyes when they draw new cards?
What they are looking for is to see the reaction of their opponent’s eyes to the cards they draw. If their eyes widen, that is if their pupils dilate, that means that they liked the new cards they received. If their pupils constrict it probably means that what happened is that they received cards of which they are not fond.
This is a totally involuntary reaction. Apparently, what happens is that when we see something we like our eyes open up so we can let in more light and see more of it. and, conversely, when we see something we don’t like we do just the opposite: we try to cut down the flow of light so we don’t have to see as much of it.
Well, I have a theory about all this. What I believe is that most (or many) of our decisions about how we like or dislike something are made not in 40 seconds, or the first 4 or 40 minutes but rather in the first fraction of a second we see something new.
And I further believe that we unconsciously spend the rest of our so-called decision making time not really making a decision after all, but instead, searching for justification for the decision we have already made.”

 

This insight comes from legendary copywriter and marketer, Gary Halbert, chronicled in “The Boron Letters”. He may not cite facts, stats or sources for his theory, but they’re out there. Numerous studies have shown just how quick we first make subconscious decisions, then search for justification to make the final call through our ability to reason.

This means one thing; first impressions are critical. Especially when selling something.

Could it really be that people make home buying decisions in a matter of seconds?

Well first the property must meet certain criteria pertaining to the needs of your prospective buyer to even be in the cards. These are things usually out of your control. Either they work for someone or they don’t. If they walk in your house and don’t like the floor plan, the size doesn’t quite pan out, or some unnoticed flaw in the location comes to light; there’s really not much you can do about it. Furthermore, not everyone will like your kitchen. Other people may want to rip your brand new carpet up asap. You can’t cater to everyone’s needs/preferences so time to get past that.

Ultimately, it boils down to justification. Like Halbert points out “we unconsciously spend the rest of our so-called decision making time not really making a decision after all, but instead, searching for justification for the decision we have already made”

So assuming your place is “in the cards”, from that point on, prospective buyers will be searching to justify
either why the home is “the one” or why it isn’t; more or less from the get-go.

This is a critical point in the entire process and where seemingly “little things” can make it or break it.

Why?

Because they’re rather “universal”, meaning they will appeal to anyone. This is a conversation I seem to have repeatedly with home sellers. For starters, it is a matter of exposing these little things; chipped/faded paint, replacing cracked windows, cluttered space, improper home staging and everyday wear/filth just to name a few.
These things aren’t always blatantly obvious, no matter how many homes you’ve walked through, and is a big reason why I hire a team of experts to assist in this process.

Often times it’s hard for folks to wrap their head around how addressing the seemingly little things are going to “add value” and make them more money in the sale.
The answer is: they won’t.

It is true that somewhere out there, there are people who can look past that cracked and dirty window, stained carpet, or faded siding. But the more they have to, the harder you’re making it on yourself. They may be able to see past it all but you better believe they’re factoring in what work needs to be done, what doesn’t need to be done, and holding it all relative to and either in support of or against the asking price.

So do you really want to rely on someone to just look past it all?

Furthermore, are we striving for perfection here? Not necessarily. But considering the little things are standing at the front lines, they’re critical in making that first impression. Obviously it needs to be a good one because from there, the task is to keep reinforcing that justification as to why your home is the one.

Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t achieved by convincing words of the silver tongued salesman. Remember, talk is cheap.

These reinforcements come as a function of the time and effort and money you’ve spent addressing the little things long before they even walked in the door. Like little breadcrumbs, you’re showing buyers, here and there, leading them to that golden offer we’re after.

Think of it like standing in a river with a fish on your line. It’s a hell of a lot easier to keep them in the flow, coming downstream to your net rather than to work them against the current.

Case in point being the home sellers I recently worked with.
When working with savvy homeowners, who have bought and sold numerous times, it’s not uncommon that a lot of the “work” in regards to prepping for the market, is already done. By that I mean they’ve taken care of the place and run a pretty tight ship. Even at that though, the “little things” likely still exist.

Out there at the little old outpost of Sargents, Colorado on the flanks of the Sawatch Range exists a resilient little community. Many of the property owners are seasonal but here and there you’ll find the hardy year rounders’. Isolated areas like this sometimes add to the challenge of selling a property as you can imagine.

The plan really wasn’t complex or elaborate one bit. Given the nature of the location and past experience, it was unlikely that there would be a plethora of showings, so we needed to make the absolute most out of any opportunity with the right first impression.

The largest task at hand was downsizing the bulky furniture, knick-knacks and decorations as they were sucking the space out of nearly every room in the house. It’s not uncommon for this to be the case when you’ve lived somewhere for over a decade either. We make it our own in every which way. But when it’s time to move on, the idea is to make someone else feel like it’s theirs, so “out with the old and in with the new”.

A couple weeks’ worth of downsizing/cleaning prep and minor repairs had the place in great shape and with a little staging expertise, we were ready for showings.

But they didn’t come.
One week, two weeks, a month, going on two months…

The sellers began to question and criticize our marketing efforts. Were we missing the boat here? Or was it a matter of the market and other things beyond our control?

Well eventually, the home did sell. Not for full asking price and not in a significantly fast manner. However, it did sell after the one and only showing we had nearly two months after listing.

I’m not going to expect you to believe that it happened strictly because the buyers were “wooed” from the get-go, but I can tell you that it didn’t hurt. Call it luck, coincidence, or mere chance if you will, but having worked with the sellers every step of the way to make sure no showing opportunities were squandered due to a careless presentation, I’m certain their success came as a function of it.

There’s an old adage, perhaps you’ve heard it; “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Use it wisely