Feature article

The psychology behind real estate

In this quick guide, we’ll go over some key psychological factors at play in the minds of property buyers and sellers.

Last updated: 12 March 2024

The power (and speed) of first impressions

You never get a second chance at making a first impression. And you don’t have much time either: anecdotally, buyers decide how they feel about a home within the first 7-10 seconds of arriving.

This tiny window is your golden opportunity to catch their attention. A well-presented, inviting home may also tip the scales in favour of a faster sale at a more attractive price. This is where home staging and thoughtful pre-sale renovations come into play, putting the property in its best light.

Boosting perceived value

In an interesting article, property valuer Craig Russell set out to answer a frequently asked question: “What does market value really mean?

As you know, market value is an estimate, not an exact science. A house is worth just how much a buyer is willing to pay. This may be deeply influenced by their emotions. Once again, strategic upgrades can go a long way to enhancing the property’s appeal – whether it’s a splash of fresh paint or modernised fixtures.

Feeling safe in a new home is also paramount. Speaking of improvements, consider adding features that boost this sense of security, like an alarm system, security cameras, or higher fences.

Plus, don’t underestimate the ‘herd mentality’ effect: a busy open home may cause the buyers to think that the property is desirable. This brings us to the next point…

5 Wiggins Street, Sumner, Christchurch City

The impact of FOMO and FOOP

As we saw during the 2020-2021 upswing, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can be a powerful motivator in the real estate market. At the opposite end of the spectrum is FOOP, or the Fear of Over-Paying.

This push-and-pull dynamic is difficult to predict and works on two factors: the desire to want what everyone has and a lack of listings. So, how can you help vendors navigate FOMO and FOOP? By crafting a balanced marketing strategy.

During periods of FOOP, it’s all about reassurance. Highlight what makes that house a home beyond the price tag and share stories of happy homeowners who found value in their purchase. Then, when FOMO is back again, amp up the excitement without tipping into pressure. Use the buzz of the crowd as proof the property is worth a look. And when it comes to pricing, make it just right that it feels like a win for everyone.

Some cognitive biases at play

When it comes to how buyers decide on a home, several cognitive biases can influence the decision-making process. These can include:

  • Confirmation bias – When buyers walk into a house and it instantly feels like home, they may start looking for all the reasons why it’s the perfect fit, ignoring any downsides. That first ‘this is it’ feeling can really stick.
  • Accessibility bias – It’s all about visibility. If a house keeps popping up in searches and listings, it’s more likely to stay on a buyer’s mind. And the more a buyer sees a house, the more they may start to think it might be the one.
  • Anchoring and adjustment bias – This one is all about first impressions with price. If a buyer hears a price first (for example, for another property in the area), that number will probably stick with them, and they may compare every other house to that price. If your house is the one setting the standard, you’re likely to be in a great spot to negotiate.

Friends and family matter

When facing big decisions like buying a house, what our friends and family think matters a lot. You can leverage the power of buyers’ social circles by providing information that they can easily share around, so they can get that thumbs up from the people they trust.

Selling a home can be emotional

For many, selling your property can be an emotional rollercoaster too. Maybe it’s where you brought up your baby, celebrated key milestones, or enjoyed simple, everyday moments. So, when it’s time to sell, these emotions can really stir the pot, making decisions a bit more complicated than just settling on a price.

In many cases, both the seller and the buyer are riding their own emotional waves. That’s where a good real estate agent comes in, acting as the calm in the storm. With the right help, you can move on to your next adventure, and buyers can start a brand-new chapter, all with a smile.

Get help with List Now

The good news is, you don’t have to fund marketing costs without support.

List Now is a privately owned and operated New Zealand company that specialises in simplifying the selling process. Their mission is to help Kiwi sellers make the most of their property opportunities with their smart finance tools. Access marketing funds of up to $35k within 24 hours of application, with no upfront cost. Learn more about how they could help you here.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.


Karen Jackson
Karen Jackson

When it comes to finance, there’s not a lot Karen can’t help you with. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, it’s fair to say that Karen knows how to make finance work for you. So, a few years ago, when talking to a friend who was selling her home, Karen realised she could create a finance package that could help Kiwi get the marketing they really wanted for the sale of their home, not just the marketing they could squeeze onto their credit card.

Not satisfied with simply providing an easy solution, Karen was determined to create a smarter financial outcome too. Finance that even those with cash in the bank would seriously consider. And so, List Now was born. Today, Karen’s idea has helped thousands to get finance to cover the marketing of their home & cover renovations. Best of all, it’s helped them to achieve a better price for the sale of their home.

When she’s not arranging great finance deals for her clients, you’re likely to find Karen running a marathon. Or training for the next one.