Are you familiar with how speed dating works? An event is held for singles in which folks essentially rotate around the room for 3 minute meetings with one person (ding! bell rings!), and then another person (ding!) and another (ding!). At the end, participants let the event manager know which of the people they’ve met they’d be interested in getting to know better.
I’m convinced that today’s house hunting is quite similar. Buyers are looking for a house that will be a good match, and are looking at a lot of prospects at once. Except in the world of real estate, the speed dating happens online.
Research indicates that at least 90% of today’s buyers begin their home search online, where each listing provides them with a huge amount of information about the home: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, photos of the rooms/yard/patio/garage, lot dimensions, semi-annual taxes, links to community and school info, and so much more. One could spend an hour drilling down through all the info that is provided for each house. An ardent buyer could research and research and research a particular home. With all the data that is available for review, one wonders just how long it takes the average buyer to decide whether s/he has continuing interest in the house…or not. 4 minutes? 6 minutes? I’ve seen results of two studies seeking to answer this question. In one study the average length of time to decide was 18, in one it was 12. Not minutes, though. Seconds. Just 12 seconds to decide whether there is further interest in the house! (Ding! Bell rings! Move to the next listing.)
Okay, there is no bell dinging. The only sound you hear in this real estate version of speed dating is the sound of mouse clicks or fingers swiping over a touchscreen. The mouse is clicking (turbo speed) through the photos. Click (like the front of the house), click (spacious porch!), click (awesome! hardwoods in the dining room!), click (oh no! look at all the dated wallpaper and old carpeting!). And this buyer knows he doesn’t have the budget-or-time to do the updating, so (ding!) the bell in the buyer’s mind has just rung, and…poof…on to the next listing. 12 seconds and gone.
Or sometimes it goes like this: click (front’s okay), click, click, click (the whole first floor looks fine), click (master bedroom is really spacious), click (woo-hoo! everything there works for us!). One more click: sending the listing to her agent, asking to go see the house in person because she loves it! 12 seconds.
In real estate, it used to be that buyers often decided on whether or not to explore a house based on its “Curb Appeal,” that is, how enticing it looked while driving by. Curb appeal is still nice, but with 90% of buyers beginning their search online, most buyers never get to your curb. I think it is now about “Click Appeal.” What’s in those online photos matters. Savvy sellers realize they are speed dating with buyers online, and they do all they can so those photos paint an enticing picture. Savvy sellers try to make their 12 seconds count! More about that another day. Because (ding!) I know you’re ready to be gone.