As a Realtor®, you’ve helped dozens of people purchase homes. Some were first homes; others were second and subsequent homes, but one thing remains the same across each type of home purchase: the psychology of buying.

One way you can help your clients make the right decision while you’re building a lifelong relationship is to ensure that you really have their best interests at heart… even if they don’t realize it.

What Happens Behind-the-Scenes When Someone Buys a Home? 

As with any major purchase, the brain is hard at work when someone buys a home.

Psychologists say that in many cases, the way someone feels about a house—including their preconceived notions about having a large home, for example, or a home in a particular neighborhood—often causes them to lose sight of what’s really going to make them happy.

the psychology behind buying a home

“It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing the physical features of the places you’re looking at, but you should really stop to consider how the places you’re considering will shape your social relationships,” says Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia. “If you’re moving to a place far away from your friends, but it has nicer stuff, it’s not a great deal for your happiness.”

One of the biggest trade-offs people make when they’re moving to a “better” home is commute. Sure, the home is bigger, nicer, and newer — but they’ll spend a few hours less in it each week (and those hours will most likely be spent away from their families) if the commute is longer.

“When people move to better housing, they think they will be a lot happier overall,” says Shige Oishi, co-author of a 2010 study on happiness and moving for Social Indicators Research. “When they actually move, however, their overall happiness does not often change because there are many trade-offs in moving.”

So what does this mean for Realtors?

As you’re getting to know your clients, make sure you’re taking stock of what’s really important to them. Is it the big, open kitchen in a house a half-hour farther from work, or is it mainly that they want a gathering place to feel more connected with their family? Paying attention to what your clients aren’t vocalizing can help you help them—and that’s what this business is really about.

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