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Capturing a home buyer's imagination

Market researcher Clotaire Rapaille contends that all purchasing decisions are driven by our unconscious needs and impulses. We may rationalize why we’re buying a new Acura, for example, but it’s our “reptilian brain” that really drives the decision. In an interview with Response Magazine, Rapaille remarked that "the best advertising addresses consumers' real needs….when you address their unspoken needs they welcome you."

Depending on our personality, our reptilian brain may crave familial warmth, tranquility, power, or security. Fortune 500 companies have long sought out Rapaille to understand the reptilian hot buttons that compel consumers to take action.

Is Rapaille onto something? It's hard to say, but I believe there is value in making an emotional connection when selling a home. Today we have a wealth of opportunities to do just that. Selling a home isn’t just about getting a home listed in dozens of places online. It’s doing so in a way that captures the imagination. After all, reading home specifications alone could easily put you to sleep. It’s not inspiring. So what can real estate agents do to showcase your home in a more captivating manner?

Focus on feelings, not features. REI did this with its Hikers TV commercial. Instead of touting the features of its latest camping gear, REI showed the true joy of hiking. One YouTube viewer gushed, “It’s a fitting example of one of those awesome happenstance moments that always seem to happen whenever you take a journey”. How often do you see a TV commercial have that positive effect on someone? Like REI, realtors should be getting to the heart of what’s special about each home they’re marketing.

That’s why it’s so insightful for your listing agent to hear about what made your home stand out to you when you first bought it. Having this understanding helps us see the home through your eyes—and hopefully find a new buyer who loves it just as much!

Offer lifestyle home searches. It may not be all that exciting to search for homes online using basic criteria like square footage, but it certainly would pique buyers’ interest if they could search for homes based on the lifestyle they crave (country living, luxury waterfront, metropolitan life, etc.)

Infuse home marketing with people. While most product advertising uses models to show off their products, real estate advertising almost never shows people. Perhaps this is because the MLS prevents us from using people in their listing photography, but today there are plenty of other marketing channels that give us the freedom to do so. After seeing endless pictures of empty homes, it’s refreshing to see real estate agents begin to create ads showing real people enjoying all that the home offers.

For example, realty firm Peters & Associates held a fashion shoot to market a Charlotte, North Carolina manse. It was a compelling way to highlight the home’s entertaining space. In fact, a man who had seen the home a few months beforehand was perusing listings when he came across the photos. They caught his attention, and helped him see the house in a new light. A few weeks later, he bought the home. The Peters’ photography was a bit provocative, but lifestyle photography doesn’t need to be. It’s designed to capture the spirit and possibilities of a home.

Understand relocation concerns. The Boston area is one of the most popular destinations for relocating professionals. Many of those professionals have tremendous flexibility in where they chose to live. If you’re selling your home in Hopkinton for example, buyers visiting your home may well be considering homes in a number of other towns. To overcome this challenge, your listing agent can give buyers a glimpse into all the things that make the community special.

Have a real estate question? Contact Leslie Mann and she'd be glad to answer your confidential questions. Mann is a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Weston.