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Helping Buyers Focus - Too Many Options Paralyze Decisions

Helping Buyers Focus - Too Many Options Paralyze Decisions 

By Linda O’Koniewski 

Years ago I heard an NPR story that I found enlightening as it related to real estate.  An Ivy League economics professor who was studying how people made purchasing decisions discovered something most counter-intuitive.  Her study was sparked by her Saturday romps through her New York City neighborhood, which often included a 

stop at her favorite gourmet grocery store.  This Economic Professor loved to visit the store, take in the aromas and admire the grand selection of fine foods and quality products.  She observed that there were over 200 different kinds of mustards at this specialty shop.

 What she found curious is that she noticed that she never bought anything at that store.  She wanted to dig deeper into what she was experiencing and went on to design a study on people’s buying behavior.  What she learned is that when consumers are confronted with overwhelming choice of products, making a decision to buy one is so difficult that they wind up buying nothing or taking an exaggerated amount of time to come to a purchase decision. 

Eureka - that is exactly what happens to folks who want to buy a house.  There are so many homes to choose from, in so many towns, in so many different neighborhoods, with so many different style choices, and so many different amenities that will affect each buyer’s life each day, that selecting the perfect home can be overwhelming.

 Combined with studies that have researched different buying styles this is some heavy and illuminating stuff.  Some folks are pretty relaxed about their home search, know what they want and can make a decision when they find something that meets their needs fairly quickly without an exhausting search.  This is rare but possible.  They are satisfied when they find a property that works.  On the other side of the buyer spectrum are those buyers who fall into the category of “maximizers.”  Maximizers are folks that need to know they got the absolute best house at the best price for their money.  They are devoted to game, “Can they get an extra full bath for that price with all other factors being the same, or perhaps a two-car vs one-car garage?”  Maximizers also need to know they got the best deal possible and didn’t overpay by a penny.  Most folks fall somewhere in between these two buyers on the purchasing spectrum. 

Studies on purchasing indicate that people who look at fewer items and make a decision are often happier with their decision than those who painstakingly analyze all aspects of their purchase during their fatiguing search.  Those who want to maximize are almost always left with a feeling that there is probably a better product out there than the one they bought.  They suffer from lingering disappointment wondering if a good one “got away.” 

We have systems, which will outline over the next few weeks, to educate buyers on how to search for a good home that truly matches their needs.  Stay tuned.