It takes seven seconds to make a first impression—just seven short seconds for a solid negative or positive impression to form. The process starts after just half a second. Once formed, first impressions tend to be lasting, and they can be difficult and sometimes impossible to undo. This principle applies to everything from meeting people to viewing properties.
“We judge books by their covers, and we can’t help but do it,” says Nicholas Rule, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto who has extensively studied first impressions. “With effort, we can overcome this to some extent, but we are continually tasked with needing to correct ourselves.”
The same principle applies to searching for the perfect property. In the world of ranch buying, these snap judgments that every human makes when they pull up to a property can work in favor of the seller if they are thoughtful about how they present their property. Many small details come together to form a good (or bad) first impression. It is worth spending a little extra or putting in the labor to ensure that the landscaping looks neat, the fences are in working order, and the houses and outbuildings are painted and stained. Buyers will note all these things right off the bat, and they will collectively help form their first impression. Spending the money upfront to fix up and tidy the property will pay off in the long run. Once the first impression is formed, it will set the tone for the rest of the tour and could be the difference between a quick sale and a property that languishes on the market for months or years.
As a seller who is used to seeing their property every day, it can be difficult to detach and see your property through the eyes of a potential buyer. The run down, unused shed you drive by regularly on the way to check on your cows barely registers after all these years, but the potential buyer who drives by it for the first time on their way in may see that and worry you don’t properly maintain the rest of the ranch. As you prepare to list your property, put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and take note of these types of things that you may not consider on a daily basis. A good broker is worth their weight in gold when it comes to helping build positive first impressions. They can help provide a fresh set of eyes and expert guidance on which improvements to invest in to make a ranch more marketable. The longer a property is on the market, the less desirable it is perceived to be, making these types of improvements an essential part of the listing process.
As brokers, we try to make the buyer’s first impression memorable and build on that throughout the tour, ending with a positive last impression as we depart. A good broker is acutely tuned into the importance of making an excellent first impression—both personally and for the property—and compounding that throughout the property tour.
While it is possible to overcome a poor first impression if the rest of the property knocks it out of the park for the buyer, it isn’t a worthwhile risk. A good first impression sets a positive tone for the rest of the property tour, and everything the potential buyer sees afterward is viewed in a more positive light than it otherwise would have had a bad first impression been made. It is simple human psychology at work, and it is a critically important part of successfully selling real estate.
Dave was born, raised, and educated in the plains of South Dakota. As a boy, he spent many days bird-dogging and fishing walleye with his family. He graduated from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota with a degree in marketing and management.
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