This is from an online friend looking for a new home:

“We’ve been in the housing market for months. (Thankfully, we’re under contract now — so glad!) But we noticed that some photography can be so good that it doesn’t tell the truth about what could be an absolute rat nest. There were many times we saw a house online and we thought, Heck yeah! Looks fantastic—let’s write up an offer now! And then we go see it and it’s like some gross former crime scene or the design result of someone’s weird lifestyle fetish. And we’d wonder, is this the same house? Those photos made it seem so perfect.” – Casey H.

My friend is describing congnative dissonance.  One definition of cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced when confronted with new information that contradicts current beliefs, ideals, and values.

We see this often in real estate when a listing has wonderful photographs online. When buyers actually walk through the house though the pictures don’t reflect reality.  An idicator that congnitative dissonace is present is when a home has excellent foot traffic but no offers.  Buyers walked into the home with a certain expectation only to find the expectation gone unmet.

Repeat customers reward businesses who simply set an expectation and fulfill it consistently. Consider two businesses I admire.  Marriot Hotels and Starbucks Coffee. Marriot Hotels have multiple brands and price points.  My wife and I often choose one particular brand of Marriot hotels because we know the price point and it seems everytime we visit the experience is very similar. The same clean white bed covers. The same safe feeling. The same clean rooms. Similar furniture and art on the walls.  They seem to always deliver with precision on the expectations they set.

It has been said that Starbucks slightly over-roasts their coffee on purpose.  Many have noted the slightly bitter taste of their brewed coffee.  They figured out that if they roast it a little longer, then it becomes possible with their massive distribution across many cities in America, that a Starbucks coffee in Butte, Montana now tastes very similar to one in Miami, Florida.  Starbucks has found that a slightly bitter cup of coffee that is consistant to its customers expectation is more important than a better cup of coffee. The least amount of cognitive dissonance creates a better client interaction. This holds true in real estate.

We are in the business of helping sellers offer the absolute best product to the marketplace. That is why we provide professional photography with every listing. However, after looking through the photographs we challenge our sellers to take a reality assessment of the listing.  Does the home match the expectation that the photos set? What will a buyer feel when they actually walk through the property? What items should be addressed that will prevent a buyer from moving forward?

The goal of successful sellers is to close the gap between the expectations a buyer has and any dissonance they feel when actually encountering the home.

This honesty assessment takes a trusted, experienced professional to help sellers discern and imagine with accuracy what the buyers will react to.  This kind of experience seperates one listing agent from another.  Call us if you are looking to list your property. We can help.