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  • Rob Purnell

Real Estate Porn and The Tyranny of Choice

Updated: Feb 10, 2020


In a 2000 "Jam study," a stand was set up in an upscale food market with 24 varieties of jam on display. The following day the same stand offered only 6 varieties of jam.

While the larger assortment attracted much higher interest in the display, people were only 10% as likely to buy as on the day with only 6 options. Why? Because unless a strong motivation to buy has been established, coupled with a thoughtful understanding of need and desire, too much choice leaves us confused, dissatisfied, and disillusioned. (HBR 2006.)


Real Estate Porn & The Tyranny of Choice

Today over 40% of couples meet through online dating, and it's rising fast. But studies show that far more time is spent online than actually dating. While these sites are good tools, they provide out-of-context, 2-dimensional views of potential mates. They do nothing to help searchers explore their true needs and desires, and they create fantasied expectations that most often end in disappointment. 


With me so far? Real estate sites are no different. Consumers sit at home ogling an endless stream of house photos and profiles. (My client and close friend dubbed this real estate porn.) But it comes without context: its history, flow, siting, neighborhood, community, market dynamics and, its energy. And just like online dating, we don't see what the house is like when it's just not having a good day.


Too often buyers and sellers dive into this river of listings before exploring their own true needs, expectations, and motivations or educating themselves on the market. Simon Sinek says, Start with Why. Then move to 'how', and only then does 'what' come into context. (I'm a big Simon Sinek fan.) 

It's fun to look at homes on the real estate sites. We all do it. (There's nothing to be ashamed of.) But as the Jam study shows, too many choices can be overwhelming without context and focus. As a real estate professional, it is my job to provide that focus: identify deeper motivations and goals, educate on market and process, and help curate the choice overload streaming from the internet. Your very own personal real estate Yenta! 


You look at houses, but you dream of home, and the life you want to live. Anyone can find a house. It's my job to help you reach your dreams.

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