The dangers of relying on first impressions when shopping for a home

Wendy Mundy
Published on April 13, 2022

The dangers of relying on first impressions when shopping for a home

When you’re looking at homes, pay close attention to your first impressions: they can be very powerful. They’re also often incorrect. A carefully appointed house with good curb appeal and a compelling atmosphere can blind buyers to its flaws and potential problems.

How Important are First Impressions When Home Buying?

First impressions have a dramatic influence on home buyers. Many buyers decide whether or not they are interested in buying a home within minutes of seeing it from the street.

Both real estate agents and home sellers understand that choosing a home often comes down to first impressions. There are companies that do nothing other than “”stage”” homes to lure buyers.

It’s important to remember this when looking at homes. The homeowner who repaints the exterior of a house to increase curb appeal understands first impressions. So too does the staging company that comes in to rearrange furniture and add accessories to a room.

The goal is to make people viewing the house feel welcome and, well, at home. Of course, the furniture and accessories that make up the bulk of your first impressions won’t be part of the house sale in most cases- and they may distract you from flaws that the house may have.

First Impressions and Home Buying Pitfalls

There’s nothing wrong with sellers trying to make their homes as attractive to buyers as possible. The danger is that your first impression of a house could influence your decision to buy or not.

Curb appeal, or how attractive a home looks from the street, is a good example. The home may have a fresh coat of paint and planters full of flowers by the front door, both of which improve curb appeal. Both features, however, really aren’t that important when choosing a home.

Sure, fresh paint is nice, but it doesn’t influence a house’s structural integrity or floor plan, both of which are more important considerations than the exterior paint. Potted plants are a lovely touch, but easy to replace, and not as important as well-established flower beds and other permanent landscaping features.

Similar dangers occur inside the house. People tend to take in the overall “feel” of a room when they should be looking at the room itself. Furniture and decorations can distract from checking the level of the floor or the size of the room. A finished family room in a basement is a bonus, but could mask cracks in the foundation.

In other words, when looking at homes be aware that, as with people, first impressions are important, but can also be deceiving. Before you choose your home be sure that you’re looking past the curb appeal and décor.

Finally, don’t skip the home inspection and feel free to ask your real estate agent for an opinion on the home. We’re here to help.