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Homebuyers touring houseBuying a home is a huge decision. Most of us spend years planning, consulting with professionals, crunching numbers, and making lists. However, in the end, choosing a house comes down to a gut decision. As much as we might want to think that it’s a logical calculation, there are a lot of emotions that come into play.

Many homeowners make their final decision based on “a good feeling,” or perhaps, “I just really love it.” In fact, in a study in Australia, almost half of homebuyers reported paying more for a house just because they “really liked it.”

First Impressions

It happens all the time: you see a house from the outside and fall in love at first sight. That gabled window! So charming! And can’t you just imagine sitting on that porch on summer evenings? This first impression tends to color our entire impression of a house. It provides a reference point for every other bit of information that we get. However, studies have found over and over again that the first impression has little bearing on how much we’ll like a place over time.

So, go ahead and listen to your instincts when you’re checking out a place. But be flexible enough to acknowledge that a good first impression can be completely negated by expensive fixes that are outside of your budget. It’s important to realize that most of the things that affect our first impression are just a matter of curb appeal.


Another dangerous emotion when it comes to making the homebuying decision is fear. Fear can drive us to act without thinking something through. For example, say we’ve fallen in love with a house at first sight, and then the seller tells us that there are quite a few other offers. We might decide to offer a lot more than what the house is actually worth, out of fear of losing our opportunity.

Fear also comes into play when we’re handling finances beyond that which we’re used to seeing, all manipulated by forces we don’t completely understand. The additional costs of buying a home, and the many mistakes one can make, all leave a bigger impact than we’d like to admit. No one wants to look like a fool, and the fear of making mistakes during the homebuying process can make us stand still when we should move forward, and flee when we should hold our ground.


At first, you might think that it’s crazy that someone from a different culture doesn’t like a house because it has the number “4” in the address, or the front door is facing in the wrong direction. But it’s important to examine your own superstitions before you mock. For example, do you see the same wallpaper that you had as a child in a new house, and immediately think that it’s a sign? Do you notice certain coincidences and read a lot more into them than you should?

Instead of looking for serendipity, you might need to trust the more rational analysis of a partner, a trusted realtor, or a logical list that you made for yourself.