Ten Psychological Factors In Selling A House In The NYC Area

A house is the most emotional purchase anyone will make. No surprise that deep psychology goes into buyers’ saying yes.

By Jeff Vasishta February 23, 2017

Any sales person will tell you that getting a buyer to part with their cash usually comes down to emotion. If you can create a deep attachment with your potential client, then dollars signs will follow. Nowhere is that more apparent than in real estate. A house is where families are raised and memories made. Seasoned realtors and brokers have honed selling to a fine art. In New York, where house prices are amongst some of the most expensive in the world, the psychology at play could make most trained shrinks step back in admiration.

DNAInfo reported that in a soft market, as we are currently in, bidding wars are passé. The hype and hard sell in a crowded open house are about as dated as a MySpace account.

“People in this marketplace do not want to get into bidding wars,” Claire Groome of Warburg Realty said. “When there are too many offers [nowadays], it frightens away the buyer, and people have moved on in their mind.”

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Listing slightly below

This technique may be from the school they knocked down to build the old school—but it still works. Instead of listing a property at $2 million, knocking $1,000 or $5,000 off to $1.999 million or $1.995 may help move it. According to Street Easy data, listings between $300,000 and $1 million used the “just below” strategy nearly 90 percent of the time. Homes priced between $1 million and $10 million used the strategy 78 percent of the time.

Clean neutral spaces

This is the mantra of every flipping house TV show. Keep the spaces neutral, decluttered, and inviting. No personal statements like your political posters, purple walls in memory of Prince, overtly religious symbolism or any reason which might give someone reason for doubt. Also patchwork quilts and sotchkes are definitely out—as are antique furniture, wires, cords, VHS cassettes, dirty clothes, and pets.

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There’s nothing old but money

If your listing has been languishing on the market for 90 days, for Pete’s sake—reduce the price or take it off and re-list it later. No one wants something that’s been looked over and discarded by everyone else.

Words really matter

Prestigious streets and neighborhoods are a big deal in NYC. In Brooklyn gentrification moved from Park Slope down through Prospect Heights and on to Crown Heights, from Clinton Hill to BedStuy and Williamsburg to Bushwick. Listings reflected the neighboring affluent area rather than the gentrifying one.

Politics are also a delicate subject to step around. In liberal leaning New York Stephen Kliegerman, of Halstead Property Development Marketing tells DNAInfo, the word “huge” is definitely out.

Everyone wants to be in with the in crowd

Celebrities help sell houses. Although a listing may not mention a star by name, it may mention the fact that A-List celebs live in that neighborhood—especially if the buyers are young and hip. However, if it’s an older buyer, the opposite applies—quiet and historic might be more fitting. Also, cultural sensitivity goes a long way. Chinese buyers consider the number “four” unlucky, so it would be left off a listing by an astute seller. “Seven” is also an unlucky number generally. Homes with “777” as their address sell for 2.1 percent less than their estimated value.

Buzz words

“Tree lined” counts for a lot in NYC. Also “brownstone” and “landmarked” carry a lot of weight. House flipper Robyn Thompson advisers sellers never to use the word “remodeled” for fears of a bad rehab. Instead, she prefers the words “mint” and “pristine”. In the suburbs, accentuating a short commute is important and is ease of transportation. “If you’re moving to a place far away from your friends, but it has nicer stuff, it’s not a great deal for your happiness,” Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia told the Wall Street Journal.

Stay close to a Starbucks

It’s a fact. Starbucks helps sell houses. The NY Post revealed that the average U.S. home appreciated 65 percent to $168,000 over the last 15 years but property next to Starbucks skyrockets 96 percent to $269,000. Time to buy some shares.

More than the air freezes In December

Good luck if you plan on listing a home around the holidays. In New York, the worst time to sell is the second week of December (listings sold for 2.8 percent less than average). The best time is March, when homes sold faster and for two percent more. Conversely, winter may be a good time to buy—less competition.

Serious about selling?  Hire a woman

Whether it’s because men are often the buyers of houses is unclear, but women do a much better job of moving homes nationally than men. Female agents tend to sell homes faster and for higher prices.

Street names  matter

Ever wondered why inspirational or getaway names like Sunset or Lake or addresses which have a “court”, “meadow” or “way” after them are so popular in newer developments? Because, Zillow data shows, street names with Lake or Sunset will sell upwards of 16 percent higher. Suffixes with “Street” have the lowest home values of $183,120 nationally. Way which has the highest home values averaging around $312,000.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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