Eye Spy


From bright colours to human touches, research identifies what catches a buyer’s eye when viewing houses online

With a flurry of buyer interest expected ahead of the Stamp Duty holiday ending in June, new eye-tracking research has revealed exactly what people look for when browsing property listings online.

Strike, the free online estate agent, used specialist eye-tracking software to discover what attracts a buyer’s attention when scrolling through homes online — and what aspects of the home get missed, or even what puts viewers off.

From the study, Strike has revealed what people actually look for when searching for properties online.

When flicking through property photos, buyers are drawn to bright colours — as well as any unusual objects. While particularly loud or garish features were found to be off-putting, little flashes of colour caught people’s attention and were received positively.

Personal touches, like family photos or selected decorations were seen as a good addition, as longs as the personalization isn’t overdone, which can make it hard for buyers to visualise the property as their own  — study participants often lingered on images where family or personal elements were present.

People immediately look at how rooms are dressed and, perhaps most interestingly, the furniture has a large impact on their overall impression of the home — whether it’s included in the sale of the property or not. The study found that buyers are often unable to separate a room from the furniture and decorations in it, so if they don’t like them, they will quickly move on.

When viewing listings online, floor plans are the best way for buyers to visualise a property’s layout and participants often sought them out quickly after arriving on the page. Participants checked to see if the listing had a floor plan, then would  view the images, and return to look at the layout.

The study found that people form an opinion about properties within the opening two or three seconds — and quickly clicked off a page if their first impression was not positive. This underlines how crucial the main image on each listing is. If the first image didn’t make an impression many participants skimmed over the property and clicked away.

Buyers can be put off if they find it hard to appreciate how big the spaces are. The testing found that buyers’ eyes are instantly drawn to clutter and that they can form a negative impression. A little cleaning can go a long way.

High quality images are essential as viewers showed a strong aversion to photos that are blurred or unclear.

Jonathan Magill, UK Network Director at Strike, said: “The eye-tracking technology revealed exactly what people look at when browsing online and, although everyone prioritises different things, we are naturally drawn to certain things, such as bright colours, whether we realise it or not.”



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