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The Psychology of First Impressions When Selling Your Home

Psychologists say that we make up our minds about a person within the first fifteen seconds of meeting them. And the same is true when viewing a house. It’s likely a prospective buyer will have made up their mind before they’ve even walked through your front door. So making sure that first impression is the right one is all important.

A lot has been written about how to style the interior of your house – the smell of coffee floating through the air, the use of mirrors so the buyer can literally see themselves there. But not much is said about the front exterior. Which could in reality be what makes or breaks your sale.

The key is to think like a buyer. Get inside their head and see your home through their eyes, starting with before they’ve even left their own.

Pre viewing

Even before a potential buyer has come to see your house, the first thing they are likely to do is view photos of your property online. Even the look of the outside of your house can put someone off or draw them in. So take a photo of your house as it is and ask yourself “what do you see?” Have a look at your real estate agent’s current listings and check the quality of their photography. If it isn’t up to scratch take the time to take some yourself or even get a friend or family member to help; it could mean the difference between ten viewings and none. Always use photos taken on a sunny day, the light will make your property look much more appealing.

Pavement appeal

Next, think about the approach to your house. As the buyer walks towards your house they will be asking themselves ‘could I live here?’ So you need to do everything you can to make that answer a resounding ‘Yes’. Go outside and approach your house as a buyer would. What do they see? The broken fence, the cracked paving stones and how about that ugly old door? The major elements to focus on are the walkway up to your house, the front door and any random ornaments. As mentioned below you need to depersonalise each space including the front garden and walkway.

The door is a different matter entirely, if you can’t update your current one (paint, strip etc) to the necessary standards definitely consider replacing it. Make sure the new one is of the same period and isn’t a garish colour; green is usually advisable according to REMAX, otherwise look at other equivalent properties in the area for pointers.

From here on in, the rules to styling the outside of your house are exactly the same as they are inside. De-clutter and Depersonalise.


With less than a minute to make a great impression you have to make sure nothing gets in the way. Move the rubbish bins or recycling tubs out of the way. Tidy up your garden and clear out any detritus. If it’s covered in weeds, take the time to pull them all up and perhaps think about putting pebbles down. They’re a cheap alternative to pavements and can hide a multitude of sins. And finally make sure you clear out your gutters – a prospective buyer is going to notice if they’re full of leaves.


You want to make it as easy as possible for the buyers to envision themselves coming home to your house every day. So remove anything that could act as a barrier to their imagination. If possible, move your car so they can picture their own car in the drive. And if you have any decorations in your front garden make sure they could be of everyone’s tastes. Sorry, but those cute gnomes have to go. Make the styling neutral and fresh and clean.

Once you’ve gone to the effort of giving your house great kerb appeal, make sure whoever is showing the buyers around brings them in through a specific pre-defined route rather than round the back. Or it will have all been for nothing!

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