So … Why Do People Move?

moving mess

So … Why Do People Move?

This post is a discussion of the question, Why do people move? It originally was posted as the feature article in the February issue of Harmonious Home Adventures, Debra Barrett Real Estate’s monthly journey into the world of real estate sales, staging, and redesign.

So … Why Do People Move? And What Difference Does It Make?

Moving Mess

The number one consideration in any effort to sell anything is: What does the buyer want?

Notice that I said “want.” Not “need.”

What buyers need may be important – it may be the reason that they’re in the market in the first place. It probably forms the mental checklist that they consult before even looking at a property.

But nine times out of ten, what they want controls what they buy.

Counter-Intuitive Reasons

The reason that most people actually pack up their stuff and move is not what you may think – it’s a little counter-intuitive.

When you think about why most people move, you think of things like a transfer for a new job or better schools or a change in financial circumstance. But the research tells a different story.

It’s because they want something different.

A recent US Census Bureau report divided the reasons people move into three broad categories:

• Housing Related (e.g., wanted more space)
• Job Related (e.g., a transfer) and
• Family Related (e.g., a change in marital status)

I’ve listed these in their order of importance. Almost half of the people surveyed moved for Housing Related reasons. A large number of those did so just because they wanted something different.

Bigger. Smaller. Better neighborhood. More energy efficient.

Whatever the motivation, the point is that the move was prompted more by desire than by need.

The Takeaway

Since most people actually move because of what they want, it stands to reason that – even if they’re moving because they feel that they have to – they’re far more likely to end up buying what they want. They’ll sign the contract on the home that appeals to their desires.

To sell your house, make it the home that they want.

So … What Do They Want?

Pretty Kitchen

A couple of years ago, REALTOR Magazine published a study by the Demand Institute showing the top ten things that people were looking for in a new home. They were:

1. Very energy efficient with lower monthly utility costs
2. Requires little or no renovation or improvements
3. Has an updated kitchen with modern appliances and fixtures
4. A home I can stay in as I get older
5. Home is located in a safe neighborhood with low crime
6. Fits my budget, without requiring sacrifices
7. Offers a lot of privacy from neighbors
8. Has a lot of storage space
9. Has a good landlord that is responsive to maintenance requests
10. Is a good long-term investment

Obviously, this list applies to renters as well as buyers. But if you remove the landlord consideration – which applies only to renters – a full 1/3 of the remaining 9 factors (2, 3, & 8) fit squarely into the “aesthetic” sphere.

(By the way – like I mentioned last month [if you missed it you can find it here] – closets [number 8] are increasingly important.)

Some factors on the list are sort of hybrid. For instance, you can partially address the privacy concern with fencing and landscaping. Installing insulation helps with energy efficiency. And a concern about maintenance isn’t confined to renters – you’ll set your buyers’ minds at ease by making your home appear well-cared for.

You might even consider sweetening the pot by offering to pay for the first year of a home warranty. But that’s a subject for a future issue of Harmonious Home Adventures. We’ll cover it in detail in an upcoming issue.

Most of the factors in the study are things that you have some control over. Satisfying those that appeal more to what your buyers want than what they need may clinch your sale.

And On Top of That

Library area


Last year, the National Association of Realtors profiled home buyers.
There is a lot of fascinating information in this report.

Three of the most interesting items are that 1. buyers are getting older; 2. more buyers are single women; and 3. sales of new, as opposed to existing, homes is down.

This means: 1. More buyers have experience with home ownership and are more likely to know what they want. 2. At the risk of stereotyping, women are typically more attuned to aesthetic appeal and they are a larger share of the buying pool. 3. Your existing home is a bigger piece of the market.

The opportunity is there. Give your buyer what they want and you’ll come out ahead of all those other properties that just meet their needs.

Next month – more adventures in the world of real estate sales, staging and redesign. Until then, remember – 2018 is the year you’re going to love where you live!