Eye-tracking study reveals the eight things house buyers actually look for

With a flurry of buyer interest expected ahead of the Stamp Duty holiday ending in June, new eye-tracking research1 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 home get missed, or even put viewers off.

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

1) Contrasting colours

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.

If looking to make your own listing stand out, you don’t necessarily need to go for something large, like a feature wall – buyers are drawn to even small bits of contrast, such as colourful flowers or fruit. A few little touches could get you a lot more attention.

2) People and faces

Another feature that caught the eye were little human touches, like family photos or personal decorations. But it’s important not to overdo the personalization, which can make it hard for buyers to visualise the property as their own  — but study participants often lingered on images where these family or personal elements were present.

3) Furnishings

People immediately look at how rooms are furnished and, perhaps most interestingly, the furniture has a large impact on their overall impression of the home — whether it’s included in 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.

4) Floor plans

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 then return to look at the layout.

5) Main image

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. It will always be the first thing people see, so it needs to stand out. If the first image didn’t make an impression many participants simply skimmed over the property and clicked away quickly.

6) Clutter

Size matters — and, 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 instantly, often leading to them leaving the listing. A little cleaning can go a long way.

7) Image quality

High quality images are essential as viewers showed a strong aversion to photos that are blurred or unclear. Participants quickly clicked off poor images and the negative impression formed could easily influence how they viewed the property.

8) Local information

While the majority of attention was focused on the properties themselves, participants often also looked for information about the local areas. They regularly scrolled to find maps in order to visualise where the property sits compared to nearby amenities — so giving a sense of the area and why it’s a great place to live can make a big difference.

Jonathan Magill, UK Network Director at Strike, said: “The ultimate aim of listing your property online is to make it look attractive to as many potential buyers as possible and our research has identified the best way to do that.

“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.”

For more information on the research and further expert advice on how to maximise the impact of your online property listing, visit: https://strike.co.uk/latest-news/10-things-buyers-really-look-for-online-listings