Online agency Strike has used specialist eye-tracking software to analyse what attracts a buyer’s attention when scrolling through homes online — and what aspects of home get missed, or even put viewers off.
The experiment was very small - it involved just three participants viewing four properties each - but the exercise has produced eight areas of interest.
1. Contrasting colours: Little flashes of colour caught people’s attention and were received positively. Strike says: “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: Despite the general advice to avoid personalising a property being viewed, Strike says the 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: “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. “If the first image didn’t make an impression many participants simply skimmed over the property and clicked away quickly.”
6. Clutter: “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.”
7. Image quality: 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.