Rickitt Partnership

Emotion or logic – the psychology of house purchasing


Here at Rickitt Partnership we have been giving some thought to the motivating factors which influence our choice of property. It is a fascinating subject, which brings into play the nuances of human psychology. Being the most significant purchase most of us will ever make one would think that the decision to buy a property would be based entirely on logic and, whilst we all have a hit list of “must haves” – location, number of bedrooms, the size of the garden, a garage, catchment area for a particular school etc…. ultimately the actual decision to buy is, more often than not, based predominantly on an emotional response to the property.

The topic came up for discussion in the office after we saw an interesting piece in the Property & Living section of a recent edition of the Chester Chronicle.  The article focused on the importance of external renovation to give your home that all important “kerb appeal”.  It cited research which found a third of people will pay 25% more if they are impressed by the front door, brickwork, garden and windows of a property. 

attractive country house


This might seem too obvious to merit discussion – as the Irish proverb says, first impressions are the most lasting, but is it a paradox that the exterior of a property is so important to most of us?  After all we will spend far more of our time inside any property we choose to buy or rent especially if the UK weather has anything to do with it!  But for some reason the outside of the home elicits an emotional reaction that often overrides logic.

attractive contemporary style apartment building

beautiful thatched cottage

So why are those first impressions so deep?  Psychologists call it Primacy Effect – our brains make initial formative judgements and once made, these are difficult to change.  As far as our brains are concerned, you are what you seem to be - a house is well presented or a “fixer upper”.  Of course, a vendor who cares how their house looks on the outside is likely to have taken care of it and will therefore pass on a well-maintained property.  If you are one of those visionary people who looks beyond less favourable first impressions to be able to visualise what an unloved house could become with the right care (and perhaps the right builder), your diamond in the rough may turn out to be a goldmine.  The debate will, no doubt, continue but all I’ll say is that I bought my present home for its stained glass front door….. 



About the author

Emma Rickitt

Emma Rickitt

Emma started her working life at English Heritage’s London HQ, then went to work at a large City law firm where she gained her law degree, she then worked in a number of legal jobs including at a branding consultancy where she specialised in intellec…

View Full Profile