If you could only see things through their own eyes, you might have a better understanding of what homebuyers are really looking for in a home.
An experiment described in an article in House Beautiful recently actually did just that. It was no speculative or subjective survey but one that used technically advanced eye-tracking hardware that actively tracked the direction in which the viewer was looking and the features in a home that caught and attracted their eye.
It's no make-believe sci-fi either. Companies such as Tobii are already promoting eye-tracking hardware and software for a multitude of marketing and user research purposes.
So, the tracking equipment mentioned by House Beautiful followed home viewers’ eyes as they took in all manner of things such as radiators, cupboards, beds, ovens, lighting, and even details like scatter cushions and throws in the sitting room.
In which direction – and for what reasons – did eyes stray the most when encountering a new home?
Believe it or not, one of the first things spotted by the participants in the House Beautiful experiment were the radiators. The explanation is really quite simple. If you enter a home during the autumn or winter, you’ll want to know that the heating systems are working well – and your eyes are drawn to the radiators as the first evidence you’ll see of such a system in place.
Another relative surprise was the way viewers seemed to respond to cupboards throughout the house.
Once their eyes had locked onto it, they were drawn to the cupboard and invariably reached out to open the door – although the reasons for that behaviour could be many and varied:
- perhaps they wanted to make sure that the doors opened and closed as smoothly as they should;
- maybe they wanted to check how well the cupboard was made;
- was it going to be big enough for their needs – to put away the shopping or store other household items, for example; or
- perhaps they were just plain nosy and wanted to see what you kept in your cupboards.
Either way, if your home is up for sale and you are inviting viewers in, it might be a good idea to make sure that the contents are kept orderly and tidy.
Another strange eye-catcher might be the bed in the bedroom – strange because it’s a piece of furniture you’ll be taking with you when you leave.
Yet a surprising number of visitors were nevertheless seen eyeing up the bed – with one or two of them even sitting on the edge of it to test out its comfort.
Although you would have made the beds anyway with visitors coming, you might want to take a little more care about it if you know they are going to be attracting so much attention.
Just when you thought it was going to be the entire kitchen makeover that caught the eye, believe it or not, home viewers might be most interested in the taps above the kitchen sink.
Apparently, attention is drawn to the taps because house-hunters want to reassure themselves that the water pressure is adequate and as it should be. A strange priority, you might think, but if it’s the case, you may want to give the taps an extra buff and polish.
Still in the kitchen – and with viewers whose hands seemed to wander as much as their eyes – the oven stole anxious glances. Eyes tracked towards the oven and visitors’ hands even went so far as to turn it on to satisfy themselves that the appliance worked as it should.
So, you might want to be sure the oven is thoroughly cleaned before arranging the next viewing.
Visitors were most likely to look up towards the light fittings if the room appeared darker than they would like, and they were tempted to flick the switch to make sure that the lights actually worked.
You might want to leave the lights on so that viewers can see their way around and catch the detail they are after – especially if some rooms are naturally dimmer than others.
Finally, there is one question that arises from viewing the property that seems entirely reasonable – visitors may ask whether there is access to a garden?
Access to a garden is the third most important aspect for any home, according to this year’s Rightmove survey published on the 21st of April.
In the eye-tracking experiment, visitors looked out onto the garden as soon as they came into the room overlooking it. They then went to check how the patio doors or French windows opened – the garden offering much-needed extra space and room for movement these days.