The Sentimental Journey of Buying a Home
Prospective homeowners go through a gauntlet of mixed emotions. Your marketing should reflect it.
Buying a home has to do with so much more than money. Of the 19 motives for home buying outlined in the 2020 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Homebuyer and Seller Generational Trends survey, nine began with the word “desire,” and only three had anything to do with money. People certainly buy homes with a combination of head and heart, but when you look at the numbers, it’s a whole lot more heart than head.
Home buying is a wildly emotional process, a roller coaster of feelings. One doesn’t simply buy a home, you endure and fight for it. It starts with an ideal: an image of the perfect home, replete with space for furniture and memories; safety and security. When it comes time to make the ideal real, joy gives way to all kinds of stress. The process of getting a mortgage is the great mountain one must climb to claim their ideal image. For marketers to connect with homebuyers means meeting them on this emotional level, demonstrating you understand not only what it costs, but how it feels to buy a home.
LUDWIG+ is a believer in emotional marketing. Particularly with home buying season upon us, and prospective buyers hoping to capitalize on still-low (but gradually rising) mortgage rates. There’s never been a better time to infuse your messaging with emotion — once more, now, with feeling.
Phase I: Great Expectations
Starting is easy; starting is fun. Whether it’s buying a home, opening a book, or beginning a new relationship, starting starts with an open and fresh mind, a shining image, a dream of perfection, anticipatory joy.
Homes are where we spent the majority of our time. They’re where we experience many of life’s most meaningful moments alongside the people we love. When imagining the perfect home, what we’re imagining is a cradle for that meaning, a nest of intimacy.
That image quickly takes a backseat to the stressors of the hunt, but it never goes away. It’s the prize on which buyers keep their eyes, and as such, it ought to be the centerpiece of your messaging.
Phase II: Judgment
Before they can begin the home search in earnest, buyers must get pre-approved for a mortgage. This means submitting to a process of judgment, which is always accompanied by some level of stress. We’ve been judged since grade school — judgment connects to our earliest, most enduring conceptions of self-worth.
If pre-approved, buyers become joyous; if rejected, buyers may become morose. They may have to adjust their expectations and/or their lifestyles, depending on how the pre-approval verdict impacts their goals. If they qualify for less than expected, buyers may feel like they’re worth less than they thought. While this may not be logically true, it’s has real emotional weight, and should therefore have an impact on how you design your messaging.
Phase III: The Thrill of the Search
Searching for a home comes with a resurgence of anticipation: Buyers have cleared that crucial first hurdle and are beginning to walk through houses. Each house they visit could be a potential home. That dining room could host generations of Thanksgivings; that little room on the second floor could be a nursery. Life and love could grow here. As they evaluate, they’ll imagine how each house will meet their and their family’s needs — in sum, how each house will make them feel. There’s a strong visceral reaction when you walk into the house that feels like home, sometimes in as little as 8 seconds, you just know.
But with the thrill comes a worry — a worry that, upon finding a home that feels perfect, someone else will beat them to the punch. The underbelly of thrill is anxiety. Homebuyers want to understand that their partners are equally committed to reeling in that big fish, turning the home of their dreams into a reality. To meet them there, infuse your messaging with familial warmth.
Phase IV: The Waiting (Is the Hardest Part)
Upon committing to a home, buyers have to undergo a good deal of waiting. There’s the appraisal, where buyers wait to see what an expert thinks the home is really worth. There’s the inspection — or the inspections — where buyers wait to see if the home needs any work to make it safe and functional. And there’s the underwriting, where buyers wait to see whether they qualify for a loan. If pre-approval went well, it stands to reason that underwriting will, too. But it doesn’t necessarily stand to emotion.
They can see the finish line; they can taste the champagne. Having to wait for all these different evaluators to approve that final dash can be excruciating. Helping buyers understand that this nervousness is natural is key to effective messaging.
Phase V: The Celebration
After all this time, all this labor — physical, financial, and emotional — and all this anxiety, there are no more powerful words than “clear to close.” Buyers finally get to sign on the dotted line, formally committing to a home. It’s a moment of extreme relief, in which buyers experience an avalanche of positive emotions, highlighted by an anchoring sense of closure.
Even still, questions linger in buyers’ minds: Did we make the right choice? While the fact that they completed this process likely means the answer is, “Yes, of course,” the question arises from fear of the unknown — in this case, the future. It begets many other similar questions: Will this home make us happy? Will my family have the space they need? Will we be safe here?
The cognitive dissonance of relief and anxiety percolates as buyers begin their new lives in their new homes. If you can inspire confidence in buyers, helping them feel secure in this major life decision, you’ll resonate as a trusted voice.
A Sentimental Journey
Home buying may have logical roots, but it’s an overwhelmingly emotional process. Money is a crucial part of it, but money can be counted. Emotions can’t be quantified, they can only be worked through and nurtured by critical partners in the home buying journey.
LUDWIG+ is made up of empaths who understand how to connect with homebuyers on that emotional level. We understand the motives that compel people to become homeowners, and we design our messaging for emotional resonance. We help build valuable brands that meet people where it matters most — in the heart, which, as the saying goes, is in the home.
For more information on how to use emotional marketing to grow your business, contact us today.