Psychologist, Barry Schwartz authored a book called The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (2004). In it he makes the case that having choice is a good thing as it contributes to one’s freedom and autonomy. Too much choice, however, can be counterproductive and “a source of pain, regret, worry about missed opportunities and unrealistically high expectations.”
In a 2013 Home Features Survey by the National Association of Realtors, here is how buyer satisfaction with the home purchased broke down: 63% were very satisfied; yet 34% were only somewhat satisfied and 3% were somewhat dissatisfied. In another NAR study, buyers typically said they looked for a home for 12 weeks and viewed 10 homes.
Yet salespeople report showing 25, 30 and even 40 homes to some buyers, and buyers might postpone buying. Viewing too many homes can be a symptom of a number of issues:
- Having no clear focus on the type of home to buy within an affordable price. This distracts a buyer to view a large selection of homes in a wide range of prices and styles—a very scattered approach to buying.
- Having unrealistically high expectations.
- Finding criticism with every home without seeing the positives, an aspect of perfectionism that results in buying paralysis.
- Anticipated buyer remorse before a purchase. Barry Schwartz calls it anticipated regret. The buyer cannot make a buying decision and passes up on one or more suitable homes for fear that a better one might come along.
- Buyer remorse after the purchase. Schwartz also points out that too many choices can cause regret after a purchase is made. That’s because the purchase lacks a feature included in one of the inferior choices that was passed up.
- Not having a strong enough reason to buy resulting in an endless search without ever making a buying decision.
- The REALTOR® failed to ask questions about motivation to buy: time frame (when), intended length of ownership. As well, a re-evaluation of a buyer’s wants, needs and what features they are willing to compromise on can go a long way to removing this roadblock.
- The buyer reaches a point of information overload, becomes overwhelmed and does not buy out of frustration and discouragement.
Maximizers and Satisficers
Schwartz points out that there are two types of buyers.
- Maximizers look at an endless array of choices and end up dissatisfied.
- Satisficers, on the other hand, establish a preset standard and buy on finding a home that meets their criteria. Satisficers are happier and more satisfied with their purchase.