When close to 90% of consumers go online to look at real estate and research potential agents, your website is more often then not the first point of contact with a potential client. We have all heard the saying “first impressions are important” and it turns out that it could not be more true, especially for real estate agents. What makes purchasing real estate unique is the fact that it will probably be the largest single purchase a consumer will make in their lifetime, which puts it in a different league than say, buying a tube of toothpaste. This makes the first impression even more important as it can create something called ‘the halo effect’:

“The halo effect is a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i.e. a characteristic of a person or object [or website]) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent [or judging a real estate agent as more capable because their website is well designed and layed out].”

What this means is that if your website is designed well and has quality content, it will have a positive effect on future relations with the client. On the flip-side, a negative impression can have a long lasting detrimental effect that may even be impossible to turn around:

“First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust,” said study researcher Robert Lount of Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “If you get off on the wrong foot, the relationship may never be completely right again. It’s easier to rebuild trust after a breach if you already have a strong relationship.”

It is no longer OK for an agent to simply ‘have’ a website. Not only do you have to stand out in the incredibly competitive Vancouver market but you have to ensure that you get that positive first impression. This is going to become more and more important as time goes on and the world becomes more integrated with technology and the web.

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Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and lead researcher of the paper expressed her surprise at the results.

“My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds,” she told the website of the Nature journal, which reported the research.

The judgements were being formed almost as quickly as the eye can take in information.

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