Is Selling Your House Like Online Dating?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Suplari, Inc.

Married CoupleSurprisingly, yes!  Online dating and selling your house have many similarities.

On my run this morning, I listened to my favorite podcast Freakonomics.  This week's episode is called "What You Don't Know About Online Dating," a replay of a 2014 episode.   Stephen Dubner interviews a Stanford Professor named Paul Oyer who has written a book called "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating."  

It's a good listen and I encourage you to take 30 minutes to listen to the episode.  

Now that home listings and real estate is an online search, I thought through his recommendations and wonder are there lessons that home sellers can takeaway from his analysis of online dating?

6 Key Takeaways

  1. Know Your Goals. Just like online dating, it is important to start with the end in mind.  
    • For sellers, are you trying to maximize price, speed to close, find a great family for your house, etc.?  
    • For buyers, are you buying for investment, capital appreciation, school district, neighborhood, more space, less space, emotional satisfaction, etc?
  2. Understand Your Competition.  Competition drives pricing and demand.  Really understanding how attractive you or your house is to the market is critical to success.
    • Sellers: What other homes are on the market or potentially on the market?  How does my home compare and how is my home priced?  What differentiates my home versus the others?
    • Buyers: How attractive am I as a buyer?  Am I pre-approved?  How quickly do I need to move?  How quickly are homes moving on and off the market?
  3. Should I be Picky or Selective?  Depending on your goals, your criteria, and your market, you may need to make more compromises or you can be selective.  Is there is less competition? Do you need to need to make a quick decision, or maybe you have plenty of time since there is a long time before your lease is up?

  4. Home for SaleFind a "Thick" Marketplace.  You want to list your house and be searching for a house where the most houses are listed AND the most home buyers are searching.   List your home on on the biggest websites.  In this way, the most home buyers will see your house and consider it as a potential purchase.

  5. Use the Best Search Engine.  In relation to #4, some home sellers or real estate agents would argue that using a niche site may be better, similar to using a niche dating site.  Oyer argues that what you really want is the biggest site with the most home buyers and the most homes for sale, BUT you want the best search engine to customize and filter your results. 

    In his words related to online dating,  Paul Oyer says, "But just think about a boardwalk. And at one end of the boardwalk is people who are completely incompatible for you, with you for one reason. At the other end of the boardwalk is people who are completely incompatible for you for another reason. And you’re right in the middle of this boardwalk.  And then think of all the women who might be in your potentially in your market as being evenly distributed along this boardwalk, where the ones that happen to be right next to you are perfect fits for you, or very good fits for you. And the ones at the extreme are not. Well, obviously the more women on that boardwalk the better you are. But if you don’t know exactly where they are on the boardwalk…then the more women there are the more problematic it is. So if the technology is good enough to show you here are the 10 women who are really close to what you’re looking for that’s way better than going to a city where the whole boardwalk only has 10 people. And it’s easy to play the whole field of that boardwalk, but the chances that any of those women would be a good fit for you would be not nearly as good. So this is what we call a thick market effect. And it does have the opposite problem that thicker markets lead to more costs of screening all the potential candidates. And if the software can do that for you, you’d be better off."

  6. The More Detail, The Better ... Generally:  In general, providing more detail on your house is better than less in terms of helping find the right buyer and the right price.  

Interesting analysis.  I am going to get Oyer's book to learn more.  

Photo Credits: Karli & Jonathan from Zoosk,  Casa Bonita Sherwood CC, Flickr Creative Commons


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Nikesh Parekh

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Will Nesbitt 03/23/2015 03:41 AM
  2. Joy Bender 04/01/2016 02:36 PM
Home Selling
Diary of a Realtor
Best Practices
home selling
online dating

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Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Great analogy.  I remember that episode, and it was a great one.  and, yes, there are ways to streamline the process.

Mar 22, 2015 04:32 AM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wow, everything I learned about economics, a couple of degrees, was before on line dating!

Hope I learned something...

; >)

Says he with a wink and a grin.

Mar 22, 2015 08:43 AM #2
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Never tried online dating. Maybe I could learn something. Wonder if it overpriced like lots of listings I see.

Mar 22, 2015 11:20 AM #3
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Interesting. And while I wouldn't necessarily call it "on line dating" I did meet my Donald in chat room in 1998, that worked out wonderfully for both of us. 

Mar 22, 2015 01:12 PM #4
Nikesh Parekh
Suplari, Inc. - Seattle, WA
Technology Entrepreneur, Executive, & Investor

Online dating meets economics!  Is real estate next?

Mar 22, 2015 01:20 PM #5
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Nikesh -- I think you may be on to something here.  Online dating meets economics... real estate very well could be next. 

Mar 22, 2015 02:05 PM #6
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

I totally agree with Oyer for online dating and with you for marketing a house, that the bigger the site population, the better. For one, the selection of participants is much broader, and for the other, there are more eyeballs taking a gander and hopefully one of them buys it.

Mar 22, 2015 02:30 PM #7
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Niki - I can't say that I would have considered them similar though I can now see your pointl

Mar 22, 2015 03:24 PM #8
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I agree that this is a little weird, but weird control long way and you learn something from it.

Mar 22, 2015 04:01 PM #9
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Shopping around on mine is quite similar. It's much easier to comparison-shop and pinpoint what you need and have the whole basis for the modern Internet you have the basis of the Internet.

Mar 22, 2015 04:25 PM #10
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Never quite thought of it that way but since you did relate them together that way, I guess I'd agree! 

Mar 22, 2015 07:37 PM #11
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

You bring up great points and a great piece of advice

Mar 22, 2015 09:31 PM #12
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Certainly, a very interesting analogy you've set forth here, Nikesh. Not coming from a generation where on-line dating was even a glimmer in anyone's mind, it's hard for me to relate to that process.

Mar 22, 2015 10:12 PM #13
Emily Medvec Qualifying Broker
Hello Realty - Santa Fe, NM
Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Nikesh a truly fascinating post. I did grad work in economics before I could even ask Google anything or send a message without a stamp. Economics was rooted in demand and supply and behavior predictable! Now I am going to reread Freakonomics and track down the podcast series. I will let you know what happens when I add the words "online dating" and analogy to today's listing presentation.

Mar 22, 2015 10:25 PM #14
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Nikki, I do agree...always amazed at the real estate agents that put 1 picture and no real description of the home and the seller just does not get it!  I see dating as similar but buying a house is much

Mar 22, 2015 10:28 PM #15
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

All I can say is verify those numbers...They may be under or over

Mar 22, 2015 11:51 PM #16
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Nikesh Parekh - now that's a different way to look at it (or compare!)

Yes, wider the selection, better it is! So limiting to niche sites may have impact, being everywhere is more effective for sure.

Mar 24, 2015 12:27 PM #17
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

Let's not forget how important curb appeal is. 

Mar 24, 2015 01:25 PM #18
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

No wonder, I'm not dating...:) I do not want even to think about my competition and I know too well my ''marketplace''.

Apr 02, 2016 05:14 PM #19
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Technology Entrepreneur, Executive, & Investor
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