You found what you think is the right house. The bank approved you. The lender secured your loan with just five percent down. You've got your closing costs together and you've lined up your movers. But are you really making the right move?
Turns out, a simple personality test might help you figure it out.
A study titled "Real Estate and Personality" from the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics shined a light on the relationship between personality and buyer decisions, suggesting "that a person's personality traits are predictive of his or her real estate decisions" said Lakeside Real Estate Group. "Researchers gave more than 1,100 respondents a personality-assessment test, asking them to rate themselves on several personality traits."
Those traits are based on the Five Factor Model (FFM), "a widely examined theory of five broad dimensions used by some psychologists to describe the human personality and psyche," said Wikipedia. "The five factors have been defined as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism."
Employers and universities use the FFM to screen applicants, and now it's being used for a new purpose.
Are you a saver or a spender? Do you have a tendency to buy more than you can afford or do you always live comfortably within your means? Does the idea of an adjustable rate loan give you anxiety? Being able to assess your personality can help determine how you behave as a homeowner—or if you even become one.
About the study
Among the 1,110 questions in the study, participants were asked to rate themselves on personality traits related to the FFM, including: "openness (e.g. artistic and imaginative); conscientiousness (efficient and organized); extroversion (sociable and energetic); agreeableness (forgiving and undemanding); and neuroticism (tense and moody)," said Lakeside.
The next step was learning more about their real estate preferences—mortgage offerings, whether they preferred to buy or rent, and investment strategies—controlled by factors including age, gender, income, and education.
"The results showed ‘a very solid correlation' between personality and real estate choices, co-author Danny Ben-Shahar, a professor at Tel Aviv University, told The Wall Street Journal," said the National Association of Realtors®. "High scorers of neuroticism, for example, showed a preference for home ownership over renting and tend to opt for mortgages with lower loan-to-value ratio — likely because neurotic people tend to be more averse to risk, Ben-Shahar says. Meanwhile, respondents who scored high on agreeableness or extroversion, as well as conscientiousness, showed a preference for investing in real estate over stocks. Researchers speculate that conscientious people are more willing to postpone gratification and likely to make a less-risky investment while also diversifying their portfolio."
Other results showed that "efficient, organized, thorough, diligent and detail oriented" people were well matched with fixed-rate mortgages.
Want to take the FFM personality test? Click here.