The Endowment Effect and Organizing

Services for Real Estate Pros with Casual Uncluttering LLC

Sometimes our brains are scary. The Endowment Effect is a good example. I'm quoting from the mini-encyclopedia of

"This bias occurs when we overvalue something that we own, regardless of its objective market value (Kahneman et al., 1991). It is evident when people become relatively reluctant to part with a good they own for its cash equivalent, or if the amount that people are willing to pay for the good is lower than what they are willing to accept when selling it. Put more simply, people place a greater value on things once they have established ownership. This is especially true for things that wouldn’t normally be bought or sold on the market, usually items with symbolic, experiential, or emotional significance. Endowment effect research has been conducted with goods ranging from coffee mugs (Kahneman et al., 1990) to sports cards (List, 2011). While researchers have proposed different reasons for the effect, it may be best explained by psychological factors related to loss aversion (Ericson & Fuster, 2014)."


In simpler terms - we touches it, we wants it, my precious. Organizers have recognized this for years and years and years. We have a strategy for combating it with our clients: we might stand at the waaaaaaay far end of a room, holding an item weeeeelllllll out of our client's reach, asking for the item on display "Keep it or let it go?" It works, promise. If the client hesitates, we'll offerprompts: "Do you still use it?" "How often?" "How do you use it?" and a gazillion others until someone reaches a conclusion or realizes s/he/they truly can't decide yet.


Well, I'm delighted to announce I just learned another technique, because of my collaboration in a recent Redfin article, The Ultimate Room-by-Room Decluttering Checklist | Redfin. My clever colleague Cassie Thompson of Serene Spaces suggests that people who want to break the emotional ties try wearing gloves as s/he/they touch the things. BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely brilliant.


And never put it in its pocketses.

Comments (6)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Lauren - I wonder if glove-wearing is counter-productive or if I'm simply shelving another solution?   

May 06, 2023 06:32 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

@Michael Jacobs Apologies, I wasn't clear - the owner wears the gloves. Creates a physical barrier which translates to an emotional barrier. Lauren

May 06, 2023 06:49 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

I agree with Michael. Have a wonderful Saturday, Bill 

May 06, 2023 06:43 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

Bill Salvatore - East Valley Apologies, I wasn't clear - the owner wears the gloves. Creates a physical barrier which translates to an emotional barrier. Lauren

May 06, 2023 06:50 AM
Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

So many times, a clients will labor over something in their house that is hideous but needs to be removed to allow their home to better appreciated. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

May 06, 2023 01:51 PM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

Ed Silva Agreed!!! Lauren

May 06, 2023 06:47 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO I have to admit that I have a few items that this would apply to.

May 06, 2023 04:17 PM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

George Souto Completely human! Lauren

May 06, 2023 06:48 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Isn't it interesting how we can give inanimate objects so much power?!  I couldn't part with an old robe I had that I only used to cover my arms when I read in bed. I didn't even buy it and for the life of me, I don't know how I got it. 

May 06, 2023 06:26 PM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

Kathy Streib I think that's sweet. I have a weakness for robes myself. Lauren

May 06, 2023 06:48 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I have one coffee cup I wouldn't sell no matter what because my mom gave it to me in 2011 as a Christmas present a month before Christmas because she knew she wouldn't make it until Christmas and she wanted me to think of her regularly (as if I wasn't going to do that anyway!).

I have another coffee cup I wouldn't want to sell because I like the shape and I use it every day for my morning coffee. It'll break eventually.

All the other ones can be bought for less than their value!


Enough about me. I think the gloves is a great idea!

May 07, 2023 05:18 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO

Kat Palmiotti I have a BUNCH of mugs I use for other things, like plants, in a desperate attempt to extend their lives. I've got others I've forced myself to say "If it breaks, it breaks." EVERYONE has items like that, whether it's mugs, photos, stuffed animals. We're human. Lauren

May 07, 2023 07:08 AM