A new high-tech study reveals the home features buyers want most, based on their eye movements

Home sellers take note – there is now concrete proof of what buyers want based on a technology that tracks their eye movements

living room with blue velvet sofa
(Image credit: Neptune)

There's so much advice about the features that buyers want that it can be difficult to decide what actually matters if you want to know how to sell a house faster. Do people care about the furniture or not? Do they like personal items or do they want everything neutral? Now we have answers based on...people's eye movements when they browse property listings online. 

New eye-tracking research* has revealed exactly what buyers look for when looking through home listings. The technology was used to see what catches a buyers' attention when scrolling through homes, and what aspects of property listings get ignored, or even put viewers off. Some of these will confirm what you already know, but others may come as a surprise. 

1. Color accents

When flicking through property photos, buyers are drawn to bright colors — as well as any unusual objects. While particularly loud or garish features were found to be off-putting, little flashes of color caught people’s attention and were received positively. 

If looking to make your own listing stand out, you don’t necessarily need to go for something large like a feature wall – buyers are drawn to even small bits of contrast, such as colorful flowers or fruit. A few little touches could get you a lot more attention.

2. Family photos – but not too many

Mixtiles via Kylie M Interiors

(Image credit: Kylie M. Interiors)

Forget everything you've been told about depersonalizing your home when staging it for sale. It turns out that people actually like personal accents in a home, particularly family photos. Study participants often lingered on images where family or personal elements were present. So, don't put all the family photos away – just make sure there aren't too many of them. Find inspiration for arranging your photos in our gallery wall ideas.

3. The furniture

Breegan Jane's coffee table tip

(Image credit: Neptune)

This again may seem illogical, but the study found that people looked at the existing furniture a lot, and the furniture had a large impact on their overall impression of the home — whether it’s included in the property or not. The study found that buyers are often unable to separate a room from the furniture and decorations in it, so if they don’t like them, they will quickly move on. 

4. Floor plans

If your online listing doesn't included a floorplan, you won't get very far. Participants often sought them out quickly after arriving on the page. They checked to see if the listing had a floor plan, then would  view the images, and then return to look at the layout. The more detail you can give about the layout, the better.

5. Clutter

clutter in kitchen

(Image credit: Getty)

If there's mess in your home, buyers will instantly spot it in your images. The testing found that buyers’ eyes are instantly drawn to clutter and that they can form a negative impression instantly, often leading to them leaving the listing. A little cleaning can go a long way. If you're finding it difficult to declutter, try the Marie Kondo tidying up method. 

6. Local area information

This is not strictly about the home itself, but the study found that the participants regularly scrolled to find maps in order to visualise where the property sits compared to nearby amenities — so giving a sense of the area and why it’s a great place to live can make a big difference. Emphasising a good school, access to supermarkets or open places is a major draw, and people actively look for this information. 

* Research data kindly provided by Strike

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

In 2018 Anna moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a special interest in city life, decorating small spaces, and urban gardening.