I couldn't resist sharing an excerpt from Sanette Tanka's story in the Wall Street Journal that summarizes new research about the importance of first impressions.

"Researchers tracking the eye movements of subjects who looked at online home listings found that more than 95% of users viewed the first photo—the one that shows the exterior of the home—for a total of 20 seconds. After that, their eyes tended to flit all over the screen, according to Michael Seiler, founder and director of the Institute for Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate at Old Dominion University at Norfolk, Va. "Without an eye-catching photo, the battle is lost before it begins," Prof. Seiler says. "You have to grab people's attention within two seconds. Do it the way a billboard does."

Following the home-exterior photo, Prof. Seiler found that 76% of participants viewed the property description—things like the size and number of bedrooms/bathrooms—second. Real-estate agents' remarks, which can be a turnoff if they contain all-capital text, hyped-up adjectives and brand names, were the most overlooked—41.5% of home buyers didn't view them at all.

Understanding how people view a listing online can help agents refine their approach. "For a lot of people, the first point of contact with a house is through the Internet," Prof. Seiler says."

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