Do men and women buy real estate differently?

by BY BERNICE ROSS on SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

Do men and women have different buying styles when it comes to purchasing real estate? Psychological research has demonstrated male and female brains definitely differ. What can you do to capitalize on this difference to serve your clients more effectively?

How many times have you heard a woman proclaim, "If he really loved me, he would know how I feel!" or "He never listens to me!"? On the other hand, how many times have you heard an exasperated man say, "I'm not a mind reader!"? The story below vividly illustrates these two points of view:

"I'm 45 and just married for the first time a few months ago. For years I have seen my female colleagues receive beautiful floral arrangements from their husbands or boyfriends on special occasions. Since my birthday was near, I began dropping hints to my new husband about how much I love roses. Whenever a woman at the office received flowers for a special occasion, I always told my husband about it. I dropped so many hints, there was no way he should have missed it. Needless to say, when he didn't send me flowers for my birthday, I was crushed. When I tearfully confronted him, his response was, 'I thought you wanted to plant a rose garden!'"

Almost any woman would have immediately recognized the hints about getting flowers. Why didn't her husband recognize them? The reasons have implications for both your real estate business as well as your personal life.

Brain scientists have long recognized that male and female brains operate differently. For example, researchers monitored brain activity while men and women listened to a story. The results showed that men's brains were active only in their dominant hemisphere (normally the left hemisphere for 90 percent of the population.) In contrast, women had activity in both hemispheres. Some researchers have attributed this to the fact that the structure that joins both cerebral hemispheres (the corpus callosum) is much larger in women than in men. This makes it easier for women to process information using both hemispheres simultaneously.

Furthermore, women also have larger frontal lobes (these control higher-order thinking and decision-making) and larger temporal lobes (these process auditory input and interprets emotions.) Consequently, when a woman says, "He never listens to me," she is partially right -- he listens with only half his brain plus having a smaller proportion of his brain dedicated to interpreting what he is hearing.

So what does all this mean for your real estate business? While no generalization applies to all people, here are three ways these gender differences may show up in your real estate business.

1. Men require specifics
The speaker in the example above pointed out an important point about men. They are specific and literal. If a woman wants flowers on her birthday, she needs to be direct: "On my birthday, there had better be two dozen red roses on my desk."

In terms of your real estate business, don't assume that your male buyer understands what you may mean. Be simple, direct and put it in writing. To make sure the communication has taken place, ask him for his understanding of what is involved whether it's a contract or some other aspect of the negotiation.

2. Men bond by competing, women bond by talking
The research shows that men bond by competing, while women bond by talking and sharing stories. To illustrate this point, men use an average of 15,000 words per day, most of which are at work. Women use about 25,000 words per day, most of which are at home. Men use words to accomplish goals. Women talk to relax.

Consequently, when you work with men, remember that they listen literally. Be concise. Provide them with details regarding financing, comparable sales, commute times, etc. Also keep in mind that they are competitive. Avoid confronting them, especially on money issues. Instead, provide them with as much data as possible and let them win by having the last word.

In contrast, most women enjoy sharing stories about the area, interesting tidbits about local events, or even what's in the tabloids. The conversation and shopping are important components in the homebuying process.

3. Women go shopping, men go buying
This is the difference between a process orientation (in other words, enjoying the entire journey) as opposed to a goal orientation (being focused on the end destination.) Women will spend hours shopping for the right shoes or piece of clothing. Most men normally walk into a store, pick out what they want, and are often done buying in 20 minutes or less.

Since most females enjoy the shopping process, many will want to see everything before they make a decision. To avoid wasting your valuable time, don't take a married woman out to see a lot of property unless her husband is also present. This is one of the best strategies to severely limit the "I-want-to-see-everything" shopping behavior.

Because of their goal orientation, men also tend to view time differently from women. Again, the time involved to shop is often not an issue for most women. In contrast, men will allocate a certain amount of time for a task.

For example, if you have allocated two hours to showing property and you run 30 minutes over, most men will be angry or frustrated because they probably had already allocated something else to that time slot. In contrast, if you show the buyers the five houses you planned on showing them and end early, you'll get kudos for being prepared and well-organized.

If you want to turn more shoppers into homeowners, paying attention to gender differences and adjusting your selling style to match that of your clients is one of the best ways to do it.

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