The Reptilian Brain and How to Use It

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How many brains do you have?

According to Clotaire Rapaille’s research, everyone has two–the cortical, which is logic-based, and the reptilian, which handles our most basic of instincts (e.g. feeding, reproduction, and fight/flight). But what does any of that have to do with real estate?

Inman connects the dots for us:

There’s an old adage that buyers are liars. The truth of the matter is that buyers really aren’t liars; they’re just answering your questions about the home they want based on their rational or thinking brain (the cerebral cortex).

According to Rapaille, the purchasing decision originates in the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain lacks language… It’s also a storehouse for emotions and decisions that might seem irrational. Although the cortex thinks it knows what it wants, the reptilian brain ultimately decides

Clearly, understanding how to best appeal to the reptilian brain is crucial for successful agents. One strategy to consider poses a fun hypothetical for the buyers: if they won the lottery for $10 million, what house would they buy? Even more effective: prefacing the question by handing the buyers a faux check for $10 million.

Having the buyers envision this ideal situation is an excellent way to tap into the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain has just been rewarded with something that makes your cortex feel good. In addition, this good feeling is subconsciously linked to you, the agent, since you have given them the (pretend) money. (The reptilian brain, it turns out, is not great at spotting a fake check.)

“I have used this approach for over 20 years,” says author and consultant Bernice Ross, “and it always provides a more accurate picture of what the buyers want — even if they are only buying an entry-level condo.”

For instance, if your buyer envisions their lottery house having a gorgeous view, you’ll know that a unit facing a building or some other un-picturesque sight won’t work.

Another strategy has a more direct link to the reptilian brain.

Per Ross:

I remember my very first transaction with a young couple looking for their first home. I picked out three terrific properties, a fourth that was marginal but was in their price range and one that was a dog.

You can guess which one they bought — the dog. Why? It reminded one of the buyers of his grandmother’s house.

The buyer opted for the home that reminded him of happy childhood memories, memories that had existed in his brain since before he was old enough to speak. The house tapped into those memories.

Thusly, another good question to ask buyers is: “What was your favorite house from your childhood like? What did you like about it?”

By tapping into those pleasant childhood memories, you’re being granted access to the most basic elements of the buyer’s needs, giving you insight into what sort of a home they are currently looking for.

Lastly, there are multiple small ways to increase your odds at reaching the buyer’s reptilian brain. All agents know that providing refreshments at an open house (for instance, the classic baked cookie) is beneficial. Why? The reptilian brain’s love of creature comforts.

When photographing a house, be sure to include examples of these creature comforts in the photos. A photo designed to appeal to the reptilian brain should feature a base, instinctual comfort: perhaps a couple basking in the sun, enjoying a drink. Perhaps an open book and a coffee mug on a bedroom’s nightstand. Both of these are examples of basic creature comforts that the reptilian brain associates with relaxation.

For more information about the reptilian brain vs. the cortical, read the rest of Rapaille’s research here.


Source: Inman

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