The 8-second Test for Selling Your Home Fast

Marketers who study such things promote the idea of an “8-second test.” At least that was what was being written about in 2015 when studies were said to have demonstrated that “buyers make their decisions in that amount of time.” It might seem that homes for sale would be a category of sale items exempted from the 8-second rule, but not so. The most famous version of the claim is credited to prominent Manhattan Realtor Barbara Corcoran, who explained that “after that [the 8 seconds], they’ve either fallen in love or are just honoring an appointment.”

For homeowners preparing their own homes for sale, the test could just be another way of claiming that “curb appeal” is the most important item in a home’s presentation. Of course, that’s far from being the whole story—but there is a kernel of truth behind the exaggeration. That first impression is powerful. If the prospect’s initial take is something like, “more impressive than I thought” or “this looks like it’s in perfect shape,” hopes will be raised that this could be the one! But if the 8-second first impression is neutral or worse, the showing that follows had better include some impressive, unexpected features for any kind of serious follow-up to result.

Whatever else its value, the 8-second test is useful to perform for owners beginning to prepare their home for sale. Drive off, then come back and park where you would for a showing. Get out of the car, and look. Your 8 seconds are up. If you can have a clear impression that what you see is a definite eye-pleaser, be pleased: the curb-appeal factor is going to work in your favor! On the other hand, if you found yourself more drawn to some distracting elements (like a too well-worn front door or a cracked walkway), you’ve just made some valuable discoveries—ones almost certainly worth correcting.

The 8-second test isn’t the final word. Every knowledgeable Realtor® has examples of walk-throughs where key interior elements are so perfectly matched to the buyers’ wishes that the day is won despite an unenthusiastic introduction. But the far more common truth is that eliminating any glaring negative element is essential to creating the curb appeal result that earns the highest offers.