Pareto’s Principle for Home Sellers

“Eighty percent of results will come from just twenty percent of the action.” This is the Pareto principle, attributed to Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1906, observed an intriguing correlation. He began work on the “80/20 rule” with the observation that 20% of the pea plants in his garden generated 80% of the healthy pea pods. This observation caused him to explore more examples of uneven distribution. He discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population. He investigated different industries and found that 80% of production typically came from just 20% of the companies. His findings led to the concept that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action.
While it does not always come to be an exact 80/20 ratio, this imbalance is often seen in various business cases:

  • 20% of sales reps generate 80% of total sales
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits
  • 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes
  • 20% of patients account for 80% of healthcare spending

RELATING THE 80/20 RULE TO HOME SELLING
Understanding the 80/20 rule concept can save you time in selling your home. Applying the 80/20 rule, you stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Applying the rule, you can highlight the 20% of your home’s features that make it special. The remaining 80% of your home still affects the buyer’s decision, so do not neglect it, but in photographs and showings, feature the elements that make your home special.
Keep in mind, your selling point won’t be the common features your home shares with the other properties on the market. Instead, use your home’s unique features to grab the attention of buyers who are interested in those distinctive attributes.


BUYER’S STORY
When Vince and Sue were shopping for a new home, Vince wanted an ocean view. They looked at many desirable properties but didn’t find any that were right for them. Some were overpriced; others had obstructed views. The search went on for almost a year until they found an older home a short walk from the ocean. The neglected exterior and dated interior were not encouraging, but when Vince stepped onto the third-floor balcony off the master suite, he was sold. Any shortcomings in wall color or fixtures faded away when he took in the view. He could now see the sunrise from his bedroom window every morning. What 20% of the home caught the eyes of Vince and Sue? The magnificent third-floor view of the ocean!


SELLER’S STORY
When Cam and Kate listed their home, they needed a buyer who wasn’t concerned that the house was on an unpaved road. Though the home was over 10 years old, the interior was updated with fresh, neutral wall colors and carpeting to look brand new. The towering trees and established yard gave the home a welcoming appeal. The buyer had also looked at a home within miles of Cam and Kate’s that had towering trees, as well as a koi pond and patio. This home was comparable in interior and exterior, but it was on a busy street. What 20% of the home caught the buyer’s eye and prompted him to choose Cam and Kate’s home? The buyer loved the secluded country feel of the home. The 1.8-acre property was surrounded by pastures, with grand oaks dotting the landscape.

LOCATION MATTERS
A buyer paid extra for a townhouse because of its location in the complex overlooking woods instead of the parking area. Another seller took advantage of the fact that most of the surrounding homes didn’t have yards; only a few shared a half-acre grassy area. An owner whose townhouse bordered this yard area sold his home for a higher price than other townhouses in the complex because he had a characteristic shared by fewer than 10% of others — in fact, he had the only available listing offering that feature. He pointed to that feature in marketing the townhome. With this attractive point of difference, the house sold for a higher price.
Another townhouse seller in the same complex found a different unique feature. Although she did not have a yard, she was still able to use location to advantage. Her property backed up to a lake and fountain. This unique feature helped her to sell the townhouse quickly and for a better-than-average sales price.


THE 80/20 RULE IN ACTION: BUYERS ARE SEARCHING FOR UNIQUE FEATURES
Decide upon, improve, and spotlight the unique features of your home in marketing copy, photographs, and showings. Do not spend much time explaining how the storage room can be converted to another full bath; instead, lead the dog-owning prospect to the fenced-off dog run in the unusually large backyard. If the home has a certain feature a buyer is specifically looking for, highlighting this aspect in marketing efforts will attract interested buyers willing to pay the asking price.
Each house will have its unique features. Here are some suggestions if you aren’t sure of yours:

  • Hilltop views or high vantage point, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding area
  • Open fields frequented by wildlife
  • Unobstructed views of sunrise and sunset
  • Patios, decks, dog runs, garden areas, and gazebos — highlight items neighboring houses don’t have, or differences in size or quality; that one vital feature could help you sell your home
  • Location can set a property apart, even in the same area, adding value to a home on a cul-de-sac or corner lot
  • A private location or lot partially concealed by trees
  • A unique, shady, or larger backyard; a fenced backyard is a big selling point (If your yard can be fenced but is not, consider making that improvement.)
  • Finished basement, large attic or garage, swimming pool, or anything else that makes your home stand out

Following the 80/20 rule can lessen time showing to people who aren’t interested. Instead, you will be showing your home to buyers who are motivated to make a purchase.
You won’t have to show as frequently. You also won’t have to sift through low-ball offers from casual shoppers. Keeping this in mind, you must take the time to uncover your home’s most attractive and unique features and improve them to their highest potential. Compare your house with others in the neighborhood to see what makes yours stand out. Work with that.


HOW THE 80/20 RULE APPLIES TO HOME SALES
An out-of-town home shopper with no specific requirements contacted a real estate agent to look at available homes for sale. The agent drove him from house to house. In each case, the buyer suggested offers 10% to 20% below the asking price without budging. As the day progressed, the agent’s chances of finding a suitable home for the buyer were dwindling. They stopped at one last house as the sun set. The exterior of the house was dated and the yard untended. This agent and her client had spent the entire day looking at houses that shared 80% of the same features. Nevertheless, once the buyer walked into this home, he wanted to offer the full asking price. What set this house apart from the others? He wasn’t too interested in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. A bedroom was a bedroom, as far as he was concerned. He fell in love with the one remarkable feature of this otherwise uninspiring house. The house sat on a hill with a beautiful view out a large window. As they entered the great room, the sun was setting below the distant tree line. That view sold the buyer. The remaining parts of the home could be improved. The home buyer based his decision to buy on the window view from the hillside. The 20% of the home’s features motivated him to offer full price on the spot. Such is the power of the 80/20 rule. In some cases, the 80/20 rule may help people make a sale without even conducting a showing. The house in the following example had languished on the market for months. Unlike the previous home, this one was attractive.


It was a brand-new, custom-built home, yet it sat on the market for over seven months without a single offer.


The builder hired a real estate agent who knew the importance of finding that one special feature. He drove out to give the house a thorough investigation. He discovered what the property had that the competition did not. The house had a five-acre yard. Other houses being sold in the area had one- to two-acre lots.


Not only was the yard bigger, it was also more private than the other properties. The real estate agent marketed the property by highlighting the five acres. Because the house was no longer the main selling point, interest in the property increased.

Join The Discussion

Compare listings

Compare