When people visit a home they immediately do three things. They look, compare and contrast.

In other words, they look to understand what is offered… they compare to make sure what they see satisfies their buying criteria… and thirdly, they contrast what they see against what they presently have or other homes they may have just seen.

The law of contrast states that when two items are different, a person will see them as more diverse if they are placed close together.

The use of contrast is based on a person’s perception of things that happens one right after the other. For example, if you’ve had a rotten day because you found out the government was auditing your tax return and you go to the parking lot and find a big scratch on your car, you will have a different reaction to the scratch, if you were having a great day because you won the lottery and then found the scratch.

It’s the same scratch, but you will have a different reaction to it depending on what you’re personally experiencing at the time.

What I’m talking about is perception. The human mind has to find a benchmark of comparison to make judgments. This happens when a buyer is considering different homes, communities and locations.

The law of contrast applies to many situations in the home buying and selling experience. Here are just a few:

  • Contrasting homes;
  • Contrast communities;
  • Contrast locations;
  • Contrast financing programs;
  • Contrast amenities;
  • Contrast available services.

To experience the law of contrast try this experiment: Fill three buckets with water, one with hot water, another with cold water, and the third with tepid water. Place one hand in the hot bucket and the other one in the cold bucket for thirty seconds. Now place both hands in the tepid bucket and you will feel the law of contrast. The water in the third bucket is considered warm, but to the hot hand it feels cold and to the cold hand it feels warm. It is the same water but two completely different reactions. This is the law of contrast.

Any home, community, location and amenity can be contrasted to appear different from what a buyer has seen by using the law of contrast.  It’s important to be aware of this effect when shopping for a home.