Selling houses with the help of Maslow

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow presented a theory of human motivation. His model, usually illustrated as a five-level pyramid, represents a set of universal human needs in the order in which those needs are generally fulfilled. He called it the Hierarchy of Needs. These needs progress upwards in the pyramid structure, from the most basic physical needs at the bottom, to safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem and then finally to the more complex need of self-actualisation. Maslow believed that throughout life, only when you have satisfied your needs on one level, will you look to the needs on the next level up.

Maslow’s original model has been around for over 70 years (it was later expanded to include cognitive, aesthetic and transcendence needs), yet in modern advertising, marketing & sales practices it remains a relevant tool for understanding human motivation and better predicting human behaviour. This allows us to identify our buyers needs and appeal to them in a meaningful, relevant way.

Where we choose to live can have an enormous impact on our happiness and sense of self-worth. The principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you direct your approach to sales by communicating the physical and psychological needs that will be met by the home you are selling. By addressing common fears, anxieties, worries, needs and desires, you are targeting your ads towards different levels of the hierarchy to really resonate with buyers.

We all have innate desires or needs – they have been in our DNA for thousands of years. However, we are not all motivated in the same way and do not all move up the hierarchy at the same pace.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Broken Down

Physiological needs:

Nearly all humans in the world want or need the comfort of a place to lay their head at night. The most basic human needs are sleep, water, breathing, food and sex. Marketing a solidly built home, a peaceful night’s sleep or the convenience of nearby shopping centres, restaurants and cafes all relate to Maslow’s first level in his Hierarchy of Needs.

Safety & Security:

Real estate can satisfy the need for physical and financial safety. A security system, fully-fenced yard, secure garage or bus stop at the door will appeal to a buyer’s need for physical safety, whilst a savvy investment, value for money or growth area will meet the need for financial security.

Love & belonging:

There is often an emotional connection to a property that makes a house feel like a home. A home that has a story to tell, that has a particular charm about it, or that’s within a family-friendly or community-minded area will promote a sense of belonging. Comfort and relationships fall within this level, so setting the scene for social gatherings, growing families and visitor-friendly spaces will meet these needs.


Status and the need to feel respected is a common goal for buyers. The house you live in reflects your social and financial status. Every property makes its own statement that can be fed into a buyer’s sense of self-esteem. A home that is luxurious, architecturally designed, has state-of-the-art fittings and fixtures, or in an upmarket suburb will meet the desire of personal achievement and the feeling of material success. Alternatively, a home that needs renovating and requires that special someone to add a creative touch can provide a sense of accomplishment.


To reach self-actualisation we need to live to our full potential as human beings, to focus on ourselves, our personal growth and our quality of life. This pursuit of happiness could be the sea-change or tree-change, a Feng Shui home or an ecological or sustainable lifestyle.

Appealing to the motivational drivers behind the needs at each level, wherever that may be in the hierarchy, can lead to a higher conversion rate. If the property meets more than one need on the pyramid, then lead with the need that is the lowest down on the pyramid because it is more fundamental and will appeal to more buyers in a more relevant and meaningful way.

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