The Paradox of Choice in Valencia

We are well into Autumn now in Valencia with the colours of the trees turning and giving a verdant and golden backdrop both inside and outside the city and temperatures dropping to give those lovely evenings when you take a jacket out with you just in case as you sit on the outside cafes and terraces.

As we mentioned in our Valencia Property market report last week, which you can read at the link, the market continues to be wild and we continue to make sales regardless of the tight supply of properties. And one of the reasons we are making those sales is just because of that tight supply. It's known as the Paradox of choice. If you don't know what it is then let me tell you a story and then apply that to the Valencia property market.

The Jam Experiment

It's a famous experiment and shows clearly the Paradox of Choice. It's called the Jam Experiment because it involved jams but could easily be applied to other choices in life. As you can see the experiment was as follows. When consumers were given 24 choices of jam to try they bought less than when they were given just six to try despite the initial offer of trying out 24 jams attracting more shoppers. You can see the full results here.

Don't believe it? Well, it has been repeated often with products such as chocolates and even 401k retirement planning. The fewer options given the better the take up of those options that exist. It's a common thing you see when you are checking out online, the easier the process the fewer abandonments of the cart, the fewer the choices the more chance you will buy. There's even a Ted Talk about it, you can watch that below.


There are two main reasons that people are less likely to choose when given more choice; buyer's remorse and analysis paralysis and a third lesser-known reason, ego depletion. Let's look into each of them in turn.

Buyer's remorse usually comes after a purchase when you cannot stop thinking of how much better the other options may have been. In terms of a small purchase such as a washing machine or jams that's ok but in terms of a house you don't want to get to that point of having made a "bad" decision so you put off the decision.

And that's where we get into the second problem, analysis paralysis. Each option presented to you has something that it has or does better than the other options. Therefore you cannot choose between each product as they all have at least one redeeming feature which is better than the rest. This is exacerbated when there is more than one person making the choice because the importance they give to the "best" feature of the product might be their prime motivation for buying it.

The third reason is ego depletion. Estate agents often use this against you by taking you to the point of your ego being totally depleted and then showing you the property they want you to buy! You are so tired of making decisions to not buy totally unsuitable properties that when something that may only cover the basics of your requirements is shown to you then you jump into it overcoming your reticence and the other two factors.

You'll be happy to know that we don't use that final tactic. We want to find you your perfect property in the first few we show you. How do we do this? We have an initial consultation call, go deep into your motivations and requirements, we both decide whether we want to work together and we take you to see only the properties that suit your requirements.

Here's The Problem...

Whatever your budget, whatever your requirements, whatever your personality and however well you get on with your partner and agree on everything (as if), there will never be more than a handful of properties that fit that criteria if your criteria are well defined.

What About Valencia Property? How Does This Paradox Work Here

Over the years we have seen plenty of times that the more properties a client sees the lesser the chance they have of buying one of them (See later on in this article for an example of this).

Why is this?

Well it's the paradox of choice of course. Let's look at how it works when buying a villa. Let's assume we have had our consultation call, you have filled in the form on our article about Taking the First Step (If you haven't then do it now), you have given us all the information we need and we have shown you a good selection of properties which tick all of your boxes, or at least most of them. What happens next?

This process.

Your Mind and Your Internal Discussions - The Four Villa Example

"Villa 1 has a fantastic swimming pool but no covered terrace area, Villa 2 has an amazing covered terrace with views to die for but the pool is raised and small and it's on rustic land. Villa 3 hasn't got a pool, but you could potentially put one in as it's urban land and it has 6 bedrooms to allow space for all of those visitors I imagine will be coming over to visit regularly. However it does need reforming, I can put my own seal on it. Villa 4 is everything I want in a villa but it has no great view to speak of, however it's right by the town so I have everything to hand and also a metro line in walking distance to get in and out of the city and I want to be in the city a lot!"

And it carries on in this way, your partner has their own internal dialogue, your kids stick their oar in when they eventually look up from their phone or Nintendo Switch.

Choices, choices, choices. Actually, too many choices. Two people making the decision means a lot of opinions, add kids into that decision making process too and things get even more difficult.

However, think about it this way, if you hadn't been shown Villas 2-4 you would probably have been extremely happy with villa 1, it ticks all of your boxes. You might not even think about the covered terrace because you haven't seen the excellent terrace in villa 2 and you know that a huge awning or parasol will do the same job. Even if you had the choice of 1 or 2 it's a lot easier because the question becomes what is more important, the pool or the views? Simples! The more choices you are given the more difficult a decision becomes.

How The Tight Market Affects You

When the market is tight the number of suitable properties shrinks because there isn't as much on the market that will tick all of your boxes. It may well be that there is actually nothing that ticks all of those boxes. Nevertheless, instead of selling you something that's second best using the ego depletion method so loved by certain estate agents the World over we tell you one small word at that point, "Wait!" Yes, we tell you to be patient because that property will come up and at that point you need to be ready to jump on it.

How do you get ready? Bank account in place, money transfer company appointed, lawyer appointed with a Power of Attorney so they can act for you, preparations made, video watched etc... etc... In fact everything we mention on our essential reading page. Read and inwardly digest.

By doing all of this you are ready when that one property comes up, that pearl in the shell that suits you down to the ground. The truth is it may not be available on the days when you are here and especially in the case of our American clients it's a long way to come to see a single property. If you have everything in place and you are ready to go then using our services and you trust us to actually do the spade work of eliminating what won't suit you and finding you the perfect place then we will find the right place for you, even if it appears after you have left.

An Experiment Of Our Own

Let's do a thought experiment and you'll see what I mean about a tight market. What if everything in Valencia was for sale? We can see everything and there are no restrictions. How many properties would suit you really? How many properties would you need to see if your requirements were clearly defined?

That depends on the requirements you have of course. Let's assume there are 500,000 properties in Valencia. Let's say your must have is that it needs a large terrace and is a penthouse. Congratulations, you have just eliminated 99% of the properties. Don't worry though, that still leaves 5000. Four bedrooms you say? Well over 90% of those properties are now gone because the vast majority of properties are 1-3 bedrooms. Let's say 94% to be fair but some of them will have 5 bedrooms. That won't worry you.

300 Left.

The terrace has to be south facing. We are down to 75.

What did you say your price range was? Up to 300k? Decent! How many do you think that leaves?

Take a look at current availability on idealista. When I wrote this I found 13 available but obviously in our thought experiment there are more of course because here we are only including those that are currently for sale. The rest may come up for sale at some stage in the future but that price may be different.

Oh did I say 13? I meant 9 because 5 were the same property listed five times by different agents and at different prices. It happens. Oh and one isn't really a penthouse, it's a top floor with a smaller terrace. 8 it is then. Oh, you can't filter by which way the terrace faces so maybe 2!

And you know what? This is actually good.

Less choice means it's easier to make a decision because your requirements are defined and clear. If you come into the market saying

"I want three bedrooms and it should be nice. I'll know what I want when I see it" what happens then?

Congratulations, you have just made sure we will never find you what you want. Last week we took a client to see a property that just wasn't for them (despite it ticking the boxes they gave us) and I totally get why. We then found out they had seen around fifty properties so far over a long period of time and only the day before had seen the perfect place for them (but it wasn't because the terrace faced the wrong way). Remember what I said before in the four villa example? However their criteria is now clear. Rotate the place they had seen the day before about 90º to the east and they'll buy it. Our job is to find that place.

Clear Definitions Count

Now you will understand why filling in the form and telling us what you want in detail is so important. The more detail the better as it eliminates the things that will not suit you. And once we have reduced the numbers of places you are going to see in this way we can then eliminate even more because there will be a clear hierarchy among those properties that remain. In a lot of cases we will have seen the properties you want to see because what you like is likely to be what others like too. So we can tell you which properties will be better and start the visits with those. In the best case scenario we will hit the nail on the head with the first property you see. Worst case is showing you 20 properties and too much choice as the Paradox of Choice comes into play and you will be unlikely to choose anything.

Golden Visa Property of the Week

Bulls, Guns, Plates and Tiles. Very Typically Spanish

An eye-catching property here, just a couple of minutes walk from the centre of Benaguasil, which is just past L’Eliana, about 30 minutes from Valencia City.

As you look through the photos you’ll see what I mean. A few different styles going on. Rustic, rococo, minimalist, classical, something for everyone here.

Parts remind me of a pueblo restaurant, plates on the walls alongside the bullfighting memorabilia, and erm... guns. Where the waiter tells you that you absolutely must try the sesos, the house speciality, and you end up trying to choke down a plate of sheep's brains while wishing you had ordered the criadillas, whatever they are.

Other parts are a bit fancy, to be used for special occasions, like Christmas and wakes. And by the time you get to the top floor its gone all wooden ceiling beams and open plan spaces. So there’s a lot going on here, something for everyone. And there’s more

A pool outside, of course, but there’s also a 121m2 gym room (bigger than most city apartments by the way) with weight and exercise machines, a sauna and a jacuzzi. Throw away that gym membership you never use and instead have an entire wing of your house you never use!

Whatever else, this house is not boring. Come and explore it with us, give us a call

Description of the Week.

You will have seen our article about our favourite property descriptions, take a look here if you haven't. We are continually trying to better ourselves and this week our favourite description was for this property in Valencia which managed to mention Tucker Carlson and a second mention for the Dumpster Fire that is the USA post the Orange Sh*tgibbon.

If you Enjoyed This...

Then you will love reading more of course. Property, Valencia, wit, sarcasm and more... Just click on the images to read more of the things that take your fancy.

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