I am involved in a Housing rental listings project where users are given a number of choices to choose their preferred home from. All choices fulfill their original criteria(Budget for rent, location, area etc.). Though they say they have found their perfect home, yet they just wait and watch for better listings. Later on, when the listing is gone, they want to get it back.

We have tried a handful of solutions like -

  • sending regular emails, notifications stating that the listing is available for a limited time.
  • Making calls to remind them that they may lose this opportunity. When we ask them why they are not going for a particular listing, their response is "I like this house but I'll make my decision after some time".

But none of them seems to work. We want to understand the core of this mentality. We understand that this is not a unique problem and multiple variations of the same problem exist in other industries also.

Has anyone done an extensive study on this kind of behaviour?

  • 1
    Sounds like you should do some user research!
    – nadyne
    Jul 15, 2016 at 2:17
  • you also might wanna accept an answer
    – Nodnin
    Aug 6, 2019 at 15:06

4 Answers 4


From an interface design point of view, you could try providing some kind of activity metric next to the listing for the property.

This metric could be either a measure of interest i.e. the number of people who've saved the property or some kind of 'Hot Property' flag. You can base this flag on a more complex algorithm which estimates how long the property might remain on the market. Such an algorithm can take inputs like interest and 'value for money'.

Booking.com provides a similar feature, by flagging hotels which have only a few rooms left on a given night.

  • Clothing sites like Asos also show a 'Low in stock' warning for items that may soon be sold out. Sep 10, 2016 at 21:19
  • A lot of airline ticket sites will have e.g. "5 people have purchased seats in the last 10 minutes", similar on hotel sites, and I can say from first-hand experience that this is extremely effective in getting me to commit asap, for reasons that I don't even fully understand.
    – Jason C
    Sep 11, 2016 at 5:46
  • I think 'why' it works is something complicated in the 'behavioural economics' area (It's probably just worth trying variations on the pattern 'last 5 minutes v last 10 minutes' ? to see what works best rather than dwelling too much on 'why').
    – PhillipW
    Sep 11, 2016 at 11:26

Great answers here. But I'm sure a lot of travel apps must have faced the same. Everybody claims the love to travel, but when it come to booking the wait . Then when the prices go up, they want the original price

I think it will be useful to look at the HOPPER model here. Here are few of my suggestion:

Show contextual information Show them the price, maybe show what are the similar prices and how many people like it.

Tell them the listing will be gone Informing users that prices might go up or the listing will be gone will make them work towards it faster.

Show interest by other Maybe show how many people saw that listing in the past few hours / days. How many of them have saved it in their wish list

I hope this helps.


I haven't done or seen any studies on this but what you're describing sounds to me like "Wish List" construction. - Your users may not be immediately interested in renting a property but want to short list some choices for the possibility that they might be in the future.

If this is the case then no amount of prompting will help as they're simply not in the market.

You could, however, capitalise a little on this by feeding them details of similar properties to the ones they have saved. This, at least, will keep them engaged with the site until they might be ready to make the commitment of actually following up on one of the properties.

  • 1
    They are in the market because when they ask for some listing which is not available they react as if they have lost an opportunity by not selecting it earlier. They are highly active in searching the flats. I think they want to avoid Buyer's remorse (wikiwand.com/en/Buyer's_remorse).
    – Jcoder
    Jul 12, 2016 at 9:23
  • @Jcoder, This is possible. There is also the possibility that they are having a problem with choice paralysis (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice) and want to hold as many options as possible Jul 12, 2016 at 9:28

Should the listing really disappear after it is no longer available? Would it not be advisable to keep the item in the list for a while, while making it clear that it is not an available option any more, just so that the users will understand what has happened to it?

Also, like @PhillipW said, give them more information about how popular the item is and that they will loose it if they don't pay attention.

  • 1
    I like your first suggestion here: To tell the user "This flat was sold for €1000" and that price went up by 15% sine last time the user saw that object. This might make the user stop thinking and actually close the deal since she know that if she don't the price will go up by so and so percentage. Sep 11, 2016 at 18:41

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