The local disadvantage.

Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

How the high street limits your audience

Some of the best ideas for a blog come from the conversations we have with people in their homes. Their concerns and questions are often shared, whether we’re at a Water Tower in Winchmore Hill, a warehouse in Wapping or a Bavarian lodge in Bromley.

But this week’s blog doesn’t come from the concerns of homeowners; it comes from the objections of other estate agents. And that objection is that Unique Property Company isn’t a local firm. It’s the most consistent seed of doubt that conventional high street agents try to sow on the minds of an owner (rather than simply demonstrating why they should win their business), so we thought we’d explore it.

You’ve probably heard of the internet and how it’s transformed so many areas of life, particularly the way people search for a home, with around 95% of enquiries now generated online. Ultimately, if your home is typical of your local area, it will come up in someone’s search results regardless of which agent you choose. All you need to do is make sure the agent is on The Big Four portals – some aren’t, and we think that’s a mistake – and that their photography and spelling are up to scratch (again, not all are). Then simply choose the one you’d rather talk to.

But what if your home isn’t typical? There is no facility on any of the portals to search for unusual property, and no suggestions for similar odd-ones-out if you manage to find one. Instead, you have to trawl every postcode and trudge through every property to see if you can find something out of the ordinary.

Almost everyone we deal with isn’t bothered about location location location – rarely do you find a converted factory in the poshest residential street. Rather than obsessing about where they live, or whether a home is end-of-terrace or semi-detached, they are concerned about HOW they live and the space inside.

So if that Water Tower in Winchmore Hill has got the right amount of space but too many stairs, the lateral layout of the equally unique Bavarian lodge in Bromley could well fit the bill.

No agent showing a house in North London will even know about, let alone suggest, an alternative 21 miles away. The demands of high street agency ensure a blinkered focus on a single neighbourhood; there’s just no room to be aware of anything else.

The problem today for high street agents is that they no longer have an audience. The portals – rightly or wrongly – have taken it away.

People used to walk up and down high streets, choosing or dismissing agents by their window display, or by the look of their office. Now, none of that matters. Buyers search by property photos alone; the look, logo and legacy of the agents are irrelevant.

On the other hand, Unique Property Company does have an audience, because the nature of the homes we represent breeds a natural curiosity and voyeuristic quality. The result is regularly more direct enquiries on individual listings than even mighty Rightmove can muster.

And with those unique enquiries, we can – and do – take people to homes in wildly different locations: like selling a chapel conversion in Faversham in Kent to a man who called about a warehouse apartment in Limehouse; or the workshop in Clapham that went to a caller about a reworked Victorian house in Bethnal Green.

For a home that’s unique or unusual within its neighbourhood, the built-in limitations of a conventional high street agent create something of a handicap. They’re shackled by the portals’ restrictive search facilities and their understandable focus on single postcodes.

But there’s a bigger world beyond the traditional property market; one where buyers looking for a unique or unusual home don’t even begin their search on the portals. Sometimes they never even get there; they never speak to a local agent, and the agents don’t even know they exist.

It doesn’t matter for a terraced house or purpose-built apartment, but it’s a local disadvantage for anyone selling a unique or unusual home.

Would you like to know more about how we can help you sell your unique home? Why not read more of our articles on how we can help you find the perfect buyer.

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