One of the best things about selling historic homes is hearing the story of their heritage and never really knowing what to expect until we’re actually inside. It lends a sense of anticipation to every home we visit, and we’re always excited to reach the front door and see what lies beyond.
If you have a historic home that you’re looking to sell, you’re doubtless acutely aware that it doesn’t sit quietly among a parade of carbon copies. Your home is not typical of where you live, and an identical one didn’t sell in the next street yesterday afternoon. More than that, the precise value and marketplace are not already established by similar nearby sales.
With all that mystery, how can you find your perfect buyer when they may not be looking in your area or even for what you own? That’s a challenge we face every day, so here are some tips on how to ensure your historic home gets the attention it deserves.
Delve Into The Past
Storytelling is a lost art in estate agency, but everyone loves a story, and everyone loves to know the heritage of a home. When we’re out on viewings where there’s any sort of previous history – which is any home we market – people are fascinated by its past.
There’s something truly captivating about knowing that a kitchen used to be where wheels for cars were made, or that a living room was the main factory floor full of lathes and workers and industry—having a tale to tell adds real depth and detail.
Aside from all that juice for buyers, it really pays when your estate agent is genuinely interested in architectural heritage. Everyone at Unique is obsessed with the story of the homes we sell, and we’re often chatting about them and picturing the scene in our minds of how things might have looked way back when.
When all someone can say of a converted grain warehouse is that a home is “a two-bedroom loft-style flat”, you have to ask how much interest that’s likely to create. Moreover, how instrumental are they going to be in getting you the very best price and the perfect buyer?
Avoid Flash Photography
A common thread of estate agency photography, even among agents who call their photographs professional, is the formulaic turning on of every light and using a flash. Frankly, anyone can do that, and it results in the images of different homes looking very similar because all of the light is artificial.
The best interior photographers don’t do that. Think about the rich, deep and smooth tones you see in magazines like Homes & Gardens, Wallpaper and House Beautiful. You don’t see them whacking on every light willy nilly, and nor do we. Our photographers shoot in a naturalistic style that conveys the actual character of a home and how natural light creates individual texture and atmosphere.
Specialist interior photographers cost a lot more than estate agency photographers, which is why estate agents don’t use them. There’s a particular expertise in creating the sorts of photos you see in luxury publications, and it doesn’t come cheap. But, speaking from experience, cheapness is one of the main criteria for high street agents when choosing a photographer. The term “professional” simply means the photographs were taken by someone who charged for them, but it sadly doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re any good.
Focus On The Fabric
Historic homes have two stories – the vocal and the visual. Knowing that a home has a history is one thing, but seeing it played out before your eyes is where the real magic happens and where browsers turn into buyers.
Expose as much of the fabric of the building as is practically possibl. That doesn’t mean you have to strip the plaster off the walls of a Tudor barn, but you should definitely make the most of beams, floorboards, fireplaces, interior doors and any architectural interest.
Look for where any furniture is blocking a wonderful detail. For the sake of getting a buyer, it’s worth re-arranging rooms to highlight as much of your home’s character as possible. If you’re not sure where to start, just ask us for some pointers, and we’ll help you get things right so you can retain your lifestyle while seducing your viewers.
If you’re renovating, either restore in the original style using traditional materials, or choose unabashedly contemporary interventions that avoid detail and concentrate on simplicity of design.
Think Beyond Location
Unique and historic homes both face a similar challenge in that they often hide in neighbourhoods where subsequent development has brought a vernacular of conventional property. Think of all our classic – and adorable – Georgian townhouses, Victorian terraces, Edwardian semis and 1930s family homes. These are what most buyers look for, with their searches regularly led by schooling or commuting.
Searching for something more original doesn’t work like that. “Oh, I’d love to live in a windmill, so I’ll start looking in Battersea” isn’t really how buyers of unique and historic homes operate, which is why they have such an awful time hunting on the property portals. They don’t fit the mechanical search parameters of websites like Rightmove or Zoopla.
The chances are that if your home is unique or historic, it will sell to someone who isn’t explicitly looking in your location. They’re looking for a special something, but they may not know precisely what, and or even where to look.
Given the unpredictable profile of buyers of unique and historic homes, your choice of estate agent needs to give you a tangible reach outside of plonking you on a portal. Trying to convince someone who wants a four-bedroom terrace that what they really want is a six-storey water tower, isn’t much of an approach.
Ask every agent you speak to about their SEO and keyword strategy, and whether homes like yours form part of it. SEO takes a while to gain traction, and it won’t work if your estate agent’s plan is to add keywords for your type of home at the point you instruct them. You need that strategy to have been in place for a good few months to be of use to you.
Selling historic homes is something of an art form, and you deserve to feel that you and your home are in good hands. Every aspect of the campaign to find you a buyer should be rooted in experience, attention to detail and lifting you above the noise of typical property portal marketing. Your home is probably not the same as everything else around it, and the marketing and presentation should reflect that individuality.
If you own a historic home and you’re considering making a move, we’d love to show you how we can put you in front of a unique audience and reach the buyers who’ll pay for your home’s special qualities. Everything starts with a conversation, so why not call us on +44 (0)20 7917 9995, or drop us a line at [email protected] – we can’t wait to hear about your home!