How we show people around when selling unique homes?
How would you describe your experience of being shown around a home by an estate agent? Many people tell us that it’s less than inspiring and often unpleasant.
At the top of their list of eye-rolling cliches is the constant stereotypical sales patter, followed by a lack of knowledge and rigidly short time slots for viewings. As though everyone is merely an object on a conveyor belt of homes and buyers, with no regard to individuality.
As well as being disheartening for buyers, it’s bad news for sellers. Choosing who to trust with the sale of your home is a big deal with a lot riding on it. So when your estate agent is more interested in getting the agreement signed than learning about your property, it hardly fills you with confidence.
Selling unique homes is almost unrecognisable compared with high-street estate agency. Viewings are critical moments, and the way someone is allowed to experience a property is crucial to getting the best price from the perfect buyer.
So this week, our partners Simon, Danny and Madelaine share how they make every viewing a special and successful occasion.
The most important thing is to give people the time and space to really savour the home we’re showing them.
I remember my years as a high street agent when it was all about getting them in and getting them out as soon as possible. Most viewing slots were 15-20 minutes max, which is fine when every home in your area is essentially the same.
If somebody wants a three-bed semi, they’ll already know the interior layout before arriving. There’ll be two living rooms downstairs, a kitchen facing the garden, one single and two double bedrooms upstairs, then a bathroom above the kitchen. There are no surprises, and that’s precisely why people buy them. They’re reliable, safe and familiar, and specifically designed to house a typical family.
But that simply wouldn’t work with unique homes. Even after a detailed conversation with an owner when booking our initial consultation, I still don’t know exactly how their property will unfold when I visit. The same goes for buyers. While they’ll have seen our description, photography and floor plans, they’re unlikely to have viewed anything similar.
Given that each tour is a true journey of discovery, it’s essential that everyone viewing a unique home gets to sit down to simply be with it. This means allowing lots of time for each appointment.
Our marketplace is very grown-up and most of our buyers are one or more of self-employed, creative and unconventional. They also have definite ideas about how they want to live.
So we don’t have an agenda of getting an offer before they run off to see an identical home down the road, because there isn’t one. Viewings should be a mature and delightful experience that gives someone a deep understanding of the property they are seeing.
There’s an expectation from customers when they contact a company called Unique Property Company: that the experience will reflect the name.
From the moment a viewing enquiry comes in, we behave differently to most estate agents. Because the properties we work with all have something special about them, and because our clients, buyers and tenants all have stories, styles and personalities which are incredibly varied, we need to create a bespoke response for each viewing and viewer.
Each member of the Unique team knows the properties they’re working with inside out. We never just scrape through a viewing, or wing it with an answer we hope will diffuse a doubt.
From the minutiae of getting the keys and learning the alarm system, to mastering complicated lighting controls, to having an informed and practical understanding of every property, nothing is left to chance.
Our approach is to dig into a home’s heritage and sales history so we can tell its story to every viewer. Alongside all its highlights and inherent character, we also explore any shortcomings to pre-empt potential obstacles. It’s about giving a thorough and authentic representation, and being completely upfront with buyers produces far more enthusiasm than being cagey!
The proof is in the pudding, and our clients and buyers often become friends. Many have come back to us time and again to sell their property, find their next home, and they’re always telling us that we’re not like any other estate agents they’ve ever worked with before. And we know that they mean that in a good way!
When I was a high-street agent, if somebody wanted an unusual home, I couldn’t really give them much time. The chances of finding them something were incredibly slim; almost non-existent. And there were always enough buyers looking for what we already had for sale.
Most estate agents operate in areas with a certain style and period of homes. In fact, they talk about the same type of property every day. They’re used to having X for sale, and people calling up to buy X. That’s normal estate agency.
Selling unique homes is entirely different. Everything is out of the ordinary, from the property and location to the owner and the buyer. I’m very unlikely to have a typical conversation when the phone rings. And when I’m at a viewing, I won’t necessarily show the property the same way on each visit.
There’s a great deal of flexibility required in tailoring a viewing to someone’s lifestyle. Very often, that means getting straight to the part that meets their most specific requirement, with the rest following behind.
People don’t usually want to be led around by an estate agent declaring “here’s the dining room” and “this is the kitchen”. They want a conversation about space and detail; not a list of rooms. Plenty of them will change the layout anyway!
There are even times when it’s clear that someone wants to lead themselves. I’m fine with that, and happy to step back and shut up if it deepens their connection to a property. It’s about treating people with respect and paying attention to who they are.
We hope gives you a helpful insight into how we make viewings memorable and enjoyable when selling unique homes.
If you have a unique property you’d like to sell or rent, we’d love to help you with your plans. Drop us a line at [email protected] or call us on 020 7917 9995, and one of our team will get right back to you.
Did you find this article interesting? Why not take a look in our library of blogs for more on selling and letting unique homes.