Before 1991 your property could be anything you wanted it to be – Majestic? Sure why not. Sought after location? Of course it is or how about we just call it the “Greatest Property The Universe Has Ever Seen” and as for the photographs, not to worry we can hide the factory or make that pylon just vanish into thin air … Then along came the “Property Misdescriptions Act” and every Estate Agent in the land had to become – dare I say it – Honest and Truthful about the properties they were selling.
It was a disaster! Not the ‘Act’, that was fine and helped lift the publics opinion of Estate Agents above both Rats and Tax Collectors – The issue was Estate Agents couldn’t write or say anything that the Vendors wanted in their Property Particulars:
“I have a large garden” – “Yes it is large, but next doors garden is bigger, therefore it is small by comparison”
“It’s a short walk to the shops” – “I know it’s only a 3 minute walk, but if someone has to stop 12 times along the way it could take 20 minutes and that’s not short”
The problem was that no one knew what to write, Estate Agents had to appease their vendors and had to make the property appealing to purchasers – property particulars got worse, in fact they became embarrassing. Phrases such as “Compact and bijou” (Really small), “Access to the Motorway” (it’s at the bottom of your garden) and “Has potential” (needs total refurbishment) made Estate Agents a laughing stock and by association the properties they were selling too.
Jumping forwards to 2018 and thankfully most agents have stopped using most of the corny phrases and moved on, unfortunately to new ones that the general public sussed out straight away!
Over the last two years a worrying trend started to appear on the Estate Agents property description – “XXXXX Estate Agents is delighted/proud to offer” or “A well presented (Either extremely or very) property”, these descriptions are found not only on property particulars but also, thanks to ‘cut and paste’, appear on the property portals and it’s a mind numbing read, each property being lost in the ‘Sea of No Imagination’.
When I first started in Estate Agency the details were hand typed on typewriters, basic floor plans were drawn by hand and real photographs were glued to the front.
The Front Page: This would consist of a picture/pictures of the property, followed by a description and maybe a few star points to aid those who scanned the details. Inside: Each rooms would appear in order with sizes and descriptions (maybe a few photos next to certain rooms), a floor plan and directions to the property from the office (no Sat Nav in those days!)
Now, with the aid of powerful computers, fantastic software, digital cameras and a whole host of technological advancement at our finger tips, property particulars have transformed into ….. Exactly the same as they used to be!
During my last stint as a vendor, I put this to all the Estate Agents that valued my home, out of the four, three of them told me quite bluntly that “It’s all done by computer now Sir, no need for property particulars”, apart from feeling like I must look as though I went to school with Fred Flintstone, I wanted to prove to them I was right. I opened up a property portal on my iPad, found one of their properties and opened it up to view “Tell me what you see?” – “Pictures of the property”, “OK, what’s next?” I asked, “The description of the property Sir”, “and under that? Is it a list of all the rooms with sizes?” – Silence – “So, let me open your company website and click on a random property and tell me what you see”, “That’s our property template Sir” – “But in this crazy world of technology if I were to, hmm… I dunno, lets say… press the print button. Would it produce a set of details exactly the same as the ones you might hand out in your office? And is it not in exactly the same format as we saw on the property portals”, at this point the penny had dropped. I hated every second having to do that – in fact that’s a lie, I loved it!
Sadly, the layout of the property particulars have remained the same for too long and the only advantage a vendor can gain over their on market competitors is to contribute towards the written material. The vendor knows why they bought the property, the vendor is aware of changes to the area, aware of the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that went into making it a home and so what was a boring – same as everyone else – description becomes an exciting mini story that deserves to be read.
Photographs have also changed over the years, it is now so easy to instantly change one image for another, the sky is grey – not a problem, as soon as it’s blue change it over, not happy with the kitchen photo then surely one of the 30 that were taken will be fine, think an evening shot with the house all lit up would look better than the traditional day shot, then take one.
The images that are used to sell a home are so important, it’s the eye candy that draws purchasers attention and sends them towards reading about the property, leading towards viewings and onto offers. If the properties are ready for photographing Home Staging – Can You Afford Not To? and The Extra Room then all that is left is for the agent or their professional photographer to put the icing on the cake. Beware of wide angle lens photos – some can distort portions of the room not giving it the appeal it should have!
Lastly the vendor has the final say on the particulars, if they don’t like them why on earth would a potential purchaser. Never panic that it may take a while to get these spot on – the vendor has instructed the agent and the agent can still talk about the property and arrange viewings even before the details are ready to “Go Live”.