Sell your home with social media: how one couple are showing us how it’s done

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Watch out Kirstie and Phil. Martin and Mary Wells from Doulting, Somerset could well give Britain’s favourite TV property couple a run for their money after coming up with an entertaining and unique way to sell their family home.

Meet Martin and Mary Wells, Somerset’s answer to Kirstie and Phil (scroll down to watch the video)

Martin, a consultant media lecturer and Mary, an art technician at a local school, put their home on the market 14 weeks ago through estate agent Charles Barnard. Frustrated with the lack of solid interest in their five bedroom home, the couple – who have two teenage children –  slashed its price from £295,000 to £289,950.

But they didn’t stop there. The couple sat down and brainstormed for creative ways to promote the home to a wider audience and the result is a full campaign that includes social media in the form of YouTube, facebook and twitter, as well as a massive 2ft by 8ft For Sale banner on the side of their home.

The videos are great fun. In the first one Martin and Mary imitate Kirstie and Phil while giving a tour of their local village. In the other two videos you get more Martin and Mary being themselves and having a great old time showing us why they love their family home – bloopers and all.

“We didn’t want to be staid and boring we wanted to have some fun in it,” Martin, who has a background in film editing, explained. “We just thought we could say it differently, we could say it with video, we could use the web to our advantage and create something that is completely different.”

“Stop it with the dog, we’re not selling the dog”

And they have. While YouTube is cluttered with boring video tours of properties, the Wells’ efforts – all shot on an iPhone camera – stand alone as authentic, a bit rough around the edges, but also really very funny at times. They have other videos planned too, including a QVC shopping channel-inspired film, one based on a dog cam (the dog is featured in the film titled Annexe) and a double-glazing-style ‘buy the house and get a car thrown in’ video.

But what does their estate agent think of all this extra marketing? “Steve, our estate agent is right behind us,” Martin says. “He’s doing what he can, they have the brochures we’ve produced in their office, but he obviously has limitations about what they can do from a legal perspective.”

In the meantime, the Wells – who plan to downsize, but stay local once they’ve sold – seem to have inadvertently taught us all a lesson about selling a home in a challenging property market. You can see the property on facebook, interact with Martin via twitter (@houseforsale55) or watch the YouTube films to get a feel for the home’s family credentials. There’s a definite viral element to the films too, which encourages sharing.

“As you can tell, we both get really excited about these things,” says Martin. “We’re both really creative and we just want to do it differently.”

And they’ve certainly done that.

“We both like having fun we enjoy ourselves and we approached our estate agent with this and said: look we know you’ve tried the normal way of selling and while we’ve had loads of people through the door it’s not happened so what’s up.”

November 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM Leave a comment

Renting with pets: How to bark up the right tree when it comes to a new home

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

One of the consequences of our hot rental market is that it’s making things even more difficult for those whose households include a four-legged friend.

Lets with Pets – how to find you (and Fido) a new home

Dogs Trust, who run a scheme called Lets with Pets – which aims to help pet owners find private homes to rent - has noticed the issue too: they’ve recorded a 56% increase in the number of people taking their dogs to the pound because of housing problems.

They’ve also been talking directly to people about their experiences of renting a home and found 1 in 3 of the 5,695 pet owners surveyed said they were unable to find a suitable property. Those without a Fido or Kitty spend an average 50 days looking for a rental property, but the Dogs Trust research shows that over half of all pet owners spend from two months to a year searching for a home to let.

Despite their dog’s extreme cuteness, one in three pet owners say they could not find a home to rent with their pet

Clare Kivlehan, who runs Lets with Pets, says she’s working with agents and landlords to encourage them to consider allowing pets in their properties as well as giving both parties practical advice about how to make this happen.

Man’s best friend: often unwanted by private landlords

“Since we launched Lets with Pets we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of people contacting us for advice,” Kivlehan says. “We’re campaigning for lettings agents and landlords to take a ‘Pets Considered approach rather than rejecting all pets. We’d like pet owners to be able to search easily on property websites for suitable options rather than having to make individual enquiries.”

For a nation of pet lovers, the Dogs Trust research highlights a very real issue which is only going to be drawn further into focus as the weather gets colder and Christmas approaches. Unwanted pets are one thing – but having to give up your best friend because you can’t find a rental home where you’re welcome is agonizing.

Let’s hope this scheme can help sort this problem out so our furry friends can get back to doing what they do best – long walks, playing fetch and bounding about with exuberance.

November 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM Leave a comment

Would you live in a haunted house?

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Could you share your home with a ghost? And if you did find you had a poltergeist in your parlour, would you have a problem selling the property?

Get a demon discount? Would you pay more to have a poltergeist in your parlour?

As the sun sets on this year’s Halloween and the trick-or-treaters put the finishing touches to their terrifying costumes, property website Globrix has been doing some poking about in the dark to find out what effect the spirit world has on bricks and mortar.

Turns out that give or take the odd jack-o-lantern, Halloween is a lot closer to our homes than most of us might imagine. Nearly a quarter of people believe they have lived in a haunted house. A further one in ten say their home might not have actually been haunted, but it definitely had an ‘atmosphere’ about it.

But would something that goes bump in the night actually scare you off buying a home? Or would you try to strike a deal for a demon discount? Forty eight per cent of people say having a spectral presence in a home they were interested in buying would not effect the price, while 54% said they would see what living in a haunted home was like before deciding to hire an exorcist or even sell it on.

On the other hand, one in six say that – even though they don’t believe in ghosts – they still wouldn’t buy a property thought to be haunted. Apparitions in the attic could be a moaning money spinner for 17% of buyers who say they would offer lower than the asking price for a home reported to be haunted, while almost a quarter would expect to pay less than 50% for a haunted house.

And yet, especially at this time of year, there are always people for whom an eerie abode is prefereable. The survey found 1% of people would pay over the asking price for a haunted home, which we can only suppose is a case of different ghosts for different folks.

Happy Halloween to all.

October 31, 2011 at 5:50 PM Leave a comment

A home with Charles Dickens appeal

It’s not often that a brutal and cruel history can help sell a home, but the owners of Bowes Hall, a Grade II listed mansion in County Durham, are counting on a very special Charles Dickens connection to lure in the buyers.

The imposing and fully restored Bowes Hall - a grand eight bedroom home near Barnard Castle – was built during the reign of Elizabeth I. It’s now for sale for £850,000 through Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Bowes Hall was once a notorious boarding school and it’s thought it was Dickens’ inspiration for the abusive boarding school called Dotheboys Hall School featured in one of the writer’s most famous novels - Nicholas Nickleby.

Dickens visited Bowes while researching Nicholas Nickleby and stayed in the village pub, a 17th century coaching inn evocatively named The Ancient Unicorn, which is presumably how he came to hear of the school at Bowes Hall.

There’s good news for anyone tempted by this piece of literary history: Bowes Hall – which is set over three floors – has been completely restored over the past ten years. Instead of an open fire in the grate and gruel for dinner, there’s now a new breakfast kitchen and an elegant room in which to dine.

But the home still manages to retain much of its 17th century character - there’s a lovely walled garden, ornamental gates in tall stone pillars and an impressive circular driveway. There’s also three reception rooms, a gym, a games room, an office and a cellar providing a little more comfort than in Dickens’ times.

October 27, 2011 at 1:38 PM Leave a comment

Home decoration: How we’re spending big on making a house a home

One of the side effects of being a property-obsessed nation is that we’re often just as seduced by what’s going on inside our homes as what the market is up to outside.

We're spending £20 billion a year on making a house a home, according to new research

Now, new research by online retailer into spending habits reveals just how hooked we are. Apparently, as a nation we spend £20 billion each year on so-called non-functional decorative items for our homes – or more precisely, things like scatter cushions and rugs. That’s a not unreasonable £446 a year per person on furnishings.

The research also asks why we spend so much on sprucing up our nests and finds 57 per cent confess they do it to keep up with the neighbours, while 34 per cent blame the telly – or at least their desire to emulate the designer homes they see on the box.

And if you think it’s just women who want their homes to look impressive then you couldn’t be more wrong. Forty per cent of men admit they are fanatical about furnishings, compared to a more modest 31 per cent of women. The average male forks out almost £500 on interior updates annually, £100 more than their female counterparts, and spends 16 working days per year – or ten hours each month – trawling the shops for items to update their homes.

Women in their 50s are the only group more obsessed with their homes than the average bloke, with one in five admitting to hitting homewares stores for 20 hours a month, averaging 45 minutes per day, and splurging nearly £600-a-year on their habit.

We're spending up big on cushions like this one

All of a sudden my cushion obsession doesn’t seem quite so out of control.


October 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM 1 comment

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