Why homes on the in­ter­net are not al­ways what they seem

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Tim Blenkin

I EN­JOYED Tim War­ing’s ar­ti­cle re­cently about the power of the in­ter­net, and its power to mis­lead.

It struck a chord with me. I have just sold a vil­lage house near York for a fig­ure in the re­gion of £700,000 – but it nearly did not hap­pen.

Af­ter ini­tial in­ter­est from a num­ber of par­ties, I had a tele­phone call from one. It went like this: “Mr Blenkin, we were go­ing to make a sec­ond ap­point­ment to look at that house, but there is a sewage farm right be­hind it; ei­ther that or a silo, so they must be keep­ing pigs or hens next door. I’m afraid that rules it out for us.”

And who could blame that prospec­tive buyer? Ex­cept...I was com­pletely baf­fled that a quiet cen­tral vil­lage lo­ca­tion could har­bour any­thing as nox­ious as a treat­ment plant, and, had there been a pig or bat­tery chicken unit so ad­ja­cent, I like to think I would have no­ticed it.

So I went to prospect for my­self, and boldly parked at the rear of the next door house, whose land did, in­deed, match with that of the house we had for sale. And what did I find? A horse-walker.

It had been pho­tographed for Google Earth from a few miles up, and so it showed up on that web­site as a round and sus­pi­cious blob. I can see how it could be eas­ily mis­taken for any of the alarm­ing and unattrac­tive items my wary buyer had iden­ti­fied.

For­tu­nately, while that buyer had in­deed taken fright, another was soon found and the deal went through. We shall never know how many view­ings do not take place be­cause of mis­lead­ing photographs putting peo­ple off.

On the other hand, I do not need to elab­o­rate on the mer­its of web­sites and our abil­ity to harness their power to mar­ket prop­erty.

Why, last week, the first en­quiry for a house we mar­keted came within hours from Saudi Ara­bia, and two of our sales this year went to buy­ers from Sin­ga­pore, both of whom found their house online.

There are two things I re­sent, how­ever. One is the anonymity. Ev­ery month, the prop­erty por­tal Rightmove tells me that nearly a mil­lion peo­ple have seen houses mar­keted by Blenkin & Co on their web­site and yet I prob­a­bly get to talk to no more than 50 of them.

In the bad old days, prein­ter­net, buy­ers who were se­ri­ous made them­selves known to the agents who might sell the kind of prop­erty they were seek­ing. Then a re­la­tion­ship of sorts was formed and deals were done.

“I’ll be on your doorstep ev­ery Tues­day morn­ing when I come into York un­til you find me a house,” said one. She was, and we did.

Mind you, she would not bother any­way now be­cause driv­ing into or close to York’s his­toric cen­tre is not an op­tion thanks to road clo­sures.

My sec­ond worry is just as se­ri­ous. Ev­ery house mar­keted has only fif­teen sec­onds to make an im­pres­sion. Put “four beds, gar­den. £400-500,000, York area” into a site and what do you get? Prob­a­bly up­wards of 200 houses. You scroll down the page, and if the pic­ture, sum­mary of ac­com­mo­da­tion, and price do not turn your head, you go right past.

Now tell me that pric­ing is not im­por­tant. Over-egg it and your first and ar­guably most ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing tool is nul­li­fied. The rea­son a house takes a long time to sell isn’t “the mar­ket”. It’s the agent. So when you choose the man or woman to sell your house, con­sider ask­ing the ques­tion “and what is your av­er­age sale time per house?”

The ones who over­price – and we all know who they are – have be­tween them slowed the mar­ket over the past five years, and we are only now see­ing sales at a level we should all want.

“It’s on with so-and-so, I ex­pect the price will come down in a few weeks” is not the re­ac­tion my ven­dor clients would want to hear.

Tim Blenkin is a Char­tered Sur­veyor and Di­rec­tor of Blenkin & Co es­tate agency in York.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.