Put your house up for sale with an estate agent and you're welcoming the entire world into your living room - if you're not getting any viewings it's nothing to do with the price, it's because people don't like you.
Before Loyd Grossman began marketing pour-over sauces he was involved with an altogether different kind of cheese; he was the virtual guide around the houses of the rich and famous on a TV programme called Through The Keyhole. Panellists on the ITV show would have to guess the owner of a house based solely upon a VT guided tour by Loyd Grossman moving from room to room, pointing out certain tell-tale features or characteristics which betrayed the identity of the house's celeb owner. The clear inference here being that your own taste and decor can reveal your true identity. Very rarely was the celeb's house full of tat and, more often than not, our '80s Bucks Fizz-quaffing audience was left impressed by the good taste decor it saw.
Well of course the audience was left impressed; that was the whole point of the TV show! Back in the '80s Hello magazine didn't exist but celebs have agents and PR has always been the oxygen that sustains those in the public eye. PR was, is and will always be so important that a celeb and/or their agent would have had a stylist in to give the house a once over before letting the Through The Keyhole camera crew over the threshold.
Thankfully, neither Loyd Grossman nor Through The Keyhole are on our TV screens these days but this doesn't mean we've lost our curiosity and it certainly doesn't mean that we've lost the cheese from our TV screens as just one viewing of Come Dine With Me will prove. For those of you hankering for the thrill of TV in the '80s simply fire up any old estate agent's website and, almost instantaneously, you'll find yourself transformed into Loyd Grossman as you find yourself staring at tat and asking yourself "who on earth lives like this and thinks that this decor is either tasteful or well-styled?"
A family member is currently selling a house so, obviously, we went straight onto the estate agent's website to see the house and saw the huge amount of effort that had gone into preparing house for sale. Now, first of all, there's the fact that Mrs W & I didn't phone-up to pop round for a tour of the house, freshly prepped for viewings, with a cuppa and a Hobnob or three; no, we went online. Secondly, we both recall how appalled we were at just how lazy the estate agent's website made the estate agent appear. The most basic and, in a couple of instances, blatantly incorrect property descriptions had been written and it appeared that the lazy estate agent was simply relying on the photos to sell the viewing. Now, thirdly, I like this house yet even this wasn't enough to secure my interest because I soon discovered a new game as I lost interest in the family member's house and began looking at other properties for sale. I had begun to develop a real voyeur's interest in looking at the decoration of and the tat within other people's houses - let's face it, other people's houses are ghastly aren't they? *sniggers*
This estate agent's website was a modern day circus sideshow, filled with page after page of freakishly decorated interiors and examples of homeowners that have learned their styling tips from daytime makeover TV shows. These ghastly by products of bank holiday specials at B&Q simply exist to prove that, when it comes to doing it yourself (marketing your own property, that is) most people haven't got a bloody clue.
Now, I'm not for one moment suggesting that the decor of my own house is a lift from a glossy property magazine but you can be assured that if my house were to go on the market and I invited the world into my living room I'd do a whole lot more than cut the grass and throw a vacuum round the place. I'd learn from companies whose business it is to sell new houses. House and property development companies know that correctly presenting the interiors of new houses is a vital aspect of selling the dream. Interiors are neutral, de-personalised and, most of all, tat-free with just enough furniture optimally placed to suggest the maximum amount of space.
I've always believed that there's a difference between selling a house and marketing a home. If estate agents were empowered to genuinely market properties (just as PR agents market celebs) then you'd find that this new breed of estate agent would send in a SWAT team to de-clutter, de-personalise and redecorate the house to a neutral scheme; very much in the way that new homes are painted in magnolia throughout so that buyers can see themselves and not the former occupants living in the house. What buyers see when they look at your home on an estate agent's website isn't your house but you and your lifestyle.
If your estate agent isn't getting any viewings for you then consider the possibility that it's not the price that's putting prospective buyers off but, in fact, you and the way you live your life. When buyers look at a property website what they're looking for, more often than not, is a house that'll improve their quality of life so if they don't view your home through the keyhole opened-up by the estate agent's website and aspire to live like you they're never going to contact the agent for a viewing appointment.
Using the metaphor of the estate agent's website it's easy, isn't it, to understand how getting a 3rd party's objective input of styling and presentation can make a huge difference to online sales. Your business is no different. House developers spend a fortune with interior designers to optimise showhomes to get them looking their neutral best. Given half a chance, estate agents would love to emulate Kirsty & Phil and would jump at the chance to properly market homes just so prospective buyers can see past the present occupants and see themselves calling that house a home.
Just as properties for sale need to be optimised for mass appeal so do websites. No matter how much you love your business and what you do, unless you are able to look at your business the way your Customers will, your website will never appeal to prospective buyers. Website optimisation goes way beyond getting a website to the top of the search engine results pages; website optimisation is about welcoming your Customers into your business' living room, not inflicting your own particular taste and decor upon them and letting them imagine doing business with you - an aspirational business partner solving their current issues, preventing future problems and able to improve their bottom line.