“I love your house.”
As I said these words, the lady in front of me at the scrubbed kitchen table put her head in her hands as tears rolled down her cheeks.
At first, I had no idea what was wrong. I touched her hand gently and said, are you okay? She looked at me through tear-filled eyes and said, “you love my home”.
“Yes”, I said.
“That means everything”, she said.
This lady has been trying to sell her beautiful rural farmhouse for years with no success. If we were asked to sell a house, we would be the fourth agent to try to do so.
“I don’t think any of them liked my house,’ this lady said to me. “I just didn’t get that impression”.
“But” I said, “how can they sell something they don’t love?”
I certainly can’t.
This need for transparency and honesty that I have when talking to people in their own homes can be a double edged sword; in fact, Phil and I often joke that he can tell straight away if I don’t like a house we visit because I am usually putting my coat on and out the door before we finish our cup of tea! I’m not very good at hiding my feelings.
But to me, I have to love a house to sell it. And, I have to love the people whose house we’re selling. To me it’s a perfect triangle, of us – their biggest advocates and ambassadors – their home and themselves. Only when that triangle is at its very, very best can you place the ideal buyer in the centre.
All of the houses we take on are unique and often very quirky. Some of our houses might have beams you have to step over, bedrooms that lead on to other bedrooms, unusual features like lime kilns in the garden, saunas in the basement, or major national footpaths bisecting their property. We love each and every one of them. Not in spite of their quirks, but because of them, because their quirks are what makes them the homes they are and the lifestyles they offer.
Not everybody will love all the homes we offer, of course. But it only takes one buyer to love that home just as much as we do and just as much as its owner originally did, for it to prove a perfect match. Very often we find that the perfect buyer is actually very similar to the seller when they moved in. So if the seller has lived in their home for 30 years, we’re really looking for them 30 years ago to buy it again. After all, if they’ve had a good chapter in their house, maybe it’s time for them to continue to their next chapter somewhere else and for a buyer to have their next chapter in this home.
Selling a home for us is about handing over the reins of responsibility and residency to somebody new – to the next generation of homeowner. It’s never about the house. It’s never about the bricks and mortar. It’s always about the life that has been lived in that house; the memories, the tears, the joys, the ups and downs, the laughter, the Christmases, the birthdays, the puppies, the homework battles, and the general life detritus that every home has.
When a buyer walks into a home and can sense this kaleidoscope, this rich patchwork quilt of the life that has been lived there, and feels a connection with that house, feels that they too could create their own patchwork quilt of memories in that house, then we know we have a match: the perfect buyer. The buyer that deserves this home. The person who really is going to make that house their own and who loves the house for all the reasons we the current owners love it.
Then, its quirks become its benefits. Those idiosyncrasies become reasons to fall in love with the house, and the house draws them in.
No matter how logical and analytical somebody is when they’re looking at a house, they always always buy for emotional reasons. They buy because it feels right – not because the numbers add up. They want it because they can see themselves in the kitchen, cooking for friends and family. They buy because they want that view from their bedroom when they open their curtains in the morning. They want to buy because that house has their name on it and they strongly believe it. And they cannot imagine themselves living anywhere else.
That’s what our unique homes do for people. They give them a sense of identity, a purpose, a lifestyle that means something. A lifestyle that maybe they’ve dreamt of for many, many years, maybe decades. A lifestyle they deserve, that they’ve worked for. A promise that they made themselves, this is the fulfilment of that promise. That’s why it means so much. That’s why our job is so important to us. That’s why when we put a buyer, a seller and a home together, we know what we are actually creating is something truly magical.
And that’s why we do what we do.