union-jack
Having agreed two sales outside of London last month – one not so far away in Faversham in Kent, the other somewhat further afield in Matlock, Lancashire – our experiment with selling unusual living spaces in other UK locations appears to have worked. And so from 2017 we’ll be making a thing of spreading the word about Unique Property Company to other UK locations.

Both sales were agreed to people who currently live in London and who simply don’t want or need to be in the city all the time anymore. What become clear during the marketing process is that people living in London who are looking to buy a property elsewhere in the UK would much rather deal with an agent in London if at all possible. But when it comes to alternative living spaces, that option hasn’t really been available.

There is something of a shared mentality with people who work and live in the capital. Perhaps it’s to do with similar interests or a similar working environment, but there is clearly an understanding of the lifestyle that Londoners lead. And that common experience can help to inform the sort of domestic or cultural requirements someone might have when buying a property in another UK city or indeed rural location.

As we’ve discovered with lofts and alternative living spaces in London, people tend to search outside the parameters of Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Instead, they look for a specific type of space, or an agent that deals with it, rather than having to select “2 bed flat” in the hope of locating a loft, converted church, former foundry or other weird and wonderful space. They tend to like a chat, or at least a lengthy email correspondence, because their search is far more personal and particular than a regular buyer looking for a regular property.

Britain is full of unique homes. In fact, most of them exist outside of London and in some incredible buildings that reflect the agricultural, industrial, educational and religious heritage of the nation. London has certainly led the way in converting them into extraordinary houses, apartments and indefinable living spaces, but the rest of the country has caught on through television shows like Grand Designs, property supplements in national newspapers and of course the creative folk who turn up somewhere and create an interesting something-or-other from a former something else.

The distinctive profile of the Unique Property Company audience and the particular profile of our company give us access to people who don’t turn to property portals as their first action in searching for a new home. So if you or someone you know has a unique, unusual or alternative living space anywhere in the UK, let’s talk!

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Green-shoots-of-social-media-success
So… we’ve really been going at our social media in the second half of 2016 to see how far we could get. And we are beginning to see some real signs of quality and positive engagement along with an ever-increasing number of followers.

As we write this piece, we have just passed 3,600 followers on our Instagram account and 2,500 likes on our Facebook page. It’s a particularly incredible and somewhat unbelievable result for us; until June we’d been lingering around 200 followers on our Instagram account for some time, but putting in the effort has brought in the rewards and people are clearly enjoying it.

And, of course, that is the key. Is our page providing enjoyment? As sales people, our natural instinct is to sell, but people who want to buy a property would probably already be registered with us. Realising that social media is entirely about being social (duh!) has been a real breakthrough for us and demonstrates that our business has another side to it.

One of the things about being an estate agent is that, at its core, it’s a really enjoyable job. It’s a privilege when someone chooses you to act for him or her in the sale or letting of their property: the buzz you get when they tell you is a really wonderful feeling. It’s not about beating other estate agents; it’s about the show of faith and trust that is being displayed.

It is extremely easy to look at every expense of time or money as needing to have a specific measurable return on investment. The whole “show me the money” thing is, we think, what presents the main obstacle to estate agents with their social media activity. Their view is that if it can’t be shown to have a specific monetary return, then it’s an unnecessary expense. While that does somewhat miss the point of being social, we suspect their struggle with social media may also come from feeling they have nothing to say that anyone would be interested in.

The thing is, if there is any country in the world where property is a nationwide discussion, it’s the UK. They say “an Englishman’s home is his castle” and that is very true. We love our homes; we love making them great; we love talking about them. And we are unmatched in Europe over how much we aspire to own a property. It’s a subject that couldn’t be more social if it tried.

So our view is that estate agents are genuinely missing a trick if they are not engaging heavily with social media. It is a completely and radically different model of communication with which to engage with your audience in a way never before possible. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show the world exactly what we do, why we do it and why we love it so much.

For an industry that struggles so much with its public image, it’s a total no-brainer.

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