As people’s tastes in housing change, a good estate agent will be alert to the new priorities, says Mark Rimell of Strutt & Parker St Albans.
Grazing instead of dining, everyone wanting their own ensuite bathroom, open-plan rather than opening doors…. the way people want their homes organised has changed hugely over the past 10-20 years.
Historically, people would have lots of rooms for different functions. “These days people want simplicity and flexibility, whether it is kitchen/dining rooms or large multi-purpose living areas,” continues Rimell. “Sometimes it is because space is at such a premium, people inevitably end up using the same areas for different needs.
What to call some of these rooms can be a challenge. “People use terms like open-plan, and family rooms, but these don’t necessarily communicate how the house works, and the challenge for agents is to show people just that,” says Rimell.
“More than ever, good agents have to develop the skill of listening to what a client or a buyer is saying, hearing the thinking behind it and interpreting it.” Buyers who say they simply want “a nice family home” may have a very exact idea of what they are looking for, but not necessarily be able to put their finger on an exact match.
“You have to have an intuitive understanding of their preferences and you have to be able to see how a house could work, with a bit of skill and attention,” adds Rimell.
Buyers themselves need to be up front and proactive if they want to give themselves the best chance of securing a house with a modern, flexible configuration. “Many buyers hide behind the internet,” says Rimell. “They do their searches with a very precise idea in mind, and find there’s nothing there. But we find we have properties that will have fitted the brief that never even reach the internet.”
“With the relative shortage of property around at the moment that ticks all the right boxes, buyers who don’t register with agents miss out.”
No one can guarantee what is going to appeal to whom and a wise agent will not get too fixated on a single formula. “Always prepare to be surprised,” says Rimell. “You will anticipate that your house is perfect for a young couple moving out of London, and an older couple from a nearby village will turn out to have been looking for something like it for years. You have to reach them all.”
Mark Rimell, Strutt & Parker