For Sale - our private sale board!
Having lovingly restored and remodelled our bungalow inside and out over a four year period, a combination of running out of space plus craving a fresh challenge put moving firmly on our minds. We’ve always been passionate about property, particular in re-architecting interiors and applying our minimalist, midcentury-inspired aesthetic to the spaces created, but having spent a number of years working in property marketing too, we were eager to face the ultimate challenge: could we actually market and sell our house ourselves, privately, without an estate agent and the might of rightmove?

The question quickly changed from ‘could we…’ to ‘how could we not?!’  Our property, along with the development it was situated in had a particularly interesting story to tell, and we felt certain that a typical estate agency brochure simply couldn’t capture the history and lifestyle our home had to offer. Agency technology marches on apace, but agents’ understanding of brand and good design is still much lacking. Estate agents in the main still rely on dated template designs that undermarket and undersell character and individual properties whose valuations don’t hit the heights of the ‘premier’ end of the market, where percentage-based fees (or often the vendors themselves) cover the cost of commissioning bespoke particulars.

After having invested so much time, love, thought and energy into the property’s remodelling, we of course wanted to achieve the best possible price. To this end, we knew we simply had to apply our combined skills of property know-how, photography, book and website design, and copywriting to market the bungalow ourselves and truly do it justice.

Although having a comprehensive understanding of the the property market, we started by calling in the local estate agents to get a feel for the property’s value. A good valuation is based on buyer demand, previous sold prices for comparable properties, the property’s specification and standard of presentation, as well as current market conditions. It would have been foolish to have placed a price on the property based on our own thoughts and personal attachment; after all, we wanted to move home (at this point having possibly found our next project) and so were eager to sell quickly with as few viewings as possible, whilst still achieving the best possible price. We also wanted to see if they ‘got’ the property and, should we need to instruct a local agent if our plan failed, which one would be best able to extoll the bungalow’s virtues when handling enquiries.

We also called in The Modern House: a London-based agent, highly respected and acclaimed, often in the press, and widely known for their listing of unique and architecturally interesting properties. We were flattered that they were willing to take our property on (knowing how they restrict their listings to properties with provenance) and we knew that they would bring it a good deal of attention, however, we knew that if we placed it with an estate agent from the outset we’d always wonder ‘what if…?’  And so, after much deliberation, we decided to present the bungalow to the market under our own steam in initially, and keep The Modern House option in reserve as a plan B.

We hatched a strategy, as follows:

1. Getting ready

  • Timing — We waited for the good weather to arrive so that the gardens looked at their best and the doors could be opened up to show off the inside-outside living.
  • Required Paperwork — we organised for our EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) as well as a boiler service, gas safety certificate, and collated all the relevant instruction manuals, guarantees and receipts as a handover pack).
  • Preparation — already living like minimalists, the house was made spotless throughout, woodwork freshly painted, parquet polished with extra thought given to planting and outdoor staging.

2. Marketing Materials

  • Photography — we photographed the house at its best, knowing when each room got the best of the light and staging each space as required;
  • Research — with Edgcumbe Park having such an interesting history both architecturally (being a unique Midcentury development) and cinematographically (being the setting for Truffaut’s 1966 film of Fahrenheit 451), we took time to go through the archives to tell the story of the development, adding value and another dimension;
  • Plot Plan — rather than the usual floor plan, we wanted to show how the house sat in its unusual quarter-circle plot and how we’d landscaped it to provide garden zones as ‘rooms outside’. We drew and then digitised a bespoke architectural-style plot plan, annotated and labelled;
  • The Details — we compiled full room descriptions with details of fixtures, fittings, finishes, keeping them completely factual in accord with the Property Misdescriptions Act (PMA);
  • The Local Area — we wrote about the locality, its amenities, facilities, things to do, places of interest (and places to shop and eat too);

…we then wove all these elements together to create…

  • The ‘Selling’ Book — we collated all our photographs, research, descriptions and graphics into a beautiful 44-page book — not only a great selling tool but also the perfect keepsake for us, and the new purchasers. We effectively gave the property its own brand identity which carried through all materials and marketing, taking its inference from the style, architectural elements and even typefaces of the Midcentury era to craft the look and layout. We made an ISSUU flickbook and added it to a microsite for the property (see below) and a short print-run of softcover versions to give to interested parties. We also ordered lovely hard-backed versions from Blurb for us, and the new purchasers to treasure.
  • The ‘Renovation’ Book — so pleased with our Selling book, we collated all our ‘before, during and after’ shots to produce another 44-page book documenting the renovation of the bungalow. Not least as a keepsale for us, but also a persuasive tool to put buyers off the other local renovation projects on the market at that time. Our observation was that, when pushed, most purchasers didn’t want to undertake this level of remodelling themselves. This book also served to ensure we received offers as close as possible to the asking price, as it made clear the time, energy, vision and money we’d invested. Read more about the remodelling and see our Renovation Book here.
  • Website — we secured relevant domain names and created a microsite for the bungalow containing our ISSUU flickbooks, along with further details, links for sharing over social media networks, plus the all-important enquiry form.

iPad showing the Edgcumbe Park microsite for selling our bungalow


3. Marketing

  • Emailshot — we designed an email which we sent out to our mailing list in order to start spreading the word;
  • Social Media — with the microsite live to the world, we launched a campaign across social media channels including twitter and Facebook to encourage people to visit the site and to share it among their friends and networks;
  • Portals — as private sellers it remains impossible to list a property on the big portals such as rightmove and primelocation, however a number of smaller (though still poorly known) portals exist: we opted for Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo – a free listing service for private sellers – and pointed visitors back to our microsite;
  • Blogs — we contacted several prominent bloggers in property and design who were more than happy to write about our house and its sale… and as word spread, we were approached by a number of other blogs worldwide. The hits went through the roof, and our bungalow went viral;
  • Magazine — as a result of our digital campaign, we were approached by Midcentury Magazine – the editors visited the bungalow, interviewed us and ran a 10 page feature on the property, Edgcumbe Park, even including a ‘Get The Look’ section;
  • For Sale Board — We also designed and erected our own aptly-styled For Sale board for the front lawn.
the bungalow featured on wowhausthe bungalow featured on dreamwallstyleblogthe bungalow featured on design-your-housethe bungalow featured on whatkatiedoesthe bungalow featured on desire-to-inspirethe bungalow featured on freckles-and-ashthe bungalow featured on Carrie Lieber's blog bloomacious
Midcentury Magazine

…with the blogs inviting great comments such as:

If I was a realtor I would be taking serious notes. The design of the webpage and the two brochures blows away any home marketing material I have ever seen. Doesn’t it make you want to move right in?

Sarah, Freckles & Ash

4. Enquiries

  • Tracking the hits — we kept a close eye on our Google Analytics, tweets on Twitter and ‘likes’ on Facebook, photos shared on sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest, as well as hits on our ISSUU brochures (approaching 10,000 views) and to our site from the numerous blogs featuring our story, and of course hits originating from Tepilo;
  • Sources — We had a number of strong enquiries via the website and via the For Sale board (which actually generated a lot of interest, resulting in phone calls as well as direct knocks on the door);
  • Viewings — We hosted all viewings ourselves, complete with carefully chosen soundtrack, fresh coffee, pastries and even the weekend newspapers on the table. This may all sound cliché… but it certainly sells a lifestyle. We were on hand to answer any questions, but allowed viewers to explore at their leisure and familiarise themselves with the space.

Result: We agreed a sale within two weeks!

  • Remarkably, our buyers only viewed the property twice. As they entered the house on their first viewing, they said they already knew it inside out from our brochure… and afterwards, that we’d portrayed the property accurately – which was really great to hear.

SOLD! We sold our property without an estate agent
5. Sales progression

  • We progressed the sale ourselves, dealing directly with the buyers and the solicitors to keep on top of the process, whilst also managing the progression of our purchase. Having the direct lines of communication really did feel as though it helped to keep things moving, right through to completion and handover of keys.

6. On completion

  • Along with a special hard-backed copy of the sales book plus the Edgcumbe Park archives on disk, we also provided our buyers with a step-by-step guide with everything they needed to know about the running of the property, from bin days to favoured tradespeople, as well as the handbook of manuals and guarantees.  We also provided a neighbourhood plan — a diagram of the surrounding properties, labelled with who lives where, to make the new owners feel immediately at home.

Local estate agents were somewhat lost for words at our result, admitting that they didn’t think we’d succeed without having a rightmove listing (which, in fairness, was our major concern). Our marketing efforts didn’t go unnoticed though: a number admitted they used our booklet to help demonstrate to their applicants the potential held in other properties on the development. One told us that we shouldn’t underestimate what we’d done for the local area, not least having brought in many out-of-town buyers purely through our marketing, so much so that we came home to find a lovely bottle of fizz on the doorstep in acknowledgement!

All in all, a sterling result. A successful move, over £10,000 saved in commission, and our property published online and in print for posterity.

You can do it too

As you can no doubt tell, we’re truly passionate about property and its presentation — especially having seen the results that quality materials and marketing can achieve.  Bungalow Industries are available to help you to present your home the way it should be present for maximum impact — and to achieve the best possible price for its sale.  Whether you’re looking to sell privately, or via an estate agent, our approach will not only add value — you’ll have a wonderful keepsake of your cherished property forever.

Bungalow Industries - experts in property presentation and private sale

Call us on 07999 378914 to discuss how we can apply our proven approach to the successful sale of your property.