Selling Property £2m+ but Stuck in a Becalmed Market? Read on…

After 3 years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I had a development of two £2.45m properties in Putney, South West London nearing completion. The properties received rave reviews, as the highest quality property to come on to the market in years. As such,  I had agents queuing round the block vying for the opportunity to sell the products of my endeavours. All were supremely confident that they would be able to dispose of the properties for me within 3 months and that the asking price would be achieved if not exceeded, which would have meant a record £ per sqft for this area. Unfortunately, this was February 2012…

The following month, the government decided to unexpectedly raise the stamp duty to 7% for property over £2m (15% for overseas or company buyers) and the persistent murmurings of a new mansion tax began to surface. Needless to say the overt confidence of the previously bullish agents began steadily to evaporate as buyers went to ground and that sector of the market ground to an abrupt halt. Does this sound familiar, perhaps just swap 2012 for 2015?

Fast forwards six months, London was looking glorious in the sunshine and the Olympics was filling the city with a rarely seen sea of joy and smiles. My brand new properties with their open plan, full width, retractable sliding doors and by now fully established landscaping were looking glorious! Unfortunately, for me the sea of serious potential buyers had dried to barely a trickle. We had held the obligatory, excitable open day, we had dressed and then undressed the property, placed expensive advertisements in the press, reviewed the asking price to reflect the rise in purchase costs, instructed new agents who promised the earth, we had even made alterations to the properties based on viewer feedback. All to no avail, nothing was working.

It is frustrating enough for an owner occupier to be stuck in a stagnant market, especially when other sectors are booming, but for a developer this can be terminal!

Indebted to a recently nationalised bank that seemed to be teetering towards oblivion and increasingly twitchy investors, the excitement of the beginning of the year seemed a very long way away indeed! The choice was stark, reduce the asking price again, perhaps even to below £2m to sell the property and move on (almost £1m or 20% less than had been confidently forecast just six months ago) or find another solution.

Clearly the first option had to be the last and so I searched high and low for something that would give my properties an edge to differentiate them from other stock in the area. I needed to both maximise our exposure and expand our catchment area so new buyers could be found. I knew that what we had built was brilliant but I needed to give potential buyers as much incentive as possible to make the effort to journey to my property, wherever they may be!

It was at this time that I began to explore the filming of property. Everyone knows of Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces, this was the level of production value that I knew that I needed to do justice to my houses and entice my elusive quality buyers. As such, I went exploring but sadly the offerings of the various existing generic video production companies were boring, poor quality, showed all the wrong things and were definitely not the solution to my problem. However, unperturbed as only a man with a dream (or an unassailable mountain of debt) can be, I recruited my own production team and appointed myself ‘Director’. On the day of the shoot we were blessed with perfect conditions and despite the efforts of Ennis, Farah and Rutherford to distract, something far more important happened that day, we produced the film that would eventually lead to the birth of a new company, and the production of many more films but most importantly would sell BOTH my properties!

A week after filming, I travelled down to the production studios to see the first draft of our Olympic creation. It was exactly as I had envisaged and with a few tweeks, we suddenly had not only the best houses for sale in Putney but the best film of houses in Putney, probably the UK too!  This is what we created

Full of beans and blessed with a new hope, I gave my two incumbent agents the film to use as they wished. What happened next was remarkable.

One agent whilst undoubtedly impressed with the film, unbeknownst to me at the time, quietly shied away from the new, put it aside and carried on as before, unsurprisingly with the same non-results.

My second agent readily embraced my film and put it on their website, property portals, social media, emails and showed to clients who came into their offices both in Putney and further afield.

Completely against the direction of the market, viewings from agent number 2 began to steadily increase as more local buyers began to take note. The quality of the viewings increased too as potential buyers from further afield were prepared to make the effort to visit as they were able to see the value they could get for their money in an area they would not have previously considered. Suddenly we had offers starting to be made, yes offers as in the plural!

Both my properties eventually sold, through my second agent, to buyers outside of the initial catchment area, who would have never considered a property in Putney until they had seen the film and made the effort to visit. We achieved £2.3m per house, which admittedly not what we had hoped for pre-budget bad news, was £600,000.00 more than what would have been achieved by those who recommended reducing the asking price below the £2m threshold! I will not claim all the credit, undoubtedly our agent excelled himself in dealing with the buyers once they had been hooked by the film but by his own admission he would unlikely have had that opportunity to do so without it. A pretty good return for a few thousand pounds and a Saturday in the sun!

Brickflickr Films and CGI now work with a growing number of the UK’s top luxury property developers, interior designers and estate agents to give top property the edge and help find the right buyers.

All the very best,

Olli Thomas

Brickflickr MD


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