Thu 11 Jan 2018
Character. It's a simple term and a big hitter in many an estate agent’s lexicon, but what exactly do we mean when we say a property has 'character'?
In a period house, you might find a wealth of original features or pleasing proportions. A great start, yes, but even in a "cookie cutter" building with little or no architectural merit, one can find spaces packed with personality & humanity. We live in an age of ever changing trends and these can be tricky waters to navigate when trying to futureproof a house. So what gives a property character and what is it about a characterful home that seems to have a timeless and even cross-generational appeal?
Like many animals, we have an instinctive urge to mark our territory, to put our own stamp on our living space, to say: 'this is mine!' In addition, buildings have a fascinating ability to evoke a response. Be it the way the internal spaces communicate a message or how the building itself interacts with its own immediate environment. It's a very powerful dialogue that we all tune in to, even if we don't realise it.
A characterful home will hit you as soon as, if not before, you walk through the door. Absolutely they are visually appealing places, but they are much more than just that. They will exude warmth and hospitality, they will tell us about the owners past and present and they will speak of times that only the walls have lived to see: A well-worn timber threshold into a kitchen silently tells of countless footsteps by family, friends or even staff in a bygone era catering for grand dinners. An inglenook fireplace serves as a window to a time where families would cosy up around a fire instead of an iPad. The list goes on.
It is these subtle and sometimes subconscious messages told by a house that have the power to relate to people via the powerful emotion of nostalgia. It is within this emotional response that I believe lies the key to the appeal of a characterful property.
As human beings, we pride ourselves on being rational creatures, capable of controlling our emotions and making rational decisions. Recent science however has revealed that we do not use a rational process to control our emotions; it is in fact the complete opposite. Without emotion we are incapable of making even the simplest decisions. The famous case study of Phineas Gage, a rail worker who survived a substantial brain injury wiping out the emotional centre of the brain – without emotion he was unable to make even the simplest decision.
Still today marketing professionals around the world spend a fortune trying to harness the power of emotions triggered by memories surrounding the subject, also known as the “emotional packet”. The more a person emotionally relates to a product or home, the more likely they are to ignore rational factors that could affect the decision. In simple terms, the more relatability a property boasts, the more desirable it becomes and there is nothing that our feeble human rationality can do about it!
So, celebrate the quirks of your home, take the time to tune in to the stories it has to tell and, if it is time to sell, find an Estate Agent that cares enough to do the same, for that is where the true value of your unique home lies.
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