Interview With Story of Home – The Next Generation of Estate Agents

Estate Agent Today asked for our thoughts on how to get more coverage for local estate agency firms, the inspiration behind our name, the impact of Covid and where we stand on social media. Read the full article by Nat Daniels below.

The Next Generation of Estate Agents

I spoke with Mathew Walters, who co-founded Story of Home with Stuart Aikman in 2020 – a venture which had been many years in the making.

“It might seem like madness to some, starting a business in the midst of a global pandemic, but it is often said that the best businesses are born out of crisis,” Mathew explains.

“We want SoH. to be at the forefront of the next generation of estate agents. We act for clients across the whole of Central London, in areas such as Marylebone, Dalston, Holland Park, Stoke Newington and Little Venice, to name a few, but we hope to expand to other parts of the country over time.

He adds: “We focus on homes that are interesting and quirky, that have impressive period features or amazing views. Homes with a story, that we can tell.”

The company has three main USPs, he tells me. “The first is our team – we are a senior team with extensive experience of the London market. We are skilled negotiators and passionate about achieving the best possible outcome. All Story of Home clients work directly with one of the business owners.”

The second USP is the brand and approach. “We bring each home to life through stylish photography and property descriptions that tell the story of the home through the eyes of its current owner. This helps prospective buyers to more easily visualise whether the property they’re viewing is the right one for them,” he says.

The third USP. ”We have successfully integrated technology into our business model, to benefit the experience and results for our clients. We are working with the companies at the forefront of the next wave of ‘PropTech’ innovation, that help agents to do their job more efficiently, and improves the experience of the buyer and seller during the process.”

But where did the inspiration for the name come from? “We had discussed launching our own agency for several years. Although the London property market is fiercely competitive, we firmly believe there is room for a new breed of estate agent,” Mathew says.

“The name ‘Story of Home’ evolved out of the brand values that we set right at the start. We had a clear vision of what we wanted the brand to represent, and how we wanted to be perceived by our clients.”

He adds: “We believe that people don’t just buy a property, they buy a home, a lifestyle. As a buyer, you have to be able to envisage yourself living there as soon as you open the brochure, or walk through the door. And it’s our job as agents to help clients find a home that not only fits their budget, and is in the right location, but one that fits their lifestyle.”

They were at a bar in Berlin when they came up with the name and ‘it just seemed to work’.

The importance of social media through Covid-19

“We believe that social media has generally been underused by estate agents with marketing budgets focused on traditional channels such as leaflets and canvass letters,” Mathew continues.

“Covid-19 has meant that people are spending more time at home, and as a consequence, screen time is higher than ever. Incorporating social media and display advertising helps agents reach a wider network of buyers. At SoH. we use a platform powered by A.I. that tracks buyer behaviour and pushes our ads to those considering a move.”

Alongside paid social, the company has invested in building its Instagram and Facebook accounts, showcasing its new listings but also useful content such as area guides, industry insights articles and information about the team and the company.

But, while social media has proved useful to many during Covid-19, what has the impact of the pandemic itself had on a company which started during it?

“Although starting a business in the middle of a pandemic is always going to be tough, it has in many ways presented an opportunity. As a start-up, we are very agile and can respond quickly,” Mathew says.

“We began setting up the infrastructure of the business in May 2020, during the first UK ‘lockdown’. This period of relative inactivity gave us the thinking time to build our brand, approach technology providers, and begin conversations with our contacts.”

He concludes: “Ultimately, we believe that buyers and sellers increasingly align themselves with brands and companies offering products and services that fit their lifestyle, and this is true of the property sector as well. Clients will approach us because they find our brand and values refreshing, and trust us to present their property stylishly and market it intelligently.”

Fantastic answers, chaps. Before I go, just time to wish all readers of this column and the Today sites, and all our member agents of The ValPal Network, a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. Let’s hope it’s a bit easier on us than 2020!

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today.