Housing market: Are novelty homes tough to sell?

Does a unique feature - like a Tardis for a bathroom - affect your chance of selling your house?

The striking thing about the downstairs toilet at the Richards' family home is that it is much bigger on the inside than you might expect.

Yet it should be no great surprise as father-of-two Max Richards has built an impressively accurate replica of the Tardis to serve as a door.

The Police Box convenience is by far the most unusual aspect of the family's picturesque converted barn in the Devon countryside.

Now the property is on the market, is the Tardis a distraction for potential buyers, or an idiosyncrasy that lodges it in their memory?

"People like it, they laugh a bit, but they like the look of it," says Dr Richards, who really is a doctor, although not a Time Lord.

"Some people have walked past it and not even noticed it which I find quite hard to believe, but generally viewers see it as a positive."

Online viewings

The four-bedroom home has been for sale since June.

With many house hunters now conducting the searches on property websites, the Doctor Who loo has certainly attracted interest.

Their estate agents have told Dr Richards, 43, and his wife Jacqui, that their listing is attracting the highest number of click-throughs of any of their current stock of properties.

Yet compared with some entries on these internet portals, this unusual feature is somewhat subtle.

Property website Rightmove has listed a home complete with stairs in the style of MC Escher, a house with life-sized Blues Brothers figures and a flat fitted in nightclub decor.

Meanwhile, rival Zoopla features a converted church complete with stained glass windows and a spire.

Odd living room No longer on the market, but this was a favourite among online house hunters
Odd stairs This took the idea of unusual domestic features to another level
Sheep garden It is not just inside homes that viewers might see something they were not expecting
Blues Brothers room These characters should help the owners avoid getting the blues
Church conversion This old church has now been converted into flats
Japanese style house Meanwhile the inspiration for unusual properties may come from overseas, in this case Japan

So are unique features or a wildly wacky home a help or a hindrance when it comes to selling a property?

Miles Shipside, a founding director of Rightmove, says that sellers need to be aware that their tastes might not always be matched by those coming to have a look around.

Another fear is that sellers find they are often showing around the curious.

Start Quote

Ultimately, if a house has quality as well as more extreme features, then the quality will win out”

End Quote Miles Shipside Rightmove

"What a seller needs is a genuine buyer who is interested in the property rather than the extreme features. There is a danger that if you make your property attractive to voyeurs then they might view it for the wrong reasons," he says.

"You might not be able to spot the genuine buyer among those who are just interested in the attractive features."

Yet, he points out that tastes do change. In history, bay windows and turrets were unusual, but now they have become accepted.

"Ultimately, if a house has quality as well as more extreme features, then the quality will win out," he says.

That said, a valuer, or a potential buyer making an offer, may factor in the cost of stripping out any unusual decor when it comes to estimating how much the property is worth.

Fresh bread

Sellers are in relatively short supply in the UK housing market at present, but those who are looking to put their property on the market must not be lazy, according to Alison Cork, founder of online homeware business alisonathome.com.

Alison Cork First impressions are key when it comes to selling a home, says Alison Cork

"Even if the market is frothy, you want to create as many people around the honey pot as you can, because it is just going to increase the price that they are going to offer," she says.

She believes that viewers form an impression of the property in the first 30 seconds, so it must be "neutral, clean, light and bright" as they step through the door.

The National Association of Estate Agents suggests that sellers show off the best bit of the home and refresh, review and repair key rooms before putting it on the market.

Then, according to Ms Cork, the seller needs to appeal to viewers' senses. So it must look good, not full of clutter. It is best to switch off any loud music when viewers arrive, and then there is the smell.

"It doesn't have to be coffee and fresh bread, but it must smell clean," she says.

Time and space

Back in Devon, there is little doubt that the Tardis leaves an impression. It is not every day that you can spend a penny somewhere in time and space.

The two children, Mimi, 11, and Theo, eight, think that it makes their house a home.

Dr Richards says his work is a celebration of his favourite piece of British architecture.

But ultimately it is the architecture in which it is housed that will be judged by viewers who may or may not become buyers.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories


BBC Business Live

    09:45: UK GDP

    UK economic growth in the year to the end of September stood at 3%, the Office for National Statistics adds.

    09:30: UK GDP

    The UK economy grew by 0.7% in the three months to September, in line with City forecasts, official figures show. In the previous three months the economy grew by 0.9%. The first three months of the year were initially estimated to have seen growth of 0.8% but that was recently revised back down to 0.7%.

    09:21: TSB EARNINGS

    TSB shares are up 1.8% in London to 263.70p. Numis analyst Mike Trippitt says the bank's profit beat his estimates in a note to clients. Impairments were lower than the market thought and costs were better.


    More analysis on Greene King and C&C's offers for the Spirit pub chain. "The really interesting development, in our view, would be for all three businesses to combine. The result would be a leading pubco and a brewer, cider maker and distributor with a much stronger portfolio of brands," say analysts at City broker Canaccord Genuity this morning. "C&C also own Tennents, the leading Scottish lager. Belhaven (Greene King's Scottish estate) is a leading customer."

    08:51: BANK OF DAVE Radio 5 live

    Dave Fishwick, the minibus salesman who founded the "Bank of Dave" is on Radio 5 live. What does the banking market need? "What we desperately need out there is challenger banks," he says. What's also needed is "tighter control of the bigger banks to prevent greed and corruption," he adds.

    08:36: MARKET REPORT

    The fallout from Tesco's results yesterday continues today. The supermarket is the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 Index so far this morning down 2.3% to 167.05p. European markets are down generally. The FTSE 100 is down 0.45% to 6390.17, Germany's Dax is down 0.40% to 9011.29 and France's Cac-40 has fallen 050% to 4136.95.


    Pearson's chief executive John Fallon says the firm's £50m cost-cutting programme is on track and "momentum in digital, services and emerging market education is building, which will drive a leaner, more cash generative, faster growing business from 2015."


    Could this be the beginning of a bidding war? The pub chain has said it has rejected a takeover proposal from Irish cider maker C&C Group today. Spirit is already in talks with brewer and pub owner Greene King about its proposed £723m takeover offer. C&C, the maker of Magners and Bulmers, has until 20 November to announce a firm takeover offer.


    Pearson has reported flat underlying revenue for nine months to the end of September and a 1% fall in in what it calls headline growth for the period. It blames the strength of sterling against key emerging market currencies for the fall. Penguin Random House has performed well in the third quarter, it adds without giving detail. It says the integration of its businesses is "progressing well and is on track to deliver benefits in 2015 and beyond".

    07:38: HIKMA WARNING

    Hikma Pharmaceuticals says it has received a warning letter US Food and Drug Administration after an inspection at its manufacturing plant in Portugal. "In the letter, the agency raised issues related to investigations and environmental monitoring at the facility," said the firm, which is taking the letter "very seriously."

    07:26: TSB EARNINGS
    The TSB logo

    Impairments - that is, bad loans - fell to £23m from £32.2m, said TSB. Loans rose 7.7% to £22bn compared to a year ago, but fell from a peak of £23bn six months ago. TSB won 9.7% of all new or switched bank accounts, it said, adding £500m of deposits.


    Robin Freestone, chief financial officer of Financial Times and Penguin Random House owner Pearson has announced he is standing down after 10 years with the firm, including eight in his current role. He will probably leave the firm in 2015 after a successor has been found, said the firm.

    07:08: TSB EARNINGS

    TSB third-quarter profit before tax fell 14% to £33.1m compared with the same time a year ago, after operating expenses rose. But revenue swelled 18% to £199m

    06:54: EU PAYMENT Radio 5 live

    Sarah Hewin of Standard Chartered on 5 live says the payment has to be made in the next few months. That could mean more borrowing, she says.

    06:41: EU PAYMENT Radio 5 live
    British Prime Minister David Cameron

    Sarah Hewin of Standard Chartered is explaining why the UK has to pay an extra £1.7bn to the EU on 5 live. "The UK has been doing better since 1997 than we thought and that's resulted in this extra payment. The Netherlands will pay more, while France and Germany get a rebate."

    06:29: AMAZON RESULTS Radio 5 live

    Paul Kavanagh of wealth manager Killik is talking about Amazon's loss-making results last night. "It begs the question about what is happening here with this strategy. The shares fell 11% in after hours [in the US]." Investors may be growing tired of ever-more sales expansion with little profit to show for it, he tells 5 live.

    06:20: CHALLENGER BANKS Radio 5 live

    Paul Kavanagh of wealth manager Killik says it's difficult for banks to persuade customers they offer something new. When a challenger bank succeeds, the larger banks often take the best ideas, he says on 5 live.

    06:12: CHALLENGER BANKS Radio 5 live

    Steve Davies is still on 5 live. He says challenger banks are forcing their larger competitors to think more about the customer and service - think Metro bank opening on Sundays. Competing on rates is more difficult, he says. TSB results coming up later.

    06:03: CHALLENGER BANKS Radio 5 live

    Steve Davies of accountants PwC is on 5 live talking about so-called challenger banks. Can they challenge the largest high street banks? "They have to be able to offer something a little bit different," he says. "The challenge is around innovation," he says. Customer is key, he adds.

    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning. Get in touch via email blizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and twitter @BBCBusiness.

    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning folks. It's Friday, we're nearly at the weekend. But before that, TSB kicks off bank earnings season and Shire has financials out as well. There's also some service sector data but the big bit of data is the first estimate of third quarter GDP. We'll bring you it all as it happens as always.



From BBC Capital


  • The smartphone that answers backClick Watch

    Smartphones get smarter – the prototypes that talk and say ouch when you drop them

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.