The journalist Juanjo Villalba wrote in the midst of a pandemic about the weakness for looking at beautiful spaces and the phenomenon of designporn during confinement. How decoration is a refuge in difficult times and creates a sense of security and attachment. And it is true, there is a kind of familiarity and comfort when we look at other people’s houses, something similar to the pleasure that comfort food in a pasta dish on a Tuesday night. And it is not surprising, living in a hyper-connected society fascinated with productivity, that people look for virtual spaces where they can imagine a better life.
All of the above makes sense when, in addition, comments appear on forums and social networks from people who look at houses for pure leisure, describing their ideal breakfast in the image of a kitchen with views. Bea de Lara and Julio de Manuel asked the same thing in their newsletter Adulting FAQ a few months ago. While De Manuel was comparing apartment prices and calculating what he could afford – or not – if he was kicked out of his apartment, De Lara began to be curious about those expensive houses for sale and their decoration. At that point, they both realized that other friends and colleagues were also experiencing the same thing. “It was equal parts anxiety and fantasy,” says Bea. “I think we like to feed that fantasy of and if (were rich) constant that we have Imagine living there and fantasizing about a better life.” But they are sure that looking at apartments on any real estate portal is also a perfect excuse to steal decorative ideas and adapt them to their own home.
In short, it is this kind of love at first sight that makes many people obsessed with looking at agencies beyond the intention of buying or renting a property. Imagining yourself living in those idyllic houses, establishing a platonic relationship with the space that doesn’t exist, is a growing sport on the internet. While it is true that most do not search as a future owner or tenant, they do so to fantasize about their lives in the English countryside or in the heart of the fashionable city. Júlia (41 years old), an illustrator from Barcelona, confesses that she enjoys looking at apartments on Idealista. “In general, it’s like a form of escape, I look for places where I would like to live. But I am also voyeurI like to imagine how the families lived in those places through their decorations”.
Great part of the fault lies with Fantastic Frank, who 13 years ago revolutionized the real estate world and changed the conception of what homes for rent and sale should be like. The secret of his success is to conceive a space in which potential clients see its real possibilities, turning each image that is seen into a home. his motto is inspire to buy and see if they get it. Present in five countries, including Spain ―with offices in Mallorca, Ibiza, and Barcelona―, the company was born in 2010, in a teenage age on the internet where you only saw the typical apartment ads with images made with wide angles and excessively retouched. Its founders, the Swedes Tomas Backman, Sofie Ganeva, Swen Wallén and Mattias Kardell, were clear that they needed to escape from this unattractive and excessively technical cliché, becoming the pioneers of a marketing strategy. marketing which was aimed at a public in love with interior design and the aesthetics of magazines such as Wallpaper*, Elle Decor either Architectural Digest. In this way, they achieved the perfect cross between an interior design magazine and the real estate business. The worldwide recognition was immediate and its explosion in the digital world as well, getting more than a million and a half visits on average per month on its website and more than 2,000 properties sold in these years. Magazine kinfolk included the four creators, in 2017, in its list of the 40 most important entrepreneurs in the world.
Villas by Jane Austen and the Spanish touch
Its formula soon spread to other countries, led by The Modern House. This real estate of the United Kingdom is one of the main international references today. It has almost 700,000 followers on Instagram, which has catapulted many of its properties to the lists of the most beautiful and viral houses on the internet and has led them to publish, to their own merits, several books on decoration and architecture. Of course, his catalog is only suitable for millionaire pockets, since the average value of a property listed in the agency is 1.1 million pounds.
Although he was born in 2005, it was not until 2015 that he made the leap. Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill, its promoters, came from the world of decoration and architecture publications. Its concept is similar to that of the Swedes, with the editorial line predominating over the sales line, and a magazine aesthetic, establishing its own style to this day. They are credited with rewriting the rules of real estate with a philosophy that draws on the power of design, light and space, to help people live more thoughtfully and beautifully. In addition, as part of their business ideology, they have the B Corp certification for sustainability and social and environmental impact.
The Modern House has specialized in the sale and promotion of modernist and 20th century architecture in the United Kingdom, listing icons of minimalism and brutalism or apartments even in the very Barbican complex in London. In fact, his own name is inspired by the modernist movement, specifically, in the book by the rationalist architect Francis Yorke, The Modern House (1934), who introduced this type of architecture to the general English public.
In 2021 they launched Inigo, its little sister, dedicated exclusively to historic homes that are part of British heritage, with an archive of spectacular estates in rural areas and country houses from the Victorian and Georgian era, typical of Jane Austen’s literature and that They create addiction among the public. The key to her fame is telling the history of the place in depth and with her editorial touch, creating a very tangible imagery that brings the reader closer to that feeling of escapism and fantasy of living in a home like that.
In Spain, the proper name is given by the Catalan The Home Hunter, which was born in 2013 by Tessa Muga and Román Macià. They define themselves as a real estate oasis and an agency adapted to the new times and the language of social networks and the Internet. Although they list their apartments on the web, their main communication channel is Instagram, where they have the largest community within the Spanish real estate sector. Every day they publish in the stories of their profile the properties available for rent and sale in the cities of Barcelona and Madrid ―where they operate―, and that they manage through appointments by their WhatsApp number. Apartments that are often rented or sold in less than 48 hours. The company was developed with the idea of changing the real estate world at a national level in a positive way, with a work policy away from the competition and aggressiveness that are so present in this sector. And in 10 years they have transformed the way they see the product and the customer, with a young and close team that moves away from jacket and tie suits.
That is why their number one priority is to create a home, houses in which they themselves would live. A letter of introduction that made them the pioneers in Spain of the so-called home staging, the decoration of the space to market it and show the possibilities to future clients, managing to sell apartments in record time that had barely received visitors for years. “When we started, there weren’t yet good camera phones and not much intention in the ads. The sector was badly damaged after the crisis,” says Macía, from The Home Hunter. “Now we work on the image, communication and, most importantly: dealing with customers. It is important to accompany him and empathize with him ”.
The team is clear that decorating a flat well helps people to locate themselves. “90% of people do not know how to visualize a space and 70% of the purchase is emotional. It is difficult to see a location and make a decision in a short time, so the home staging it helps us to see the capacities”, says Muga. Regarding the phenomenon of compulsively looking at houses in the different reference portals, they are clear that it is due to a desire to move to a better place, but also to curiosity: “Gossip for gossip’s sake, knowing who lives there or how people live people is something that attracts us, ”says Tessa.
The phenomenon of stylish real estate has revolutionized a growing market with a demanding public in recent years. After the pandemic, this public has realized that it needs a change, feeling that it can aspire to something better in the future, giving free rein to that fantasy that the protagonist of Fiddler on the Roof: “If I were rich”.