If you’ve spent any part of the past two years yearning for the past, here’s why: Research has shown that we tend to rely on feelings of nostalgia in times of trauma, stress, and loneliness — things that the pandemic brought in spades. Nostalgia can be a comfort when nothing else feels comforting.
As such, nostalgia can be a powerful marketing strategy, with companies like Disney and LEGO tapping into the past to better connect with consumers. And they aren’t the only ones. Nostalgia can be an effective tool when it comes to marketing, staging, and selling a home.
Kerry Whippee, founder and creative director of Shamrock Hill Design, explains that she uses nostalgia in tandem with other selling strategies to cultivate a strong and memorable connection between homes and potential buyers. “There’s a reason we use plush white towels in our bathrooms and fluffy duvets in our bedrooms,” she says. “Nostalgia makes us feel safe. It makes us feel comfortable and happy.”
When staging a property for sale, Whippee familiarizes herself with the target market and demographics of the neighborhood. This helps her to design a space that will appeal to the probable buyer on an emotional level.
“It’s important to create a warm, home-like environment. We don’t necessarily set out to evoke feelings of nostalgia, but more often than not, it happens unintentionally,” says Whippee.
Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly what will appeal to individual buyers, but you can’t go wrong by emphasizing spaces associated with food, friends, and fun. “Everyone loves to see a porch swing. Everyone loves to see a large kitchen where they can bake cookies during holidays and host their friends for wine night,” says Whippee. “We’re selling the emotion, we’re selling the feeling. And when that feeling produces a positive memory and nostalgic moment, your buyer will be sold!”
Betti Russo, a broker associate with Keller Williams Prosperity, uses nostalgia to convey a relatable narrative about her clients. “Telling the story of the home adds value. Instead of just a beautiful house, the backstory adds depth,” she says.
To employ this strategy to the fullest, Russo takes some time to get to know the sellers. “In the MLS description and all advertising, I write about how the buyers can enjoy the comforts of the home. Whenever I accompany buyers for showings, I walk them through the house and point out features that the homeowners love and how they’ve enjoyed those features,” she says. “Buying a home is a very personal and emotional experience. Sharing the current homeowners’ positive memories is a great way to create an emotional connection for the buyers and maybe even spark some good memories of their own.”
Nick Kyte, a real estate agent with The Kyte Team, relies on a similar tactic: Using sentimental details from the sellers to set the tone of his listings.
“We capture why the current owners chose to purchase the home originally and incorporate that information into our marketing strategy. This has been highly effective in differentiating our listings over the competition,” he says. “We showcase how the home and community align and why homebuyers would want to reside there by way of storytelling video. Drone footage provides a great perspective, in a short timeframe, about the local amenities, attractions, and overall neighborhood vibe.”
Although nostalgia can be a great way to engage with potential buyers on an emotional level, be wary of over-personalizing and overdoing it with throwback trends.
“I take a lot of the personality out when staging the home,” says Russo. “When buyers see the current homeowners’ personal belongings, they don’t always have the vision to see past that and may feel like they are intruding in someone else’s home. I believe it’s most beneficial to stage the house magazine-ready and share the nostalgia through storytelling.”
Subtle touches can go a long way. You can bake cookies right before a showing or have oldies playing softly as buyers are touring the home. Additionally, many people tend to feel nostalgic when reminded of family, so setting up your dining table as you would for a family dinner is a great way to allude to family without over-personalizing.
This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!