Kirsty McLuckie: A property going viral for all the wrong reasons is not always a bad thing

As a nation, we collectively love browsing properties online, but among the chocolate box cottages, multi-million pound estates and jaw-dropping penthouses, there are a significant number of very unloved homes that get a great deal of attention.

Whether it is homes with truly filthy interiors, hilariously eccentric decor, or utterly bemusing layouts, they are pored over, judged, and shared online throughout the nation.

This week I spotted one for sale with an abandoned car hidden by weeds in the garden, and absolutely no access to remove it – or to explain how it got there in the first place.

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Many of us like to look to these ugly duckling homes and marvel at the awfulness on display. Perhaps it may make us appreciate our own places all the more.

Image: Andrey Popov/Adobe StockImage: Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock
Image: Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock

But while Chris Kelman of Auction House Scotland agrees that these “clickbait” properties are endlessly fascinating to the scrolling public, he says that going viral for all the wrong reasons is not always a bad thing.

Among the mid-priced houses, flats and commercial properties that his company sells each auction day are a handful of unprepossessing properties that garner a surprising amount of interest.

He says: “When we put them online, people will pick up on them straight away on social media.

People will tag their friends as a joke and so a lot of people end up seeing them just out of curiosity. But amongst those will be folk who have a look and think: ‘That is a really good project’.”

Chris likens it to going to a jumble sale and finding something valuable that a buyer with imagination can clean up and put back together.

The auctions cover a huge range of offerings. Some are solid properties which are in move-in condition, but priced for a quick sale.

Commercial buildings such as pubs and nightclubs due to be auctioned can also attract attention on social media, from those that have memories of a good night out.

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But in terms of publicising a home for sale, it seems that the grottier the property, the wider the interest. These can often be abused ex-rentals or repossessions, part of a probate or long-term empty buildings with all the problems that come with them.

The guide price can attract interest too, with some starting at around the £10,000 mark.

But many just need a good clean - if there are no structural problems, it might just be a case of donning rubber gloves, holding your nose, filling bin bags, and tidying up a garden. Chris says: “We’ve had groups of people buying an unloved property to do this. They get their friends round for a few weekends, and the difference a good, deep clean and a lick of paint can make is worth it.”

Of course, others may require structural work but Chis maintains: “Those with an eye for it – often people who are experienced in renovation – will be able to spot the gems, whether it is to buy for themselves, as part of a letting portfolio, or to renovate and sell on.”

And some of the worst offenders even go on to star on the small screen. Chris explains: “Auction House Scotland has a relationship with shows such as Homes Under the Hammer. Researchers get in touch because they are looking for a really good before-and-after story, so if you look at a property that looks completely unpromising, it will make for a much better makeover.”

Which is good news for viewing figures – as well as practical buyers looking for a cut-price home.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman

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