How do you sell a home that has been a cornerstone for your family life for 35 years?
My family moved to Woodside Cottage in 1985, right before I took my A level exams. Later, it was where we partied when my sister got married and where all the grandchildren played havoc in the woods. We said goodbye to my father at Woodside Cottage in 2011, and my mother continued to live there very happily for the last 9 years of her life until this bastard virus took her from us last summer. At her funeral, the village green was full of locals paying their (socially distanced) respects.
Because of all this, I care who lives at Woodside Cottage next. When we began the process of selling my mother’s cottage earlier this month, I wanted everyone to see how wonderful her house is and I wanted the new owners to love it for the next 35 years. However, January isn’t the best time to take property photos showing blue skies, lush green grass or bright interiors. Our great estate agents, Canterbury-based Miles & Barr, helped me to achieve my vision and their photographer took photos of Woodside Cottage on two separate days. But turning winter into summer is impossible…or is it?
I took the mid-winter property photos and uploaded them to Autoenhance.ai photo editing service which is 22 year-old Jamie McInally’s latest startup. Jamie was at school with my boys (the cheeky ones in the photo taken on my sister’s wedding day). While they were taking GCSE exams, Jamie was trading computer hardware, and while they swotted (and drank?) their way through university, Jamie launched his third (or was it fourth?) startup in Singapore. At some point during Jamie’s travels across Southeast Asia and Australia, I began mentoring him and we developed a business plan for a specialist Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance property photos for the UK property marketing industry.
Back to my mother’s house…the sky was grey, the rooms were dark, the photographer had done her best and I was in a hurry to list Woodside Cottage on Rightmove. I uploaded 19 JPEG images to the Autoenhance.ai web app, which took a couple of minutes due to my terrible broadband, but thereafter the AI enhancement process took seconds. Out of 19 images, I sent 16 enhanced images to Miles & Barr for the listing. This shows an 84% success rate for the photo editing AI.
Within days of putting Woodside Cottage on the market, we received three offers matching our asking price. What to do next — should we ask for bids to squeeze every last £1 out of the sale? Actually, we decided it was already a fair price and we would sell to the lovely couple who wanted it most; their tears of joy on hearing that news made it feel like the right decision.