Web Reviews: A Blueprint for Building Knowledge

Architectural tour: Developing your knowledge of architectural styles builds customer confidence and adds depth to your presentations during showings.

September 1, 2002

You don’t have to go back to school for a Master of Architecture degree to sell real estate. However, familiarity with residential styles helps you to craft persuasive presentations, whether you’re writing ads or pointing out a home’s features during a showing. Several Web sites offer resources that will help you identify common residential styles, as well as learn about their history.

Boston College art history professor Jeffery Howe originally created the Digital Archive of American Architecture as an online supplement to his course “From Saltbox to Skyscraper: Architecture in America.” The site collects thousands of photographs that Howe has taken over the past twenty years, showing the evolution of American architectural styles from the 17th century to the present. (A sister site, Digital Archive of European Architecture, provides a similar overview of European architecture.)

Visitors can browse the site according to chronology, building type, or architectural styles. Real estate professionals looking to develop their knowledge of residential styles can turn to the “Styles” section (accessible through the Table of Contents) which offers examples of influential architectural styles, including Georgian, Federalist, and Neoclassical. While less extensive, the “Houses” section also offers additional pictures of residential architecture styles. The site also includes a section dedicated to well known architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright. Forty pictures of Wright’s residential and commercial architecture are accessible at the site. To access this section, click “Table of Contents”, “Architects”, then “Frank Lloyd Wright.” While the site offers many pictures, it is limited on descriptions and details. It includes brief notes on each style’s distinctive features, however, the site is most useful as a visual reference.

Readers can turn to ArchitectureWeek Online’s Classic Home Collection for more in-depth explanations of architectural styles, written from an expert point of view. It examines the design features and construction materials for 35 homes typifying styles such as Colonial houses and Craftsman bungalows. Although ArchitectureWeek is targeted toward architecture and construction professionals, the Classic Home Collection’s illustrated summaries are still understandable to laypeople and can help real estate professionals develop an eye for architectural detail. For instance, a Dutch Colonial house’s description explains how features including a low built construction, a lawn on both sides, and a skillfully crafted red cement shingle roof prevent the this house from having a pinched look, despite occupying a small lot. The Classic Home Collection also offers several interesting free extras. Users can download free floor plans and interactive 3D models for each home. In order to view the model, users must also download DesignWorkshop Lite; a free version is available on the site.

Still hungry for more information on residential architecture? RealtorMag Online’s Architecture section provides a thorough survey of common American residential styles, with reader-friendly, illustrated definitions for dozens of residential housing styles. The descriptions explain each style’s distinguishing features, origins, and regional boundaries. The section also contains entries for exterior features such as arches, windows, and dormers. Created for real estate professionals, the section offers users a chance to brush up on common home styles.

A knowledge of residential architecture isn’t necessary to sell homes, but is certainly useful while talking about properties with clients. There’s more to selling real estate than rattling off how many bedrooms and bathrooms a home contains. Possessing a knowledge of residential architecture can make you a more well-rounded salesperson and separate you from the pack. These sites can assist you in creating a sure blueprint for success: possessing a thorough knowledge of your product allows you to make confident, informed presentations that will impress clients and colleagues alike.

Chris Leporini is a former REALTOR® Magazine assistant editor.

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