Belong

Why Property Managers and Homeowners Should Commission House Portraits

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Belong on Feb 26, 2022

A portrait of a white home with a red door, in winter, with snow-covered trees

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How a few well-placed brushstrokes can add love and revenue.



Though every house is special in some way, they’re all the same in one very critical respect: each is loved by someone. If you own a home that you are renting – or are about to rent – we’re sure you know exactly what we mean. Just because you’re not living it anymore, doesn’t mean that the emotional connection is any less meaningful.


For those reasons, and others, we think there’s no better way to make that connection permanent, than by commissioning a portrait of your home. This isn’t a new idea; in fact, during the Victorian era, portraits of homes were part of the culture. 


They still are. In fact the Internet makes it easier than ever to find an artist to capture the special quality of a home. And there is an active and vibrant subculture of artists who put their hearts and souls into this work. PaintYourLife, for example, lets you choose an artist and the size of the portrait; a charming 8x10 example can cost as little as $200, believe it or not.


Other platforms that caught our eye include GiveaMasterpiece, and the loose, impressionistic vibe of Leisa Collins.


You can also check out this ApartmentTherapy article, which includes the work of Kristen Lowe, whose emotionally-freighted subjects include “Moving Away” and “Childhood Home.”

There’s no question that a beautifully executed home portrait is a wonderful asset that every landlord – or as we call them, “Homeowners” – should have. It “belongs” on the wall of every much-loved house, and could actually help you attract the best possible tenants.


The cynical among you might say: “Really???” And though you could argue, given the housing shortage across America – including California and Florida – there’s no need to invest in a portrait of a home – even an affordable one.


But we beg to differ.

Now we’re not saying that a charming portrait that memorializes a house in a sketch or oil painting is guaranteed to generate more rent. But we are saying this: that when someone walks into a home, and there’s a portrait of the dwelling hanging in the front hall, it establishes a powerful emotional context. (So yes, it could generate more rent. But no guarantees.)


Behavioral psychologists call that phenomenon “priming.” When you expose someone to a stimulus (in this case, the portrait of a home), it triggers deep emotional connections. In other words, someone who sees the photo – say someone on a tour, or someone who has just moved in – becomes “primed” to remember the house they grew up in, or a house that mattered to them. Immediately, those rich associations are transferred onto your house!


Why should a homeowner care about that psychological mumbo-jumbo? There’s a simple answer to that. By triggering those associations, the portrait captures the feeling you get when you cross over the threshold of a home – the feeling of belonging that lends our company its name – which is almost impossible to communicate with a couple of pictures and a floorplan.  


In short, if you commission a portrait — and we urge you to do so — it will set your house apart from all the others in a clinical online listing. It says someone cared enough to commission that artwork. If a house is a brand – and in truth it is – that step could bring you more rental income.  What’s more, that emotional connection will extend to the lived experience. That powerfully evocative portrait in the front hall – or the kitchen, or wherever it is hung – will inspire people to love and respect the home,  and in fact to also be an active participant in its upkeep and well-being. 


One last point about the cascade of benefits that house portrait can trigger. It could actually keep tenants longer – which of course is of enormous value given the high cost of vacancies – because people don’t want to give up something meaningful to them. As one more bit of psychology for you, that is called “loss aversion.”


Once you decide to have the portrait executed, it’s a lot of fun to consider all the options. Imagine the beauty of your backyard during a garden party, the hand-crafted rocking chair adjacent to the fireplace, the perfect spot for an evening with a good book, the way the sun glances through the skylight and warms up the living room. You could try to capture these images in a photograph, but you could never capture the romance, the spirituality of the scene. 

These thoughts on the value of a home portrait come to you from Belong, the property management platform that connects people who love the homes they own, with people ready to move in and love them back. So speaking of portraits we are the picture of a modern property management company! Learn more about us here.