Across the globe, cities are growing at the expense of suburbs, suburbs are densifying rather than expanding, and rural areas are emptying out. This trend is not likely to change anytime soon, and is leading to both denser and taller real estate in our metropolitan areas. For a lot of developers, this societal trend has forced them into development projects where they are not as familiar with the subtelites of planning, building, marketing, and selling this type of product.
Here are our 3 imperative ways to stay current and adjust your planning, sales, and marketing strategy for denser urban projects.
1) Think Lifestyle Selling
How is your new project going to differentiate from the other nearby projects that offer the same amenities, location, and pricing? The answer is lifestyle selling. This involves transforming your project from not just another commodity townhome or condo, into a once in a lifetime living opportunity where living aspirations reach the pinnacle of real estate perfection! Okay, that might be a touch of an exaggeration, but in all seriousness this should be the market messaging goal and it needs to be implemented and communicated from project conception all the way through to your final sale. Most importantly, this concept needs to be consistent across all of your marketing touch points once you begin interacting with buyers. Think of it as your project mission statement. You need to penetrate potential buyers’ psyches so that they respond to this lifestyle concept and gradually make their purchase decision based on their emotions. If you don’t execute this properly, your project will still sell, but I guarantee it will sell slower and at a lower average price since you are now selling a commodity. Why do we pay extra for Nike or Evian Bottled Water? Because we think we will feel better when we use these products. The same goes for real estate. People should be instantly thinking when first exposed to your real estate project, “Wow, this is really the type of lifestyle I want”. Not, “it’s ok and within my budget”. See the difference? Who do you think will pay more and close faster? How you do this depends on a number of factors, but without it you’ll simply be another commodity in the urban jungle.
2) Neighborhood Integration
Every neighbourhood has a story. Tell it.
This is in line with the idea of lifestyle selling but is more specific to the surrounding geography. As people move into denser housing, they will generally have less space and will be relying on nearby parks, playgrounds, and coffee shops for their leisure and relaxation. Neighbourhoods have always been a factor in buyer’s purchase decisions, but it is now more important than ever as people’s living accommodations get denser. It doesn’t matter if your project is not in the hippest area; I guarantee there’s a portion of the market that is considering living there. In such as case, it’s your job to make lemonade out of lemons and explain why there is not a better place to live. For example, rather than simply listing the schools and daycares nearby (assuming this is relevant to your target buyer group) create attractive interactive maps on your website showing the positives of the facilities relative to your project (distance, quality, class size, anything positive) and share it across your marketing channels. I bet with some keyword optimization and SEO work, this page could also be a top ranking result on Google within a few months. (For more on this see article Neighborhood Keyword Optimization) Remember who tends to look for school information, people who are moving to a neighborhood. Be sure you are on these potential buyers’ radar and that you are telling your neighborhood story in the best possible way.
3) Target Buyer Profiling
Most developers should have an idea of who their end buyers will be. Generally speaking, the three biggest buyer groups purchasing this new urban real estate fall into one of these three categories:
First Time Buyers – The average age of first time home buyers range from 30-35 years old in most developed countries and will likely continue to rise as property prices appreciate. These buyers are doing 99% of their research online and are very concerned about how both the project and neighbourhood accommodates to their lifestyle. Factors important to these buyers include uniqueness, amenities, finishing’s, and neighbourhood dynamics. If this group is a focus, be sure your advertising appears in the relative mediums and communicates the right message.
Downsizers – These buyers could be empty nesters or someone simply looking for less space due to a lifestyle change. They’ve chosen denser housing for very different reasons and of most importance is their ability to form a new emotional attachment with a multi-tenant project as opposed to their previous single family home. Important factors here include maintenance free living, value, neighbourhood dynamics and creating a sense of home. Your brand messaging to this group should also be comparatively unique in your efforts to create an emotional connection.
Investors - This group is the least emotional of the three major groups but they still are looking at buying the project that will perform best and give them the best return. All the factors listed above are still valid, but the messaging with the group should be once in a lifetime opportunity (if appropriate) or tremendous value. This can be communicated in different ways, but the marketing channels and messaging you choose should be very different from the previous two target groups.
At Blueprint Effects, we’re aware that there are many builders who retain a build’em, churn’em, sell’em culture and strategy that has worked for many years. They think, “Why now do I need to be concerned with marketing technology and strategy”, and “Since when do my buyer’s emotions come into play?” If you had asked those same questions to the local book store before Amazon, or a courier before FedEx, or local coffee shop before Starbucks, they probably would have given a similar response.