Gone are the days of run-of-the-mill champagne and hors d'oeuvres parties to introduce real estate brokers to new listings.
Today, real estate events—from a boho brunch pool party, with hair-braid girls and inflatable unicorn floats in Hollywood, to an intimate sit-down with a renowned national security expert on Manhattan’s Upper West Side—are more unexpected, curated and brand-conscious than ever before.
That’s because as launch events have become so common, experts say they’re constantly looking for new ways to break through the clutter and reach a property’s target market. Once they’ve piqued the interest of potential buyers through a one-of-a-kind opportunity, the next step is getting them out of the comfort of their current houses and in the door of what might be their new one.
“As great as pictures and videos are, no one buys real estate unless they’ve experienced a property for themselves,” said Mike Leipart, managing partner of new development at Los Angeles-based real estate firm, The Agency.
Once you have the right people at your event, the aim is to leave space for them to connect with the property and have a meaningful experience, said Matt Van Damm, executive vice president at the Manhattan-based Naftali Group, which recently held the Upper West Side event featuring CNN regular Juliette Kayyem in a $10.35 million apartment.
“Great food and great alcohol and celebrities can make for a super fun party, but I think a lot gets lost when you pack the house in terms of what the space is and how it feels,” Mr. Van Damm said. “We try to get really micro to our market, and bring more value to everyone that’s there, so that they come out of our space with a good feeling, and memories that linger.”
While out-of-the-box real estate events are certainly held in other U.S. cities like Miami and San Francisco, experts say that they’re most common in New York and Los Angeles, where it’s more difficult surprise and entice people who have largely built up an immunity to anything that’s expected—even lavish displays of wealth.
That’s why most developers today put aside enough funds in the marketing budget to host multiple curated events intended to introduce a new property to the media, area brokers, surrounding community and targeted potential buyers, said Alexander Ali, the CEO and founder of The Society Group, a Los Angeles-based public relations firm.
When The Camden, a Hollywood rental building with units priced between $2,200 and $10,000 per month, launched last summer, Mr. Ali said he hosted several events meant to attract hip millennials. First, he held a party for 40 press contacts, which started with an immersive theater performance that allowed them to explore the building, and led to a sit-down dinner. Next, he threw a lavish $50,000 grand opening party, with spectacles like a street artist tagging the walls, bartenders running cocktail classes, and up-for-adoption puppies playing in the dog area. And finally, he held the boho brunch for early residents and their friends, which featured an underwater photo booth and vegan gelato treats, for $8,000.
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“For each of these events, the idea was to keep people in the space for as long as possible, and give them something that they couldn’t get anywhere else,” said Mr. Ali, noting that if an event is boring, it could have the unexpected effect of labeling the property as boring, too. “You want to tap into what the audience wants and create an emotional connection.”
Generating buzz and creating that connection was also the aim of a Palm Springs art installation called “Mirage,” which is meant to promote the new Desert Palisades development—a 110 lot project, of which 14 are currently for sale—in the Southern California desert.
Designed by Doug Aitken, this mirrored house was featured in Modernism Week in February and Desert X, which ended in late-April. Developers also had a finished home, designed by renowned area architect, Lance O’Donnell, and listed at $3.295 million, ready to go during these events as well.
Having this exposure at events that naturally drew people who already have an affinity for the desert and architecture was important, as that’s exactly the opportunity that Desert Palisades is selling, Mr. Leipart said.
The insane social media exposure and mentions on art and design blogs around the world is a happy secondary effect, Mr. Leipart said, which he hopes will expose the development to could-be interested international buyers.
“If there’s an obscure blogger in London who’s posting a picture of the house, he’s likely not buying one,” Mr. Leipart said. “But sometimes you have to generate that broad interest to get the narrow attention from the right people.”
When Naftali first started construction at 210 W. 77th St. in Manhattan about 18 months ago, they held an event to generate goodwill, with the community in mind, Mr. Van Damm said, inviting neighborhood families with children to put on hard hats, see the construction site and paint the surrounding fences.
Although it’s quite different in its approach, the Juliette Kayyem event was also laser focused on the local community. “She’s incredibly relevant,” Mr. Van Damm said, noting that she’s a New York-based working parent, who has a lot of the same concerns as others who live in the area.
While he said that the event was well attended, with 35 to 40 people, he doesn’t judge the success by whether it ultimately leads to a sale. “There are so many things that we do in the hopes of reaching our audience,” he said. “This one was good for the project and good for exposure.”
Hosting curated art events is another way to attract the right audience, experts say, if art collectors are among the target demographic.
At 22 Bond in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, “the art connection that we have is real,” said Douglas Elliman’s Darren Sukenik, who is selling the units, which are priced from $8 million to $20 million.
Work commissioned by artist Roy Nachum will appear in the public spaces, individual units’ interior walls will be reinforced so that art collectors can hang their work, and a Federico Uribe sculpture called “SuperFly” will permanently sit atop the building’s exterior.
Mr. Sukenik is also overseeing the upcoming launch event, where he said the guests, encompassing a who’s who of the New York art world, will be over the top, but the event itself won’t be. “If it’s a gimmick, it doesn’t work,” Mr. Sukenik said, adding that pandering, whether that’s to potential luxury buyers or the brokers that will represent them, is always a no-no.
“There has to be substance and style, and there has to be a purpose,” he said. “Anything that’s kitschy or over-the-top or ridiculous won’t work.”
While these out-of-the-box events are an important tool used to sell luxury properties, Mr. Ali did say for the most expensive properties, like the $100 million OPUS property in Beverly Hills—or, really, anything more than $40 million—events aren’t appropriate, because those properties are too precious.
“We walk into a property, and let the space and the budget speak to us, and tell us what we can do,” Mr. Ali said. Sometimes, a room full of puppies, which didn’t cost a thing but got the most buzz for The Camden, is all you need, Mr. Ali said.
Here is a look at other news from around the world compiled by Mansion Global:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tirranna Property In Connecticut Discounted
Ahead of what would have been his 150th birthday on June 8, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Connecticut house, Tirranna, has been price chopped from $8 million down to $7.2 million. The seven-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot property was built in 1955, and sits above a waterfall on a 15-acre property in New Canaan. (The name “Tirranna” is Aboriginal for for “running waters,” according to the listing.) The property also includes amenities such as a greenhouse, barn and stable, heated pool, and tennis court. The home is being sold by the son of the property’s longtime owners, and proceeds from the sale will be donated to charity. (Luxury Listings NYC)
Miami home prices saw a 6% year-over-year increase in March
Amid concerns over a slowdown in the condo market, single-family home prices in Miami have been on the rise for 65 consecutive months, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. There was a 6% yearly price increase in March, according to data from CoreLogic’s latest S&P Case-Shiller Index. The index also showed that home prices in the city increased 0.3% from February to March, and remained steady between January and February. Of the 20 major metropolitan areas tracked in the report, Seattle, Portland, and Dallas had the highest gains (with Seattle prices spiking 12.3% year-over-year), while New York house prices only rose by 4.1%, the weakest growth of any of the cities. Overall, home prices in the U.S. rose 5.8% in March, marking a 33-month high point. (The Real Deal Miami)
Australia’s bustling construction market shows signs of slowing
After a years-long boom, new home construction appears to be on the decline in Australia, with building approvals dropping since August, and a 17.2% decrease in approvals for new projects as of April, according to newly released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Multi-unit approvals were up 9.6% in April after an 18% drop in March, but annually, approvals are still down 26.5%. The trend concerns economists who were counting on the construction industry to offset other negative factors in the Australian economy, such as the recent end of a mining investment boom. (Reuters)
Prices drop amid a glut of supply in London’s high-end riverside neighborhoods
With more than 20,000 new apartments on the rise—many of them owned by buy-to-let investors—rents in London’s Nine Elms district, near the Thames, have dropped 5% year-over-year, with rents per square foot dropping 5.2% in the first quarter of 2017, according to data from LonRes. While new development prices dropped just 2.6% during this period, overall, with a flood of luxury inventory while fewer companies are relocating staff to London, new developments i are being rented for an average of 7% below their asking prices. Numbers from Knight Frank show a 9.3% drop in rents for existing properties in neighborhoods along the Thames. Experts don’t expect the trend to reverse anytime soon, and Marcus Dixon of LonRes said, “There doesn’t seem to be a sense that demand is going to pick up to absorb all of the high levels of stock, so I think we could see further rental falls.” (Financial Times)
Election uncertainty blamed for drop in U.K. housing demand
Demand from buyers across the U.K. took a dip in April, according to numbers from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), as buyers are thought to be waiting on the results of the upcoming General Election. The number of house-hunters per branch dropped from 397 in March and 425 in January and February to just 381 in April, per the NAEA, with the number of sales per branch dropping from 10 in March to 8 in April. Supply dropped as well, from 39 properties per branch in March to 36 in April. “Buyers and sellers alike are recognizing [the election] and are adopting a ‘wait and see’ strategy to decipher how or if the value of their existing or future homes will be affected,” said NAEA chief executive Mark Hayward. (City A.M.)
Hong Kong’s market is still at record highs in spite of new government controls
Residential property prices in Hong Kong rose for the 13th straight month in April, bringing them above their previous peak in 2015, and marking a 19.8% year-over-year increase, according to the Rating & Valuation Department. The monthly home price index rose 2.1% in April, bringing it up to 327.4, compared to 320.6 in March, though some experts still believe recent cooling measures will soon show their effects. On May 19, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued new controls on residential property loans, leading four of the city’s largest banks to increase mortgage rates and cut the ratio of allowable loans in an effort to discourage buyers from snapping up multiple properties. (South China Morning Post)
Rents are cooling down in first-tier Chinese cities
Rent prices in major Chinese cities have dropped in recent months, in what experts see as a sign of increased stability in the nation’s volatile property market, as fewer renters may feel rushed to purchase property if the rental market is relatively affordable. As of January, Shanghai rents ended a 90-month string of price increases, and Centaline’s home rental index tracking residential projects fell 1.09% month-over-month and 4.38% year-over-year in April, bringing the average monthly rent down to 77.7 yuan (or US$11.34) per square foot. A report from Chinese newspaper International Financial News also showed rent reductions in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, a possible domino effect from new controls on the sales market that make property owners less eager to sell or flip their homes. (ECNS)
With home prices soaring, more Canadians plan to renovate and stay put
A new survey indicates that an increasing number of Canadian homeowners plan to undertake renovations this year, with 48% of respondents to a CIBC poll noting plans for home repairs, compared to 37% the year before. However, these homeowners are also planning to spend less on their renovations—on average, C$11,800, compared to C$13,000 the previous year—and in the most expensive housing markets, most renovators are planning to stay in their homes after fixing them up, rather than renovating to boost resale values. Nearly 60% of Greater Toronto Area renovators plan to stay in their homes, compared to 62% in the Greater Vancouver Area. Just 12% of respondents cited property values as the primary reason for renovations. (BNN)
Dubai developers lure buyers with payment-plan purchase options
In a market with sluggish demand, Dubai developers are increasingly offering “buy now, pay later” back-ended payment structures, allowing purchasers to put down a relatively low up-front investment and pay the rest once a project is complete. The trend has been on the rise since 2014. In 2013, more than 80% of new development launches had front-ended payment deals, but by 2016, more than 55% of launches had post-handover payment plans, according to a report from GCP-Reidin, though this payment structure appears to be more prevalent in mid-market properties rather than the luxury sector. T “End-users who buy luxury real estate tend not to get swayed by different incentives,” said Brigitte Tenbergen of LuxHabitat. “They would much rather prefer a discount on the transaction and offer to pay the property in full rather than opt for a payment plan.” (Khaleej Times)
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