"The marketing collateral may well have to address each of the apartments as 'one-offs' to ensure that the sales path is supported with relevant information."
Timing is critical when marketing smaller residential developments
The time required to sell out a project is always critical. But along the way there will also be other milestones, which will include when and how a project is released to market.
For a major apartment development an important part of the marketing process, and possibly the central issue, is when and what apartment types are released for sale. In a project with say 250 apartments there will also be a wide diversity of apartments for sale with varied sizes, prices and configurations, and these will al influence the release program.
With small projects there is not this same diversity. While no two apartments are ever exactly the same, the marketing of a smaller project still needs to take into account how and when apartments are released for sale.
The marketing collateral may well have to address each of the apartments as “one-offs” to ensure that the sales path is supported with relevant information. When, for example, brochures are prepared, this is an opportunity to refine the creative content and show how different services and finishes are presented relevant to the scale of the project.
An essential goal is to ensure that one type of apartment is not sold out too soon or with a small project that one or two apartments are somehow seen as less than desirable because they take longer to sell. Apartment values and demand need to be managed across the project no matter how big or small. Demand, alongside detailed buyer feedback and sales rates, needs to be constantly monitored, discussed and where necessary the sales path adjusted.
In some examples this process can be very intense, for example during the first stage release of a new building, and in small buildings where release options might be limited, even more so.
In any project release there will be some highly desirable apartments that will always sell. This demand is hardly ever uniform and will vary with each project. A registrations-of-interest campaign might well indicate some valuable trends. This demand needs to be leveraged to the benefit of the entire project and in a small project capitalised upon during the early stages of marketing off the plan, ahead of construction. Because we are dealing with a small project there may well be an advantage and with changes that are easy to make across all apartments.
From the earliest stages of the marketing it is very desirable to maintain a detailed understanding of how different apartments are selling. Popular stock can if necessary be used to help encourage future sales. This is not suggested in an open-ended way, because in a small project sales volume will naturally be limited, but with planning the most popular apartments can play a critical part of the sales path and help to grow prices and encourage ongoing demand across the whole project.
One option would be to increase prices and hold some of the most popular apartments back to help make other stock more attractive to some buyers with more limited budgets. If the best (most popular) apartments in any project are sold and taken off the market during the early stages of the marketing, this can limit the ongoing appeal and flexibility of the project.
However time on the market must be carefully managed, as buyers will soon become sensitive to any apartments that are taking longer to sell than others, and when this happens to a number of apartments in a small building the entire sales path should be rigorously examined.
A final overview
My aim with these posts has been to talk about how a well-managed marketing campaign for a small project will help to unlock and sustain value. The market’s potential, timing and an insightful view of the target demographic are key factors.
But there is also a clear need to fully embrace and set priorities for the marketing and the sales path, because the highly efficient marketing tools that are now available will make a difference.
Budgets do not need to be excessive and it is important not to simply imitate what larger projects with their greater flexibility and resources might do. This is an area where experience and professional planning will help kick-start and then manage the best possible sales path. Which importantly gives all buyers what they need, and that is frequently highly focused support and information about the project. Above all small projects demand individual and well-managed marketing that can now leverage the best of online and traditional marketing.Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.