Warehouse drive-thrus. Virtual video launches. Zoom open houses.
Gone are the days (at least for now) of the broker happy hour or sales launch event, forcing residential and commercial developers to come up with creative ways to pique agents’ interest.
Codina Partners and USAA Real Estate, along with their leasing team at Fairchild Partners, organized an event in mid-June: a caravan tour of a new industrial development in Hialeah called Beacon Logistics Park. About 50 brokers attended the tour — without leaving their cars.
Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, CEO of Codina Partners, said the idea stemmed from parents driving their kids to birthday caravans during the lockdown. “If the kids can do it, why can’t we do that?” Codina Barlick said. “[Brokers] are actually interacting more with the product this way because an event turns into happy hour.”
Developers who have typically lured real estate agents into their sales galleries and projects with open bars, charcuterie boards and presentations are now shifting gears in the face of a pandemic that discourages large gatherings of people, handshakes and the standard Miami kiss on the cheek.
At Beacon Logistics Park, brokers were greeted in their cars by a welcoming committee that handed out a branded bag with a large hand sanitizer and disposable masks. Later, they were given croissants from Bachour Bakery – a Codina Partners tenant at Downtown Doral. Inside the warehouse, stops were guided by signage and posters. The developers ended the tour by giving out gift certificates.
The event gave Codina Partners and USAA the chance to showcase the finished development to prospective brokers. Future tenants include Cargill, which signed a lease for 70,000 square feet at the project earlier this year, before coronavirus hit. Compared to other asset classes, “industrial really lends itself to a drive-thru,” Codina Barlick said.
Unlike industrial, residential developers can’t invite brokers to drive through their sales galleries.
One project, Monaco Yacht Club & Residences in Miami Beach, launched a “global virtual sales gallery” last week by sending out an e-blast video on Friday to Worldwide PR Affiliates, a partnership of public relations firms around the world that shared the video with their clients.
Matt Barry, managing director of Optimum Asset Management USA, which is developing the luxury condo project, said the “virtual launch” allowed the developer to begin marketing the units again after a quiet period in March and April. The video was translated and sent out in different languages.
Prior to the pandemic, Optimum planned to host events in the Hamptons this summer and summer retreats in Europe to appeal to buyers. The sales center in Miami Beach is open by appointments only, and the developer plans to come up with more virtual events this summer, including virtual tours.
Similarly, CC Homes — a partnership between Armando Codina and Jim Carr — went from hosting events in Washington, D.C., New York and Connecticut to promote a single-family home community in Doral, to presenting online open houses.
Now, the Canarias at Downtown Doral sales team is hosting Zoom open houses to groups of brokers, according to Diana Ibarria, senior vice president of CC Homes.
“Our sales surprisingly have increased during the pandemic,” Ibarria said, pointing to less new inventory of single-family homes, due in part to owners’ hesitation to list their houses for sale.
More than 300 homes remain for sale out of 520 at Canarias, Ibarria said. Prices range from $590,000 to over $1.5 million.
Louise Sunshine, a strategic adviser for Fort Partners, who is working on Four Seasons-branded developments in Surfside and in Fort Lauderdale, said her advice to developers is “to just stop and rethink what they’re doing.”
Sunshine, a sales, marketing and development expert, began co-hosting a webinar series with Haute Living on art and design, bringing on Fredrik Eklund to a webinar in order to expand the project’s reach to the broker community.
“Fredrik commands a lot of attention and we have given him the exclusives for the penthouse,” she said. “In new development, you usually don’t give an exclusive to anybody. He’s able to draw a lot of attention to the building through his social media efforts.”
One aspect of new development is that agents are selling a project that hasn’t been completed yet, Sunshine said. Construction on the Four Seasons development in Fort Lauderdale is reaching the ninth floor. “In new development, really, what do they see? Everything they’re going to see when they get to a sales office,” she said.
Fort Partners has hit pause on all in-person events, only allowing appointment-only visits to the sales center.
Though it’s too early to know if the new tactics will result in closed deals, Sunshine is optimistic.
“The world has changed. Marketing and sales have gone digital,” Sunshine said. “We are finding that one out of four buyers will buy virtually.”