We’ve already seen ultra-high end condos being marketed with tours that start with meditation sessions, giveaways for tickets to outer space and the use of art as a subliminal messaging tool. Now condo developers in price tiers just below the very top have started to borrow ideas from the upper echelons to market their buildings. This is especially true in the pockets around the country that have seen a slowdown in activity and have homes staying on the market for longer than they have in years.
Seattle, once going gangbusters in terms of real estate growth, is one of the largest pockets to see this trend take hold. A new luxury building overlooking the iconic Pike Place Market, called The Emerald, has 265 units coming on the market with prices starting at $500,000 up to around $4.5 million for the penthouses. To stay ahead of the market developers have created an “immersive” sales experience which appeals to as many senses as possible for the buyer.
As pictured above, there’s an eight-foot replica of the building integrated with the floor plan selection tool so it lights up and shows buyers where their desired unit is—and the views they will have from each window (the views have air rights protected “forever,” according to a rep for the building). They use photorealistic hi-res imagery and interactive touch screens to create the immersive experience for the eyes. As for the rest of the senses they’ve brought in local vendors to give buyers a sense of what is available in the neighborhood. A nearby locally-owned fragrance company has curated a scent for the sales gallery and is working on developing a custom scent for the building, as well as scent packages for Emerald homeowners. There is a selection of wine from Seattle wineries and samples from a local artisanal chocolate shop are on hand to taste. A beverage program with an on-site barista brews an extensive menu of beverages using coffee from a Seattle-based roastery and a nearby tea shop provides hand-bagged tea for hot drinks and a daily delivery of freshly steeped iced tea. It’s where shopping for a condo meets a wedding tasting session.
According to data from the search site Estately, last month in Seattle only 20% of homes sold over asking price. But look back to the same month last year and 68% of homes sold over asking. The difference is even more striking when looking at the decrease in median sales price—February of 2018 saw homes selling for a median of $715,000, but only $680,000 this past February. Homes are lower in price and they still aren’t getting as many competitive bids as they were a year ago. In this tilt towards a buyers’ market it is going to take more than a slick website to stand out to buyers. The marketing team, Polaris Pacific, built a full-sized model unit measuring 740 square foot with professional lighting inside the sales gallery. The living room is pictured above and here is the bedroom: