real estate

I had a fantastic and far ranging conversation with a fellow design professional this afternoon, sparked by the demolition of six historic homes on 31st Street just a couple days ago. One of the things we talked about was a disconnect between preservation professionals and developers who want to work in urban neighborhoods (specifically older established neighborhoods).

Sometimes despite a general desire to "do the right thing," they end up on the wrong side of the argument. Having worked on all phases of the development process (from land assembly, planning, and zoning to design, financing, and construction), I can identify with the need to be selective about sharing information publicly until the project is ready. Most developers working in older urban areas, however, tend to take this too far - holding their cards too close to their vest will breed distrust and antipathy from concerned neighbors and organizations. It sets up a needless climate of conflict.

Here is a brief overview of how to include preservation in the development planning process: Engage, Evaluate, Execute.

Historic Preservation Planning for Developers - Engage, Evaluate, ExecuteHistoric Preservation Planning for Developers - Engage, Evaluate, Execute

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My Wednesday afternoon session at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference today focused on selling homes in weak real estate market. Middle-market and distressed neighborhoods in particular face substantial difficulties in such an environment.

The general consensus among the panelists, aside from traditional "marketing plan" strategies, was to sell the neighborhood and the vision, not the individual house. That is, convince people about the benefits of living and investing in the specific neighborhood/project as a tool for selling the actual home.

Here are some take-away quotes:

  • There are two ways to sell a neighborhood to the "creative class": make it cool or pay them (subsidy). These two strategies don't always work together - that is, "cool" people may not respond to or qualify for specific available subsidies.
  • A strong neighborhood or "city" marketing campaign must have sustained deployment - the time horizon is years, not months.
  • Meet 1 on 1 with real estate professionals - they are the ones who you depend on to sell the neighborhood or development to prospective buyers.
  • 36 percent of buyers start the process by looking online. Have an effective online presence.
  • Understand your target market and make sure your product meets their needs. If the product doesn't meet the target buyer's needs, no amount of marketing will help.
  • Marketing strategies: Internet, paid advertisement, earned media, events, printed materials, partnerships, promotions.

Baltimore has created a multi-tiered marketing campaign with a collaboration between a non-profit citywide marketing organization, developers, real estate professionals, and community-based organizations. The sole goal of this extraordinarily successful organization is to grow the City's population by promoting Baltimore as a great place to live.

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