Plan 4 Development
Property development guide

 Property Development

Developing a property or a site for Planning Gain is one of the quickest ways for instant added value and profits. But it is not easy. You often have to risk your own capital, employ expensive professionals and risk being refused planning permission with all the abortive costs.


10 Essential Property Development marketing Ideas.
Your marketing strategy will obviously differ dependent upon the size of the property, location, market conditions and demand at the time, but for the moment I have given you 10 top property development marketing ideas to be getting on with:-

1 Try out your prospect's shoes for size

It may sound obvious but it's incredible just how many developers forget to understand their prospects effectively. Spend an hour defining your market profile and answer the following:

· How old are they likely to be (ask local council for local demographics)?

· How much can they typically afford (ask a local agent)?

· Where do they socialise, go at weekends (e.g. local golf centres, gyms, swimming pools etc)?

· What will their priorities comprise when buying a new property (e.g. kids, single, entertaining)? Does the site have enough scope for a future house extension for when the owner requires additional floor space?

These are just a few questions to contemplate which will help you firmly structure your marketing activity and get your marketing mix right first time.

2 Give the development a brand for your audience to aspire to!

It's not just a development... it's something your prospects will call their home and that they have no doubt been aspiring to live in. A property is the most expensive thing we buy in our lifetime (well most of us anyway) and therefore you need to help people visualise their ideal lifestyle. A good brand can do this very well even if it's a single house!

Look at your development's particular design features, location and pool of prospects/market and create a brand that people can relate to and imagine being their home/investment.

Always remember that first impressions count in a major way here and if it looks like you have made a decent investment in the design and marketing stages then it will reflect well in the development.

3 Make the most of new creative technologies and make your property come to life

Watercolours are a thing of the past and on average twice as expensive as new technologies like CGI. The majority of today's house buyers expect to see precise, lifelike computer generated images which make the development appear already built.

Technology has moved on so far that lifelike quality of CGI is commonplace now. Embrace it and expect to see immediate returns.

4 Give your development an online platform

If you're marketing your development yourself then you not only need to attract punters but you also need to sell to them without a word being spoken! A simple, well built and optimised website will be your best line of attack. Obviously it depends very much on the size and positioning of the development itself BUT the website should be straight forward and cost effective. Treat it as a brochure online that will reduce printing costs and of course visitor waiting times - instant information!

It should:

· Allow people to download brochures (saving you a bomb on direct mail and print)

· Create an urgency by adding high impact visuals ('only 2 remaining')

· Collect names of prospects wanting more information. You can email the database as and when you have something to tell them (show home open etc)

· Contain lots of keywords/phrases that a search engine will pick up on

· Tell visitors all the benefits of the area (e.g. transport links, local schools etc)

5 Don't forget your PR hat!

PR is a fantastic friend when it comes to promoting new developments; it's free, local papers love it and it gets seen by thousands of warm prospects. When you have a website to point interested parties to it's time to organise your PR strategy. Concentrate on local publications and start by listing them out, then finding out who the Property Editors are. Pick up the phone, make contact with these editors and tell them about the development - they'll be thankful of the information trust me! Next thing to do is email them a press release about the development and a high resolution image (ideally CGI). When writing the release, focus on all that is different about the development (e.g. free heat pumps, free gardening for 12 months etc) and send it directly to the editor via email and follow it up within 2 days.

So the process...

1. Write a press release on the development and prepare images

2. Find out your local property editors (magazines and newspapers)

3. Call the editors and have a brief chat, then email them the press release and images

4. Call them 2 days later and see if they want anything else and whether they are going to feature it. There is an element of sales from your perspective but don't sell too hard as it'll turn them off!

5. Keep the editor informed as to further news on the development.

Finally, remember that the editor doesn't care about your business as such, but they love a good story!

6 Go Carbon Neutral

"As a developer what are you putting back into the environment?" This is a question many of our developer clients are now being asked on a regular basis. Corporate Social Responsibility is now not just a buzz word for FTSE companies, it's filtered right down to one-man-bands.

Savvy consumers understand it and are starting to expect it. By spending £1500+ / year and joining the Carbon Neutral Trust you'll be making a step in the right direction from the consumer's perspective, differentiating yourself from your competitors as well as getting more sleep at night knowing you are doing your bit for the environment!

Search for more information on becoming Carbon Neutral on Google.

7 Embrace 'green' technologies

There's no doubt that as consumers we are finally coming round to the notion of 'going-green' and about time too! If you want to make your lives 100 x easier when it comes to marketing your development, all you need to do is add a 'green angle' and you'll sell it far faster than you would without one.

For example; there's no denying that energy bills are rising sharply and 'consumer cash flow' is being stretched far more than it ever has been before. Therefore if you can offer a solution and take this niggling concern off their mind by adding one of the many green energy generating technologies available today... you'll have them lining up for your property! In fact, you can quite easily add a further £10k + profit to a property that never has to pay for electricity again!

I'm talking ground source heat pumps, solar panels etc. They may cost you a further £5k to implement BUT you'll be selling far quicker and for more money!

Don't forget to promote this heavily in your marketing though. It's key.

8 Understand that today 'women' wear the trousers!

It's true, women are commanding far more influence when it comes to buying properties and general household expense... and this is continuing to rise sharply. Before you undertake your architectural drawings, let alone your marketing strategy, be sure that you repeat this back to yourself at least ten times!

How are you going to appeal to the most powerful force in the household? Decoration, walk in wardrobes, property curvature, feminine brand etc.

Lose the masculinity when it comes to middle class developments but retain it when it comes to supersize mansions as they are all about ego and appealing to the male species!

9 Speculate to accumulate

Larger developers have woken up to the notion that if you give a little something back then they get more interest and far quicker! Obviously for any developer 'cash is definitely king' and selling properties as fast as you can is your core focus. Therefore why don't you look to make the decision making process far simpler for the prospect by creating a feeling of 'getting something back from their purchase rather than just an empty house. Again, this idea sets you as a differentiator in the market and from your perspective and will see your name bought up at dinner parties as 'the developer who isn't greedy for a change'! Remember that the key here is to think of something that has an ongoing value for a relatively short period.

I'm talking about paying the first year's mortgage payments, perhaps a year's free garden maintenance or cleaning, free interior designer support, or even all service bills paid-for for 12 months... get creative with your ideas but take a close look at current consumer issues and address them for your advantage. Obviously factor in the costs to your prices - what's a further £2k on to the property's value?

10 It doesn't stop at the development sale...

Your final purchasers probably know 50 people (at least), therefore it pays to look after them as they continue as your silent sales force in future. Think 'after sales service' and be sure to keep in touch with them directly, even if it's a ½ yearly printed newsletter about your new developments and your new found commitment to the environment!

Here are just a few fantastic and cost effective ideas that mean a lot to your purchasers:

· Personally send a welcome to your new home card accompanied by some flowers the day they move in - £50 (Interflora)

· Pick up the phone a week after the moving in date and make sure all has gone to plan and everyone happy - 20p (BT)

· Provide an emergency telephone number for any maintenance and guarantee that any issues will be dealt with within 24 hours of a call. Tie in with a property maintenance company

· Negotiate some fantastic discounts that you can pass onto your customers for local services (e.g. garden maintenance, storage, cleaning and even car valeting!)

· Buy some tickets to the local county fair or festival and pass them on! It won't be forgotten in a hurry!

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