Properties look to differentiate with luxury amenities, tie-ins

Marketers trying to bring the luxe life to consumers are looking to the rapidly expanding real-estate market, with luxury apartments and "condotel" buildings popping up in cities around the nation.

Marketers trying to bring the luxe life to consumers are looking to the rapidly expanding real-estate market, with luxury apartments and "condotel" buildings popping up in cities around the nation.

In the news

Properties, such as the W Dallas Victory and New York's Plaza Hotel, are morphing into "condotels," which combine hotel amenities with home ownership. These brands attract buyers who are looking for luxury and leisure in one place.

As BusinessWeek reports, real-estate campaigns are expanding from the traditional floor plans, models, and newspaper ads to include outdoor banners, full-page glossy ads, features in lifestyle publications, Web sites, and multimedia presentations.

In the past, real-estate marketing language consisted of simple terms like "two beds, two baths." But now, marketers are trying to appeal to buyers by announcing partnerships with upscale designer-branded household items and furniture, as well as fancy condo names, such as The Platinum (in Miami and New York) and the Diamond House (in Manhattan).

Why does it matter?

A building can be branded and sold like any other luxury product. "Real estate is a category for PR because these properties do need to distinguish themselves from one another," says Susan Magrino, CEO of the Susan Magrino Agency. "And they are looking for very interesting, creative partnership ideas that would bring in programs unique to their buyers, primarily on a luxury level - whether it [is] a private wine cellar, certain luxury brands, or brand-name private chefs."

The opportunity for PR lies in promoting these properties through platforms like events. "Events are important with PR because it is essentially bringing the property to life - and most of the time, the property hasn't been built yet," adds Magrino. "You need to garner the excitement for potential buyers."

Five facts:

1 Four- and five-star "condotels" began to sprout up in the Miami area about seven years ago and have since popped up across the country.

2 Condotels are a relatively new investment category and account for less than 10% of all vacation homes and investment properties in the US, according to the National Association of Realtors.

3 According to the National Association of Home Builders, the number of new condominium and other for-sale units rose from 20% to 50% of the multi-family building market in 2006.

4 In 2005, the median price for one of Manhattan's new batch of condos was $770,000; that figure, according to Brown Harris Stevens, has climbed to $970,250.

5 In May, after a yearlong debate, New York City finally approved Donald Trump's plan to build Trump SoHo (pictured), his ninth branded condotel in the US.

Irene Chang

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