Marketing Insight for Master-Planned Communities

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PALM BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Golden Bear Realty, a global name in destination real estate, recently announced a strategic partnership with Florida-based Cotton & Company. The powerful alliance of these two nationally recognized firms creates an unprecedented sales and marketing solution for resort owners, developers, lenders and country club communities through North American and the Caribbean.

My dad taught me to strive to achieve a standard of excellence and to be the best, that’s a standard that we strive to uphold. With our brand and our company, everything we do we expect to do it to the highest level.

One of the most recognized, revered and respected names in the golf and real estate industries, Golden Bear Realty’s firm has spent years researching the market and honing in on its needs. Mike Nicklaus, owner and broker, leads the Golden Bear Realty contingent, says, “My dad taught me to strive to achieve a standard of excellence and to be the best, that’s a standard that we strive to uphold. With our brand and our company, everything we do we expect to do it to the highest level.” Nicklaus adds, “With Golden Bear Realty, we’ve been involved with communities around the world. We have helped to create communities that have sustained strong sales volume very well and helped support an ongoing marketing program. We’re seeking new developments and markets that will benefit from the quality of the work that we do.”

To further enhance its position in the market, Golden Bear Realty is teaming up with Cotton & Company, a full service, marketing firm exclusively specializing in luxury residential real estate. Cotton & Company’s expertise in lead generation, content marketing and branding will provide Golden Bear Realty’s clients with access to premium services unavailable through traditional real estate firms. “If you look at most real estate companies, they focus on selling homes and general real estate,” says Stephann Cotton, the firm’s President and Founder. “People today are looking for a lifestyle, and that lifestyle may be on the ocean, it may be on a golf course, it may be in a marina on the Intracoastal or may be in a country club. The luxury real estate industry in general has been hibernating for 10 years. Today’s buyers needs are completely different, and we’re focusing on new ways to capture the attention of people looking to make a change in their lifestyle.”

The collaboration will draw on the strengths of each company: Golden Bear Realty’s real Mike-Nicklaus-Golden-Bear-Realtyestate prowess and Cotton & Company’s award-winning marketing campaigns. Together, they will transform Golden Bear Realty’s clients, both new and existing lifestyle communities, into premiere properties boasting the Golden Bear Realty designation.

“Our firm and team represent integrity, excellence, hard work – the Golden Bear Realty brand serves as an endorsement of the community,” says Todd Vance, Golden Bear’s Chief Operating Officer. “Once the homebuyers make the connection with our company and management team, there’s an immediate trust factor.”

Mike Nicklaus began developing a niche in the real estate market in 2003. Today, the company operates in Charleston SC, Stuart, North Palm Beach and Delray Beach, FL. The firm is currently comprised of more than 150 agents and is growing quickly. In the last few years, he has recognized the need to provide clients with something more. Therefore, this powerhouse alliance aims to not only meet the ever-evolving needs of the industry, but to redefine the way real estate and marketing efforts are provided. This alliance will form a one-stop firm with all services under one umbrella.

With the support of Cotton & Company’s marketing innovation, Golden Bear Realty will continue its expansion into destination markets throughout the world. Its clients can turn to Golden Bear Realty for a comprehensive real estate sales and marketing solution and consequently wear the Golden Bear Realty seal as a symbol of success.

About Golden Bear Realty
Golden Bear Realty specializes in luxury lifestyle real estate. Founded and directed by Michael Nicklaus, the son of golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Golden Bear Realty brand strives to be associated with excellence, integrity and the highest measure of quality. In every market represented, Golden Bear Realty supports community enrichment through the support of local charities. Visit www.GoldenBearLifestyles.com to learn more.

About Cotton & Company
Cotton & Company, a luxury real estate marketing firm founded in 1983 is headquartered on Florida’s east coast. Over the past four decades, Cotton & Company has marketed more than 1,700 properties around the globe, empowering real estate sales success world-wide. The firm integrates today’s most innovative digital strategies with award-winning creative, strategic thinking and unmatched industry expertise to drive sales results. For more information on Cotton & Company, visit TheCottonSolution.com.

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Article republished with permission from www.rclco.com.

Our previous article on vacation/second homes focused on the national increase in vacation home purchases and the locations that have experienced this upturn. This article focuses on specific trends RCLCO has witnessed across the country in second home development. Second home development has lagged all other sectors in the recovery from the last downturn. However, a National Association of Realtors (1) survey showed an increase in vacation home sales in 2014 to a level above 2006 pre-recession highs, and we have witnessed areas in the country with positive trends in second home fundamentals.

Buyers

Knowing who is buying second homes is key to understanding what types of homes are selling and where. The last cycle was characterized by buyers who leaned in too aggressively and were over-exuberant about what they could afford based on the progressively steady year-over-year increase in the value of their primary home. Indeed, many used equity from refinancing their primary home to purchase a second home on an all-cash basis. The early signs of this recovery point to a different set of buyers who are too savvy to expect anything less than excellence. They remain cautious after witnessing the drop in home values during the last downturn, and skeptical of planned but yet-to-be-built amenities or infrastructure. We have yet to see, in big numbers anyway, the traditional family second home buyer. Buyers to date generally fall into the following categories, with varying purchase motivations:

  • Wealthy buyers – Housing markets that are driven by high-net-worth purchasers, many of whom have done well in the stock market, and are close to strong source markets with high-end buyers, are performing well. Of the top quartile of households surveyed by the Federal Reserve (2), one-third own real estate other than their primary home. According to the National Association of Realtors (3), 30% of all vacation home sales were all-cash purchases, and of those who financed their home, 48% made a down payment of 30% or more.
  • Income-seeking buyers – Unlike investor buyers, these are second home purchasers who want to use the home themselves, but help pay for the cost with rental income. We have seen this trend all over the country. Offering these buyers the opportunity to put their home in a managed rental pool, locating the product near amenities, and providing concierge-type services for renters are key features to appeal to these buyers.
  • Foreign buyers – Many parts of the country are seeing the vacation home market swell with foreign buyers. These buyers are increasingly interested in personally using their property for part of the year while still being able to earn rental income for the remainder.
  • Pre-retiree/retiree buyers – Many second home communities have already been transitioning from purely second home communities to being both second home destinations and retirement communities. As Baby Boomers begin entering retirement, their second homes have in many cases become their retirement residences, and as a result smart developers have been creating new product targeting retirees in what were traditionally second home destinations. Buyers in these communities are looking for built product with on-the-ground amenities, and are gravitating towards water-oriented and warm geographies. Some are now looking to downsize and simplify life by buying new homes in communities where they previously purchased. In the Southeast U.S., cluster homes-typically smaller and requiring lower maintenance-are finding success as a less expensive alternative within amenity-rich developments in desirable locations.

Working Off Excess Inventory

Many projects that started before the recession and still have excess inventory are finally hitting their stride, but not always with the original developer. They benefit from having infrastructure and amenities in place, and a lower cost basis than if they were being developed from the ground up today. Second home communities stalled during the recession are in the process of restarting their sales. They can offer product at a lower price than would be possible with a new community. Although in the past second home communities typically focused on lot sales, in many of these projects built product is selling faster than lots. Until excess inventory is worked through in these existing second home developments, it’s unlikely we’ll see a lot of brand-new communities competing head-to-head on price.

This is evident in Texas coastal markets, Texas Hill Country, and North Texas lakes. Even though the primary home markets in Texas more than recovered over three years ago, meaningful second home demand has not yet resurfaced, though well-executed projects with amenities and an established sense of place are doing fairly well. This trend is also evident on the Eastern Shore of Delaware. Two projects that are selling well, Bayside and Plantation Lakes, demonstrate this trend. Bayside is a well-executed, golf-oriented project that started pre-recession, while Plantation Lakes offers a distinctly lower price point targeting value buyers.

Pre-recession developments in the Carolinas are being reinvigorated by offering moderately sized, low-maintenance built product that capitalizes on premium views or are oriented around appealing amenities. This is in contrast to the lot sales and large custom homes that Carolinas mountain and lake communities focused on prior to the recession.

In the West, ski projects outside of major destinations such as Vail and Park City have experienced a slower second home recovery. However, some ski resorts are beginning to focus on providing, and marketing, a year-round vacation so that buyers have more of a compelling reason to purchase whole ownership product. Heavenly Ski Resort is one example of a resort widening available experiential amenities outside of the standard ski season.

High-End Fractional Market

Shared ownership has been slower to recover from the recession than the overall second home market, in terms of both volume and price. In 2013, 1,575 fractional and private residence club shares sold in North America, only a quarter of the peak of 6,450 shares sold in 2007 (4). These sales occurred in 80 different projects across North America, translating to an average of approximately 20 sales per project. However, RCLCO has found that high-end fractionals in strong locations are selling well. Examples of this are Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe, California. This type of property is popular among buyers interested in using the fractional not only for vacations but to generate income when not in use, to make the higher price point more palatable. These buyers are particularly attracted to developments where there are specialized services available for renters of the units.

Second Homes in Resort Developments

An extensive package of well-executed resort programs and amenities helps attract second home owners in addition to resort guests. Many well-known resort hotels are either revamping their real estate program or considering offering for-sale residential product. Examples of this are Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia, and The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. By already having a large menu of possible activities and amenities, these projects can appeal to both hotel guests and buyers.

Established resort areas such as these already have the built-in infrastructure, which is increasingly becoming more expensive to develop, to provide families and hotel guests with exciting group activities while also allowing individuals to pursue their own interests. Successful communities are providing the setting for a range of psychographics and preferences—even within the same household. Buyers have been visiting these areas for years, and are comfortable with the locations and sense of security they provide.

Large Single-Family Detached Homes Targeted to Vacationers

The vacation corridor in Orlando is hot, with targeted single-family product aimed at investors catering to visitors who prefer non-hotel lodgings. New, well-amenitized developments that are effectively targeting this segment of the market are selling single-family detached homes with five to 10 or more bedrooms. Typically purchased by foreign investors, these homes have appealed to individuals interested in investing their cash, in a place more secure than where they are from, typically seeking a 4% to 7% return. RCLCO has found a high correlation between price per square foot and proximity to resorts—the closer to the resort amenities, the higher the price per square foot.

(1) “Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey 2015,” National Association of Realtors, April 2015.
(2) “2013 Survey of Consumer Finances,” Federal Reserve, September 2014.
(3) “Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey 2015,” National Association of Realtors, April 2015.
(4) “The Shared-Ownership Resort Real Estate Industry in North America: 2014,” Ragatz Associates, April 2014.

Article and research prepared by Melina Duggal, Senior Principal, and John Cavallo, Associate.

Melina-DuggalMelina has worked on a wide range of market and financial analysis, economic development, regional growth patterns, and consumer research projects concerning real estate and urban development issues throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. She has worked for RCLCO since 1998.

RCLCO provides real estate economics and market analysis, strategic planning, management consulting, litigation support, fiscal and economic impact analysis, investment analysis, portfolio structuring, and monitoring services to real estate investors, developers, home builders, financial institutions, and public agencies. Our real estate consultants help clients make the best decisions about real estate investment, repositioning, planning, and development.

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Greensboro, GA  (August 11, 2015) – Reynolds Plantation Properties is pleased to announce Ron Kalpak as the Salesperson of the Month for July 2015. Leading into mid-August, Kalpak held the top ranking for the company year to date, and he was among the top selling agents for the entire Lake Country Board of Realtors based on year to date dollar volume and number of transactions.Ron-Kalpak-Reynolds-Plantat

“Ron has had a terrific year so far,” says Lee Arberg, senior vice president of Reynolds Plantation Properties. Tours are up and I am eager to see what Ron has in store for the remainder of 2015.

Having moved from Lilburn GA, Ron Kalpak has called Reynolds Plantation home for over 24 years, and has become an active member and resident both inside the gates as well as in the Lake Oconee community. “Originally, the opportunity to work in a place that offered all the activities I love was a no-brainer,” says Kalpak, who is an avid tennis player, golfer and fisherman. “Now, with the expansion of the tennis programming, six golf courses, the addition of Lake Oconee Academy and countless other activities, my family and I could not imagine living in a better place such as Reynolds Plantation.”

Kalpak brings over 23 years of real estate experience to the sales team. Throughout his career at Reynolds Plantation Properties, he has been the recipient of the Lake Country Board of Realtors Million Dollar Club Award for multiple years; the 2014 top transaction producer by an individual sales professional for the company; and one of two members of the 2014 Sales Team of the Year for Reynolds Plantation Properties.

Kalpak and his wife Heidi, who met nearly 10 years after he relocated to Reynolds Plantation, are proud advocates of Lake Oconee Academy where their two daughters, Niah and Love, are currently enrolled. When free time allows, Kalpak loves to swing his racket at every possible chance – he is a proud member and supporter of the Lake Oconee Tennis Association as well an integral part of the fledgling tennis program at Lake Oconee Academy.

About Reynolds Plantation
Reynolds Plantation offers access to over 374 miles of shoreline on Lake Oconee and features 117 holes of championship golf. Located between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, this gated community offers a variety of dining options, swimming pools, walking trails, four full-service marinas and The Ritz-Carlton Lodge. Homesites priced from the $40,000s to over $1 million; Homes, Cottages and Condos from the $200,000s to over $3 million. New premium lakefront Property Release this Spring; two new showcase model homes now open for tours. Read more here.

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St. Marys, Georgia (August 6, 2015) – Osprey Cove Real Estate, LLC is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Lonnie Kinlaw, a nationally-recognized sales leader, to the position of Director of Sales and Marketing.

Osprey Cove Real Estate is the sales and marketing arm of the community, owned by Bald Eagle Partners. Mr. Kinlaw will work with the Osprey Cove sales agents and with President Paul Larner on programs to make the community even more successful.

Lonnie is a licensed Broker in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and brings over 27 years of real estate leadership, sales and marketing experience to Osprey Cove. He has impressive knowledge in the area of home sales, direct mail, training, sales assistance programs, lead management systems, trade show, sales presentations and home/homesite promotion.

Mr. Kinlaw has had successful tenures at a number of high profile developments such as St. James Plantation and Palmetto Creek & Waterford of the Carolinas, all in North Carolina. Lonnie also held positions at Mount Vintage Plantation, Centex Homes, Woodside Development and Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation in South Carolina. Most recently he served as the Director of Sales for The Landings on Skidaway Island.

He has recruited and trained top flight sales representatives, created sales and marketing programs and molded teams into the very best in the Southeast, resulting in an extraordinary number of on-site property tours, sales and millions of dollars in closed sales volume. He is also a member of the National Association of Retirement Communities.

“Bringing in a leader with a track record like Lonnie’s is an exciting next step for our community and Club,” says Paul Larner, President of Osprey Cove. “His expertise, team building and sales training techniques will be a huge asset to our team.”

Osprey Cove is a nationally acclaimed community, with top “Best Value” top rankings by Links and Where to Retire Magazines, on the Georgia coast. The community is currently offering homes and homesites and will have new Models open to tour in the early Fall 2015.

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Step-by-Step Instructions to Turn On Filters in Your Google Analytics
Note: User account must have editing permission.

Bot Filter
1.       Click the Admin tab
2.       Select your web property from the Property column’s drop down menu
3.        In the View column, click View Settings
4.       Scroll down to Bot Filtering and check the box “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders

Internal Traffic Filter
1.       Click the Admin tab
2.       Select your web property from the Property column’s drop down menu
3.       In the View column, click Filters
4.       Click + New Filter
5.       Give your filter a name (e.g. Internal Traffic Filter)
6.       Under Filter Type, select Predefined
7.       Click Select filter type and select “Exclude”
8.       Click Select source and select “traffic from the IP addresses”
9.       Click Select expression and select “that are equal to”
10.     Enter the IP address to exclude

Tip: You can get your own IP address simply by doing a Google search for: What is my IP?

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Tampa, FL (May 13, 2015) — Minto Communities Senior Vice President William Bullock announces that Minto Florida has received five 2015 Eliant Homebuyers’ Choice Premier Awards. Eliant is a customer experience management company that has surveyed buyers of new homes for more than 30 years.

Homebuyers’ Choice awards are presented annually to homebuilders throughout the United States and Canada judged by their homebuyers to have provided the best customer experience. Winning homebuilders were selected based on results from more than 72,000 surveys issued by Eliant in 2014 to all recent homebuyers who purchased from more than 128 major U.S. and Canadian homebuilders.

Minto was one of three winning builders to receive the most Premier Awards, and tied for second place for the most awards received. Minto earned Premier Awards under the high volume builder category for customer purchase experience, design selection experience, construction experience, overall first-year quality and first-year customer service experience. Minto has received consistently high rankings from Eliant Customer Service Surveys since joining the program.

Eliant has long been recognized as the nation’s leading provider of customer experience management services for U.S., Canadian, and Middle East building firms. The firm’s customer experience monitoring, training, and consulting services are considered to be the gold standard in the industry.

Minto Florida’s new home communities include Laureate Park at Lake Nona and Festival in Orlando, Bonita Isles in Bonita Springs, The Isles of Collier Preserve and TwinEagles in Naples, Harbour Isle in Bradenton, Sun City Center in the Tampa Bay area, TownPark and LakePark at Tradition in Port St. Lucie, PortoSol in Royal Palm Beach, Villas By The Sea in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and Artesia in Sunrise.

About Minto Communities
Founded in 1955, Minto is a family-owned business that has grown over the last 60 years into one of North America’s leading builders, with more than 70,000 homes built, including 20,000 in Florida. Minto creates a wide array of award-winning new homes and resort-style master-planned communities to meet every lifestyle. The company has earned national awards and recognition that include consistently high rankings from Eliant Customer Service Surveys, Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) and multiple national awards in community and home design. For information, visit mintofla.com.

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Company unveils new website, expands team to drive online engagement and funds array of digital initiatives for 2015

Travelers Rest, S.C. (April 27, 2015) – Effectively reaching and engaging today’s affluent consumer online takes more resourcefulness than ever, and at The Cliffs, is among the company’s top priorities in 2015. With the launch of the company’s new website, www.CliffsLiving.com, the addition of the company’s first content, social media and digital technology managers, and its largest commitment to date for digital initiatives, The Cliffs is poised to drive business at the speed of a click.

“The real magic of having seven communities is in creating a more fulfilling lifestyle—a lifestyle only available here at The Cliffs.”  Mike Agee, Director of Marketing explained. “Our new website, content strategy, and team members make that possible, and that’s what excites us about technology.   Whatever our current and future members enjoy in life, we want to help them discover and pursue those interests here to the fullest.”

In 2014, The Cliffs embarked upon a technology and marketing initiative that has helped transform and reinforce The Cliffs’ brand of luxury lifestyle. CliffsLiving.com launched in March 2015 and was immediately recognized as “an exception” to most real estate websites that are typically “pretty horrible”, according to unmatchedstyle.com.

“We selected eHouse Studio to build our new website, based on their track record for innovating in the brand-to-design digital experience space,” stated Jamie Adams, The Cliffs’ Chief Information Officer. “The new site design is a showcase of The Cliffs’ lifestyle and provides each visitor with a fun, friendly and informative experience through a wide variety of content that represents The Cliffs’ brand: luxury living, convenience, and long-lasting relationships.”

Adams elaborated: “Our current and prospective members value family, friendships, exceptional hospitality, convenience, health, and active living. When trying to decide where to live, people want to know about the surrounding cities, about others who live in the community, and about social events and activities.  Our prospective real estate buyers want more control. They want to research properties online and opt-in to receive information about us. We implemented a Zillow-like online experience and integrated a customer relationship management process to meet our audience where they are.”

Two key hires allow The Cliffs to execute the digital strategy: the company’s new Content and Social Media Manager Libby McMillan Henson, and its Digital Technology Manager, Jeremy Hensley.

CLIFFS-Libby-McMillan-captionLibby McMillan brings 20 years of journalism experience to her position as The Cliffs’ Content and Social Media Manager. Since 2009, McMillan has focused almost exclusively on digital and social media, most recently having served as an award-winning content and social media manager for USA TODAY 10Best.  Her travel and lifestyle content has been published in print and online across a wide spectrum of media outlets, and she’s also produced an award-winning documentary for public television.  Her scope of responsibility includes the cultivation and curation of content for The Cliffs’ website and blog, as well as management of each of The Cliffs’ social media channels.

CLIFFS-Jeremy-Hensley-captionAs The Cliffs’ digital technology manager, Jeremy Hensley applies more than ten years of web development experience. He’s led projects in web development, video, social media and email. In 2013, his team’s work on two websites earned them five awards from eduStyle including Best Visual Design, Most Innovative and Best Admissions Site. In 2014, he joined The Cliffs and led the implementation of CliffsLiving.com. Hensley’s responsibilities focus primarily around tracking the effectiveness of CliffsLiving.com and digital technology vis a vis the company’s goals.

To help fuel traffic to www.CliffsLiving.com, the company is employing a swath of tactics, from heavy digital presence in its key markets through advertising, pay per click and search engine optimization, to content-laden email communication plans for members and prospective members alike.

In less than 30 days, CliffsLiving.com has driven more than 60 qualified real estate inquiries and more than 70 qualified private event sales inquiries.

“We are off to a solid start,” said Adams, “and we’ve only just begun.”

About The Cliffs
The Cliffs is a collection of seven premier private, luxury residential mountain and lake communities located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the western Carolinas, between two of the nation’s top award-winning cities for quality of life – Greenville, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. The Cliffs’ suite of amenities for members includes seven clubs, six wellness centers, 50 restaurant and private event venues, seven championship golf courses, marinas, beach club, cycling, paddle sports, tennis complexes, equestrian center, hiking trails, wakeboarding, wine clubs, an organic farm and more than 4,000 year-round social activities to create timeless experiences. Homes at The Cliffs range in price from $500,000 to $4 million+; homesites, from $150,000. For more information about The Cliffs, visit CliffsLiving.com or call 866-411-5771.

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Writing for the Web: 3 Tips for Successhelpfultips

Research shows websites are less successful as marketing tools when text from print materials is shifted online. Both media use text and graphics, but people search for answers on the Internet and they search for stories in print.

3 Tips For Strengthening the Writing on Your Community’s Website:

Rewrite. Don’t Recycle Your Print Content

More than a decade ago, Jakob Nielsen discovered through eye-tracking research that 79% of web users do not read text but scan it. Reading on computer monitors is 25% slower than reading print so it is uncomfortable.

Users become frustrated if they can’t find the information they want quickly. With the use of powerful search engines, web users have learned there are many places to find the information they want. Making it easy for users to find what they want on your site may make them your customer instead of another’s in the top search engine returns.

Minimize “Marketese”

Information credibility affects the user’s reading speed and comfort. If you describe your community in grandiose or buzzword language, the user “bumps” as they stop to think about whether you are telling the truth.

For master-planned community sites, selling the ambience of a community with credibility is a challenge because it is a subjective quality. Not subjective are professional photos with tight descriptive captions.

Use The User’s Language

Write in the language of your prospective clients. Unfamiliar terms, abbreviations, made-up words, pretentiousness – all of these annoy the reader. Use every day, conversational language.

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landings-team-main-image-rev3

Fact: Master-planned community marketing programs vanish when developers leave.

This is a huge problem for property owners in private residential club communities because less marketing means lower demand for their homes and club memberships.

To keep both property and club membership values strong in a competitive environment – a community needs effective marketing. That takes time, money and a strategy.

Here’s One Solution
The Landings on Skidaway Island in Savannah, Georgia kept its marketing muscle long after the developer exited. Homeowners don’t pay a penny to keep aggressive and sophisticated marketing programs in place at this amenity-rich, coastal Georgia community.

In fact, The Landings Company completed 250 transactions last year for total sales of $106.5 million. Talk about an effective solution.

Here are six ways The Landings on Skidaway Island makes community marketing work.

#1 Fund Community Marketing
In the late 1990s, the Board of Directors for The Landings Association (HOA) spotted value in the developer’s marketing machine. The HOA took over the sales and marketing function from the developer, along with its institutional knowledge and marketing history.

The HOA formed, and owns, The Landings Company – a self-sustained real estate marketing company with top-notch leadership. Its only goal is to generate revenue for community marketing and sales efforts. Commissions derived from The Landings Company real estate transactions fund what is now a million-dollar annual marketing budget.

When residents list their homes “in house” with The Landings Company, they are funding the community’s future, and there’s a lot of pride associated with that.

#2 Talk with Developer Before Transition
Residents of HOAs should start a conversation about marketing prior to transition, just as The Landings did.

Which advertising drives the most sales? Where are buyers coming from? What are the best feeder markets? What demographic profiles are the best prospects for this community? How are leads best nurtured and converted to sales? Where is the database of prospects that have been generated for this community? Who owns the community logo and URLs? Can you share your line item marketing & sales budgets? These questions, and many more, must be discussed with the developer and his/her marketing team before they leave the community.

Continuity in marketing is as important, if not more, than continuity in other community association management processes, like training HOA Board members, maintaining the facilities/grounds and enforcing protective covenants.

#3 Build Consensus at HOA Level – All Your Residents are In the Real Estate Business
If other HOAs want to mirror the success of The Landings on Skidaway Island, The Landings Company President Raoul Rushin explains they must find consensus among Board members to set aside money for community marketing.

“You need perpetual marketing to sustain your community,” Mr. Rushin explains.

 “Local general brokerage real estate agents usually market houses, not communities. A lifestyle destination needs to be marketed. The housing decision is a close second at places like ours, but it is second.”

Adding marketing to the agenda or challenging an HOA Board to consider what will happen with marketing after a developer leaves is the first step toward building consensus and allocating appropriate resources.

#4 Form a Club Marketing Committee
The Board of Directors of The Landings Club – a third entity, separate from both The Landings Company and The Landings Association – hand-picks 6 to 8 marketing-savvy residents to make recommendations about marketing and branding at the Club.

The appointed Marketing Committee helps to direct membership sales efforts. It also keeps marketing at top-of-mind and “on the agenda” by working closely with The Landings Company management team since membership sales are directly linked to home sales.

#5 Hire a Complete and Effective Team
The fact that The Landings Company has a management team and employees in the first place, demonstrates a real commitment on the part of the community to make sales and marketing a top priority.

As noted, the operation was taken over from the developer nearly 20 years ago and several of the original development staff have enjoyed long-term employment with the company. Here’s how the team is structured:

  • A seasoned President at the helm, responsible for its success
  • An experienced Vice President of Sales and 30 real estate agents who help new buyers through the discovery and contract process
  • Seven full-time administrative staffers that include internal marketing coordinators who update the community website and conduct a host of marketing duties from events to media buying
  • Several weekend staffers are residents who live at The Landings and chip in by manning the reception areas to greet potential new residents
  • An outside marketing firm is retained for web design, branding support and expert counsel

#6 Reach Out-of-Area Buyers
The Landings Association, The Landings Club and The Landings Company all share the same drive to attract new buyers and members in order to avoid a glut of unsold homes, unpaid HOA, club dues, and, ultimately, maintain property values.

A coastal Georgia location near tourist-friendly Savannah is central to its appeal, but Rushin knows The Landings can’t count on tourists to buy enough property to sustain the community. Every community has attrition as residents age or their circumstances change.

Outrunning attrition and competing with increasing area real estate offerings is a challenge, but it’s a challenge better met with a focused effort and substantial budget instead of empty coffers.

With 4,500 acres of land and more than 4,000 homes, the community makes concerted efforts to reach out-of-area prospects who are first introduced to The Landings through national media or online.
With a one to five year decision/purchase cycle, getting in front of real estate prospects early on, when they are beginning their search, is critical to building a pipeline of prospective buyers for the community. With a good lead nurturing program, the community remains top-of-mind until prospects are ready to make commitments.

“We have about 10 percent turnover in our community each year,” Mr. Rushin explains. “So that means we need significant sales activity to keep property turning at an appropriate pace.”

Win-Win Situation
The Landings at Skidaway Island sits in an enviable position. The Landings Club is debt-free and so is The Landings Association. The Landings Company is also debt-free and is self-sustaining.
Mr. Rushin notes that this year’s budget included extensive funding for investments in marketing research, market analysis and re-branding. All to make sure buyers will be landing on Skidaway Island for years to come.

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