New construction marketing: Tips and techniques from the experts

by Timothy Inklebarger

It’s a tricky business getting real estate brokers, developers and marketers to reveal their secrets when it comes to sales, and in the Miami market the competition is growing increasingly fierce. The city is experiencing a growing boom, and the game has changed since the economic recession. Real estate developers have found it harder to attract potential buyers, prompting amenities wars and motivating ever-creative ways to get their units sold.

Two of the most exciting projects set to open in Miami next year — One Thousand Museum and Brickell Flatiron — offer phenomenal views of downtown Miami and lavish amenities that give buildings of similar size in New York and Los Angeles a run for their money. With the location’s appeal to international buyers and the reputation of its developers, the two projects are upping the ante for future developments in Miami.

One Thousand Museum

One Thousand Museum

Louis Birdman, principal of Birdman Real Estate Development is an industry veteran who has spent decades helping to create large-scale residential projects. He’s currently working on the luxury condominium tower One Thousand Museum in downtown Miami, minutes from South Beach and the Brickell financial district. Designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, One Thousand Museum is a 62-story luxury high-rise, featuring 83 half-floor and full-floor residences. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, and closings are expected to begin in early 2019. “We’ve sold a lot of the units, but we still have some available,” Birdman says.

Birdman says his marketing team — ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and elsewhere — works as an affiliate with the project, bringing in buyers from around the world.

“Sotheby’s has hundreds and hundreds of agents all over the globe, so they are marketing to their own agents in Miami and outside,” he says.

Harvey Daniels, vice president of development sales for Sotheby’s, says 15 of 83 units are still available and going fast. He said he has worked with buyers and brokers all over the world who are interested in One Thousand Museum. The top buyers internationally are from Brazil, Mexico and Europe, in that order, he says. That’s prompted Sotheby’s to open a sales center in Sao Paulo.

“Brazil has been a very big market for us,” he says, noting that marketing in Mexico City has also brought in a lot of clients. He says buyers do contact Sotheby’s directly, but the majority of the clientele is brought in from brokers. Sotheby’s has held events in New York, Boston, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Mexico City, South America and throughout Europe, among others, Daniels says. One Thousand Museum has attracted luxury buyers locally, too, Daniels says.

But what’s new in marketing over the last three decades Birdman’s been in the game? Well, just about everything, he says.

“What’s changed over the years is most of our marketing efforts for development-oriented sales are geared toward the agents; it’s not geared toward the users,” he says. “We do a lot of marketing to agents (in the Miami area) and to agents in other markets that are feeders for projects like this in the Miami market.” Those markets are primarily in South and Central America, Europe, Asia and various parts of the United States, among others, Birdman says, noting that 90 percent of the time buyers are coming from brokers. “We market to agents that are selling a particular type of project we are selling,” he says.

Technology has played a role in the changing landscape for marketing large-scale residential projects, according to Birdman. “What’s changed it, to be honest, is the advent of the internet,” he says. “Years ago when we marketed developments, we placed ads in newspapers and magazines and billboards.” He says that today, agents are using those online tools to reach a broader audience. “They don’t run ads in newspapers anymore — no one would see them.” Sotheby’s provides a lot of digital-ready marketing materials, Birdman says. “A lot of agents set up their own websites and domains to market luxury condos, single-family homes or whatever is their area of expertise,” according to Birdman.

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When it comes to amenities, One Thousand Museum is in a league of its own. Residents will have access to a wide variety of public spaces in the building. Among the bells and whistles: a high-end fitness center; spa; custom juice bar; lobbies on the ground and top floors of the building; private theater; dining area; lounge area; and two pools. The sky lounge on the roof provides breathtaking views of downtown Miami, but perhaps the most unique amenity for residents is the private helipad that allows entry to the structure via helicopter. “They could shuttle themselves via charter from the local airport to the building or have quick access to the Florida Keys, the Bahamas or Palm Beach — it’s a pretty unique amenity,” Birdman says, adding that it’s the first private residence in Miami to have a private helipad. “There are not a lot of residential buildings around the world that have a private helipad.”

Daniels says the residential helipad is the first in Miami and attracting buyers. “It’s such an important component to buyers because for years and years a lot of developers have tried to get this,” he says. “It’s made a difference because the buzz gets out, and no one else has it.”

Brickell Flatiron

Branded as a “true architectural icon,” Brickell Flatiron is the newest creation from developer Ugo Colombo and designer Luis Revuelta. The 65-story glass high-rise — among the tallest in Miami once completed — offers hotel-like service and an abundance of amenities. Adriana Brito, of Fortune International Realty, which is handling marketing and sales for the project, says Colombo’s reputation alone is attracting clients.

“You have brokers who have sold (Ugo Colombo units) to clients in the past and know they are a superior value,” she says. “They understand that the product is good and a new product is on the market, and clients are immediately attracted to it.” When it comes to Colombo buildings, “the same brokers bring back the same clientele and new clientele because they know it’s going to hold its value,” she says.

Brickell Flatiron

Brito says Colombo “builds out of passion, not necessity” and because of that is detail-oriented with the finishes on each unit. That’s everything from premium Italian flooring options to custom designed Snaidero kitchen cabinetry with stainless steel backsplash and Caesarstone countertops. “The quality of what buyers are getting nowadays is a notch above what you’d see in other buildings in the area,” Brito says.

The amenities offered at Brickell also have piqued buyer interest, she says. “I think the amenities that you get in most condo buildings is a pool and a gym,” according to Brito. “In our case, we have a cigar parlor, a wine cellar, a business center and a movie theater.” And that’s just the beginning. Brickell Flatiron features three pools: a kids’ pool, a lap pool and a third pool and spa on the top floor that offers a panoramic view of the city. “Our strongest points are location, the developer, the amenities and the price point for this market; because of that it’s been selling really well,” she says, noting that 80 percent of the units have sold prior to completion of the project.

While Colombo’s reputation is a major marketing point, Brito says Fortune International has worked to move the units by providing marketing materials to brokers and hosting events across the globe. She and others have traveled to New York, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and elsewhere, holding private events for select brokers. “Miami is a great point to all of Latin America and South America; a lot of people speak the language,” she says.

The project tops off at the end of the year and is expected to be completed by next summer, Brito says. “Our building is the last one under construction in Brickell, so when it comes out it’s going to be the newest,” Brito says.

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