Published on September 26, 2022
The softening of the residential real estate market has left some master-planned developers asking how they can best position their communities to stand out. As we enter the world of “selling” homes again, the role of lifestyle and, effectively marketing your lifestyle to prospects, has become increasingly more important.
Here are some back-to-basic ideas to help communities shine in this softening market:
It is vital to understand the psychology behind the homebuyer including the thoughts, feelings, and trends that they align with and how that relates to their home choice. Post-pandemic life has proven time and time again that homebuyers– and humans in general – are seeking authentic connections now more than ever. The most basic and arguably most essential part of our lives is connection – in relationships, in nature, etc.
The focus on wellbeing is a trend that has drastically increased following the pandemic. Social interaction and fun, physical fitness, nature, a healthy diet, and continuing education are all important aspects of well-being. Homebuyers value spending time outdoors more than ever, and thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces are now the most sought-after amenity.
In accordance with this trend, developers should pay close attention to the design and use of their outdoor spaces. Consider open-air gathering spaces for kids’ activities, fitness classes, or as a meetup space for resident mix and mingles, happy hours with live music, and more. Consider activating existing green spaces your community already has but may not be using. Open space can be used in a multitude of ways such as recreational cornhole, pop-up croquet, or lawn chess. Even seemingly simplistic programs such as walking groups, mommy and me play dates, or evening meditations can make a huge impact in your community – not to mention, impress homebuyers.
It’s a simple truth – lifestyle sells homes. Individuals and families tend to choose their community first, and their home second. A sense of community and authentic connections are extremely important to today’s homebuyers. Re-evaluating your lifestyle program will help ensure it is in line with what your buyer wants. If there are residents already living in the community, send them a thoughtfully worded survey. What are their interests? What do they like? Use the survey results as a tool to evaluate your current lifestyle plan. If there are no residents yet, or only a few, take a deeper look at your demographic data, the surrounding area, and your amenities to determine what additional lifestyle offerings could be incorporated. Once you have set your goals and established your plan, provide your lifestyle team the training and resources they need to effectively implement the program. It’s all in the details!
Don’t underestimate the power of identifying and understanding your target audience across all aspects of your community planning. Your sales and marketing team should consistently brief your lifestyle team on what the buyer is looking for. Take time to evaluate the buyers’ behaviors and needs. Is your marketing and lifestyle messaging consistent? Are both teams selling the same brand? The lifestyle team can sell what’s happening in the community with images and videos.
There is extreme value in fostering connections between your residents from day one. The warm and fuzzy feelings your homebuyers experience during the sales process should continue from the day they receive their keys, and far beyond. The underlying and most basic human necessity across all demographics lies in connection – the feeling of belonging. When people feel like they belong to something greater than themselves, they are more apt to spread the word of their positive experiences to others – including potential homebuyers. Your residents are one of the best (and least costly) marketing tools that you could ever have.
Connection, communication, and authentic lifestyle plans are key to influencing a homebuyer’s decision to make a community their home. Start with the basics and watch your community thrive.
Monaca Onstad, President/CEO of Onplace – an amenity and lifestyle consulting firm – is a nationally recognized lifestyle leader with a passion for building community in the residential and commercial real estate markets. With more than 20 years of experience, she helped move Lakewood Ranch from the 4th best-selling multi-gen community in the U.S. to #1. Monaca was recognized as the best lifestyle director in the U.S. in 2018 by the National Association of Home Builders Sales and Marketing Council and ranked among the top 4 lifestyle directors in the country in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
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