condominium building under construction in Brooklyn has its own MySpace
page. ("Scorpio" structure seeks "great people from the
Metro area, and beyond, that want to live in a thriving community.")
and Bobby Schlesinger, principals of Ceebraid-Signal, which is putting
up the Highgrove condo in Stamford, Conn., where the starting price is
$1.4 million, beg to differ. "One might make the mistake that the
empty-nester clientele is not Internet-savvy," said Jason Schlesinger,
"but we find more and more of our mature buyers come in with highly
specific questions, having already done their research online."
So are other developers in the tristate area; these include Savanna Partners,
which is building 125 N. 10th St., a complex in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,
being promoted on MySpace, and the Robert Martin Co., which is converting
an old pencil factory in Jersey City into the Residences at Dixon Mills.
Nationally, however, real estate companies are spending 26 percent more on online advertising this year, even as total real estate ad spending declined 3 percent, according to Borrell Associates, a research company.
Bobby Schlesinger of Ceebraid-Signal says the main point of creating the online video of the Highgrove is to showcase its exterior design and amenities. The building, set in downtown Stamford, was designed by Yale University's dean of architecture, Robert A.M. Stern, and will offer fitness facilities, a wine cellar and tasting rooms, and an indoor pool with a retractable roof.
Once people sample the wares online, a contract can follow amazingly fast, according to both developers and shoppers.
A handful of large developers, WCI and Lennar among them, are even starting to offer Web-trolling buyers instantaneous "live chats" with sales agents 24 hours a day.
WCI, which has developments of all sizes, types and price ranges around the Northeastern United States and Florida, strives to make a captivating "first impression" with its interactive site, said Gabe Pasquale, its chief marketing officer. The image of a senior company official, Mike Curtin, becomes animated with a single click. Curtin stretches his limbs, thanks the clicker for allowing him to emerge from a frozen pose, and begins talking about the condition of the residential market.
Users who proceed to click on developments in a particular state, or of a specific type, view an online brochure, and then can click to chat, ask questions, or be hooked up with a sales agent.
"We're selling a lifestyle with each project," Pasquale said, "and people want specifics before they invest any significant amount of time."
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