Long Division, Short Division, Subdivision

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Do the math, and a subdivision would seem to be the best way to make the most money with the least amount of work for a real estate agent. You have 10, 12 or 20+ brand new listings, and each of them will make you money once they’re sold. On top of that, they’re all in one place, so you don’t have to run all over town to show them.
As a bonus, they’re typically aimed at the same market segment so you don’t have the headache and costs of marketing your two-apartment in the west end one way, your fixer-upper in the east end another way and that waterfront house yet another way to a different market segment. Sounds great, doesn’t it? There is just one problem; most agents think a subdivision is a subdivision. It isn’t, and that’s the first thing you have to realize when you get one.
A subdivision is an area of land that has been divided into smaller areas on which houses are built. Unfortunately for a lot of agents, that definition is as far as they go when it comes to understanding what they have and how to market it. We need look no further than the candy-coated world of wedding rings and true love to draw a parallel that will help us see the difference between what agents think a subdivision is and what it really is.
Imagine you’re ready to tie the knot, so the two of you are shopping for wedding rings. You’ve narrowed your choices down to two styles that are similar in price, and both are in the same jewelry store. Ring A has a poster above it that says, “This ring is made from the finest metal ingredients that have been scientifically bonded under the correct temperature to ensure molecular strength no matter what household chore you do while wearing it.” Ring B has a poster above it that says, “Because your love deserves it.”
Guess which ring you’re going to buy! Ring A is being sold as a mere physical object, while ring B is being sold as a reflection of the love that brought you to that store. A is an object; B is a lifestyle statement of an ideal. It’s not much of a shift to move this example over into the world of subdivisions where the same marketing philosophy should apply.
A regular stand-alone listing is usually sold on the physical merits of the house, age, improvements, number of bedrooms and so on. Only a small portion of the marketing addresses the neighborhood unless there’s something obvious, like it’s close to schools or malls. Most people can drive down the street and determine if they like that neighborhood or not.
Your subdivision can be sold as brick and mortar as well, buildings in which you can sleep and eat that will keep you dry and warm while you do so. You can sell the neighborhood in the same way as with a stand-alone listing. That would be fine if a subdivision was a subdivision; but as I said before, it isn’t.
I know what you’re thinking: “Well Debbie, if a subdivision isn’t a subdivision, what is it?”
First let’s be clear on what a subdivision is not; it is not a house, it is not a collection of houses and it is not just a neighborhood. A subdivision is a community that you help give birth to. Sound a little heavy? Don’t worry; I’ll help ease the labor pains and give you some tips and techniques on how to market any subdivision that’ll add up to money in the bank.
You see, with subdivisions you have an active role in the shaping of a series of empty lots into a cohesive whole that is a neighborhood. Breaking with tradition can be a great way of standing out in a sea of subdivisions all vying for the buyer’s dollar.
Recently I picked up a subdivision that had not been selling well. It had gone through other real estate companies without generating the level of sales required to make it a happening spot, and the owners were concerned. They asked me if I would take a look for them; so I checked the place out. It was beautiful, a treed area with one side skirting a small pond just minutes from the city in a high-traffic area. Given the location and privacy afforded, I was surprised it wasn’t selling, so I agreed to take it over and started to look at why sales weren’t happening.
The first thing I changed was the sign on the highway advertising the place. It was a typical real estate sign with a map of the lots available (you know, that green and brown thing that looks about as inviting as a crushed caterpillar). Most of the sign was taken up by two or three smiling heads along the bottom with contact info. It looked like an advertisement for a subdivision, not for a community, so I changed it.
My sign has a full-length, welcoming picture of me with the pond behind me on the left side. It can be changed out to match the seasons. So it’s a picture of me in my subdivision advertising my subdivision. A sign that never ever grows stale. That gave it a more human element immediately. The other two-thirds of the sign has lots of white space, my contact information and open house info under the name of the subdivision with a tagline: “You’re home. Naturally.”
With the cosmetic side of things worked up, I turned my attention to making that subdivision a community in other ways. I knew that, before the roads had been put in, before the lots were cleared, before a blade of grass or tree limb had been touched, that place had a history — and I needed to uncover it. For every subdivision you handle, get the back story. What was it before? What are the memories people have of it?
To bring it to life I will be using social media and traditional door-to-door campaigning to launch a story contest. Those who lived near those woods and that pond could email me a brief memory of the place to qualify. The response so far is amazing. People are telling me about summers spent swimming and winters skating on the pond; and all those memories are good. We are tweeting excerpts out and adding them to our marketing material so that anyone who comes to check the place out leaves with a sense that it was more than empty lots and roads. It is becoming a place with a life of its own, a community they can be a part of — if they choose to make their home there.
I knew instantly that the pond was the unique selling point. By selling it as a place where children swam and skated as opposed to “lake-side lots available,” I gave prospective buyers a glimpse of the community they would join. They could easily picture themselves and their children enjoying a day of swimming or skating in the beautiful outdoors minutes from their home.
When you get a subdivision, don’t try to just sell someone a lot; sell them a lot of memories waiting to be made in their new neighborhood. Make it more than just a place where they can live; make it a place where they can build a life. That’s a community.

By: Debbie Hanlon, www.remonline.com

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