The challenges of marketing infill residential developments

Following on from last week’s post I want to turn my attention to house and land packages.

Unimproved land sales, where the buyer contracts a fully independent builder, are now less common and while some buyers may not relish the additional work involved, some do and they tend to be more attracted to infill locations.

Accordingly the marketing of an estate is enhanced by a good relationship with builders who can then provide house and land packages when the developer does not.

Almost regardless of the size of an estate, the ability to offer packages is usually seen as a core requirement by most buyers.

The only exception would be for very small infill estates in popular and well established, almost built out areas where the market demand for land is strong and such estates will almost always be high-end and high-cost locations. In a market like Sydney this does happen.

However, I have noted that a price ceiling for land in such locations can be somewhat constrained by comparisons to already established individual homes.

But, if the location is AAA then the land can reach higher price levels.

When estates are of a critical size, the builders involved should, where possible, also be a part of any display village and while they need not be large they are an important marketing element.

The displays not only showcase the builder’s product range but they create immediate activity on the estate. Raw muddy land for many consumers lack appeal. This sort of on-site activity is another key for all estates and even more so for smaller infill estates.

Why?

I feel the main reason is that infill estates may have been in a dormant state for many years and buyers may not feel any urgency to commit.

The availability of house and land packages and the construction of a display village are core project marketing tools.

They are part of the estate’s full service offer to potential buyers. Without them most if not all estates may well struggle to attract buyers in particular during construction works and prior to land registration, again vacant land with no activity is difficult to market in all but exceptional circumstances where supply is very limited or non-existant.

 


This is an important area because land sales offer some of the most complex of marketing challenges and this is largely the result of the fact that land itself is not the end product in the housing cycle, or from the buyer’s perspective.

Consumers buy land with the primary intention of building a house.

Few blocks are purchased to hold and most estates have time limits in place that require a home to be built, usually within no more than two years.

Most government grants also have time limits. There will be some time gap between the land purchase and being able to move into a new home, this is something that buyers understand, but most want the time gap to be as short as possible.

This is another reason why house and land packages are so important for almost any estate.

Most buyers moving to a major new area will ask themselves a number of simple questions: Do I need to do this? What are the advantages? What other choices do I have?

Clear and simple answers to these questions can be a sobering experience for any marketing or sales professional to answer.

Marketing plans need to acknowledge that this is the reality of how their target market views their buying options and the sales path needs to be built around this reality.

New estates can be a much more sensitive and less flexible market than dealing with well established areas.

While established areas, might also have a downside because of a particular reputation, there is clearly much less trust involved as buyers can see right now exactly what they are buying into.

They can go out and experience an area for themselves and this is another clear advantage for infill locations, as much of the local community is already established.

 


There is now a reasonable expectation among consumers of what a master planned community will offer.

In the widest meaning most buyers would consider this type of estate to offer more than just a collection of new homes.

There is an expectation that such communities will offer more and in some cases much more.

The markets expectations will be established and nurtured by the marketing and with large estates the brand will become a central element that will need to be sustained and managed over the entire life of the estate.

Master planned estates will also take many years to complete and may involve a partnership that includes several different developers as well as government.

Among the marketing challenges will be communicating the size of such projects and the time scales involved.

From a sales perspective time will be central issue and this will impact almost every aspect of marketing. If planned facilities are delayed buyers will be disappointed.

Large master planned projects take many years to complete and the process involves ongoing exposure to the wider community.

There will always be a long period before any work takes place on-site and a long lead-time before any product is available for sale and is ready to occupy, but the up-side can be very impressive.

Almost all metro areas have varied sites that over time become ideal for development as infill residential estates. These estates can range in size from a hand-full of blocks to as many as several hundred or a thousand blocks.

Infill sites are by their nature more likely than greenfield sites to be well located in relation to existing services and as such can be expected to attract a premium price, often out pacing the already established market.

The premium is created because buyers are willing to pay to be located in an area that would previously been considered fully developed. These estates usually attract a pocket of modern new homes, which in turn acts to reinforce the estates appeal.

The other major advantage is that infill sites are almost always well located to already established services – walking distance to schools and shops is an obvious plus.

This adds considerable weight to their appeal and hands the developer and marketing team (and buyers also) an instant advantage.

However regardless of the quality of existing services and good transport links there is still no guarantee of instant success. 

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

 


Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

Community Discussion

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?