Marketing New Construction: In-House, Outsource or Both?

by Chicago Agent

No matter whether the company is a brokerage or developer, marketing isn’t the same as it was a few years ago. Developers and agents alike have to be innovative in how they reach out to buyers, hence the different ways that companies sell property.

By Elizabeth SanFilippo

Homebuilder William Ryan Homes keeps all marketing in-house, because the company feels it understands the market best. Debbie Beaver, vice president of William Ryan Homes, constantly studies the market and tracks where buyers are coming from in her target-specific marketing. While Beaver believes this helps keep her costs down because she doesn’t outsource an agency to do the legwork, other companies would beg to differ.

According to Peter Olesker, executive vice president of developer services at @properties, “outsourcing is more cost-effective, because in-house has to spend more heavily to drive traffic.” Plus, as agents, they are able to, as Olesker says, “drive qualified traffic through the brokerage,” due to their wide network of prospects, including non-traditional players like private equity.

The differences in marketing venues don’t end there. William Ryan has salespeople who rarely have backgrounds in real estate and who Beaver trains. “We have better control over not only over the salespeople, but the procedures, the scripts,” Beaver says. On the other hand, @properties assigns agents to a particular property based on their background and experience, like new construction for instance; those agents can utilize @properties’ marketing department to help with advertising, if that’s what a developer needs help with, as well.

William Ryan once considered using outsourced marketing, but in the end, they decided against it. “I didn’t feel like I’d have control over customer service,” Beaver explained, adding that using agents can bring up a conflict of interest; if a Realtor can’t sell the property, what’s to say they won’t sell another property they also represent?

Olesker thinks that’s a non-issue, at least for @properties. When @properties works on a project, Olesker says, “they make sure the agents have integrity and will exhaust every option to sell that specific project.” When they’re on-site, they represent only that site.

Yet the question isn’t just to outsource or keep it in-house – Garrison Partners has developed a unique concept that combines the two options: marketing properties in-between. They hire what they call “on-site advocates,” whose home base is the property they are working to sell.

Like William Ryan and @properties, all projects start with a lot of market and community research to ensure the agents and salespeople really understand what needs to be done. But then Garrison Partners differs in that its “advocates” work only on that one development, so as Christine Lutz, vice president of Garrison Partners, says, “we’re not in competition in general brokerage.”

This means they can not take any of the buyer traffic they receive to another home or property. This approach is successful for them, Lutz says, because “this dedication to a property gives us a very deep product knowledge and a deeper connection to the community.” In other words, the advocates’ attention isn’t split among various locations.

William Ryan Homes, @properties and Garrison Partners may all have different approaches to the way they market and sell properties, but each company has the same goal.

“In the end, we’re all trying to do the same thing,” Beaver says. “We want to put [people into their dream homes. There’s just different ways to do that.”

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