A 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."
Some garden apartment rentals in New Jersey and a condo complex in Orange County, NewYork, have their own blogs.
In Stamford, Conneticut, the developer of a super-high-end condo tower is eschewing use of free classified-ad listings on craigslist.com to lure buyers, since "every mom-and-pop building these days is doing it."
But the company is putting big money into a virtual tour for its project Web site.
"A lot of people do all their home shopping online, start to finish," said Kelly Marzullo of Core Marketing Group, which is using the Web to promote various Manhattan buildings and the Peninsula at City Place in Edgewater, New Jersey. "A US$15,000 ad in the Sunday paper just won't get you anywhere anymore. People like to know everything about a building before they come in -- or at least have a taste and a feel."
Her Manhattan-based company does advertise properties on craigslist, building in links to Web pages that may include photographs, digital drawings, video, floor plans and the range of asking prices.
In New Jersey, Marzullo said, she sees digital marketing appealing mainly to the young and Web-smart people who might pull up to a building on a motorcycle with a Blackberry in their pocket.
But Jason and Bobby Schlesinger, principals of Ceebraid-Signal, which is putting up the Highgrove condo in Stamford where the starting price is US$1.4 million, beg to differ.
"One might make the mistake that the empty-nester clientele is not Internet-savvy, but we find more and more of our mature buyers come in with highly specific questions, having already done their research online," Jason Schlesinger said.
The Schlesingers said they were shelling out well over US$100,000 on a two-and-a-half minute video to be posted on the Highgrove Web site.
They are keeping their budget for print ads, they said, because the primary ways people first hear about a project continue to be traditional -- signs, newspapers and home magazines.
So are other developers in the tristate area; these include Savanna Partners, which is building 125 North 10th Street, a complex in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, being promoted on MySpace, and 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, research company Borrell Associates said.
Bobby Schlesinger 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 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, both developers and shoppers said.
Heath Waldorf was dead set on not paying a broker's fee to find a two-bedroom place for himself and his fiancee, Nicole Lelchuk, in Hoboken. So he spent more than a month last summer visiting buildings that had signs and checking out ads in the paper, before hitting on the idea of craigslist, where he had shopped for Yankees tickets and once sold a piece of furniture.
Instantly, Waldorf spied an ad for a rental at the Upper Grand development -- which, as it turned out, had been posted only 10 minutes before. It was for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a new elevator building with a gym, offering hardwood floors, walk-in closets, stainless steel appliances -- and a balcony, something Waldorf had his heart set on.
Waldorf got up and rushed over.
"Because of the slow market they were offering 13 months for the price of 12, and waiving the US$350 amenities fee," he said.
A handful of large developers, WCI and Lennar among them, are even starting to offer Web-trolling buyers instantaneous "live chat" with sales agents -- 24 hours a day.
WCI, which has developments of all sizes, types and price ranges around the Northeastern US and Florida, strives to make a captivating "first impression" with its interactive site, said Gabe Pasquale, its chief marketing officer.
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 or be hooked up with a sales agent.
"We're selling a lifestyle with each project and people want specifics before they invest any significant amount of time," Pasquale said.
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