Property Grunt

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Not another broker open house

Yesterday the Grunt dragged himself to the upper east side for a preview of a new set of condos. Honestly, the only reason why I went was for the free food but I was also curious to see how these new condos were.

Upon entering the building I was greeted by a line of brokers who were signing waivers. Since construction had not yet been completely there was risk of injury for anyone entering the premises. It is standard operational procedure for developers who are still in the hardhat phase to have anyone visiting to sign a waiver so they won’t be sued. This particular developer was quite thorough because not only did brokers sign the waiver but were required to provide business cards, which were stapled to the waivers.

I was getting annoyed by the line of people in the lobby. Usually these things are done a lot quicker but it seems that the developer did not have the foresight to have more than one sign in station. At one point the admins addressed the growing crowd by handing out more waivers and pens. I was happy about that since the broker in front of me coughed in the hand he was holding the pen. I quickly bypassed him as soon as I saw a free pen and blank form

The primary objective of a broker open house is to attract as many brokers as possible and have them bring their customers to the development. In order to make it worth their while, developers lure brokers with free food and prizes. Usually the food is catered by a well known gourmet establishment like Mangia. If you ever have the chance to eat for free from Mangia, I highly recommend the make your own salad and dessert menu. They also have an open bar, or hor doeuvres. It is the developer’s objective to create a sense of well being with all of the brokers so that they remember the developer and spread the word. It is all about association. Good times mean good apartments.

But the devil is in the details and they were quite noticeable. First of all the food was catered by Whole Foods which were sliced wraps that were stacked like poker chips and little pastries. I have nothing against Whole Foods. In fact I think Whole Foods is awesome but this was the first broker open house I have been to that was catered by Whole Foods. I was expecting something that wasmore distinct. Even the broker open houses I have been to downtown didn’t use Whole Foods.

What really surprised me was that Moby’s Teany was providing liquid refreshment. As far as I was concerned this was a complete misfire. Teany is a lower east side brand so obviously no one on the upper east side knows what the hell it is or even cares. When you say Moby to these people they'll think of the white whale. Two carafes of coffee would have been more practical and cost effective. And as far as I am concerned

Usually if these events take place later in the day they provide some type of alcohol refreshments like an open bar. At upscale events it is usually wine. But none was served. Alcohol is a must at these events especially now. Brokers, especially now, need to get tanked. It also gives a better impression of the apartment if the broker is wasted. I suspect the reason why the developer do not have alcohol was because they did not want to increase chances of injuries occurring from inebriated brokers tripping or getting into fights.

There was also a contest for a pair of roundtrip tickets to London which you entered by throwing your card in. Personally what would have been more effective was take a page out of Glen Garry Glen Ross by making a trip to London one of the incentives for brokers to sell these condos not for showing up at the open house.

My overall impression of the condos were, eh. I think it is because the space looked smaller than it was because of the massive amount of brokers and the apartment itself was still in an unfinished state. Now I have been to many broker open houses where the property in question was still in an unfinished state, a ton of brokers showed up and the place sold like hot cakes but we are in a different market now. Developers need to put their best foot forward because buyers are now more discerning.

That means don’t be cheap on the eats and be a bud and breakout the suds. However the jar of jam that was given as we were leaving was a nice touch.

How well these condos will sell is questionable. If they opened up 6 months ago, I am sure they would have sold out by now but the market has changed and I am sure the developer and his investors nervously waiting. I overheard someone on the developer staff that the building will be completed in 30 days. A lot can happen during that time.