Glamour, Glitz, & Condo Sales!

On the front cover of Friday’s Globe Real Estate section was an article on the promotional events that developers will organize to attract potential buyers.

Not surprisingly, the article is written in a positive tone, as if these parties, galas, cooking classes, and wine & cheese shows have ANYTHING to do with the value and feasibility of a condominium development.

Isn’t it time consumers learn to cut through all the BS?

dresses.jpg

“Building Momentum” was the title of the article that first appeared in Friday’s Globe and Mail.

Their tagline read, “It’s bread and circuses at the local condo sales office as developers vie for buyer’s attentions.”

Sidebar – isn’t that a typo?  Shouldn’t it read “attention” with no “s”?

Anyways…

You can read the original article HERE.

I have so many problems with this article and its content that I barely know where to start.

I guess my basic issue is this: Why is the general public constantly lured in by the transparent tactics of condominium developers who will do anything to attract them to their showrooms?

What the hell does a fashion show have to do with condo sales?

Oh don’t get me wrong – I understand marketing.  If I wasn’t in real estate, I might be coming up with new ways (really just new spins on the old ways) to get men to buy beer, deodorant, and fantasy football magazines.

But as a consumer, how can anybody fall for these tactics?

As a consumer, what are you really concerned with when you go “condo shopping?”

I would hope that consumers would be looking at the price of the condo relative to others in the area – both existing condos and new developments.

And I would hope that consumers would have a laundry-list of questions, concerns, and potential red flags sitting firmly in their right palm as they eat cheese-puffs with their left.

The article reads:

By day, their sales centres display floor plans, miniature buildings and model suites for visitors to browse.  But by night, these showrooms are being transformed into circus tents with roaming buskers or galleries of fine art, fashion, and race cars, or private dining rooms catered by celebrity chefs.

Really?

Can’t you think of a better way to spend your night?

“Honey, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?  I was thinking Veritas or Kultura.”

“Yeah, we could do that…..or, we could get dressed up and go to the Axe Lofts sales event to eat fried zucchini served by the guy from YTV…”

I don’t understand.

Since when did a condo sales centre become “The Place To Be?”

Are the people that attend these events actually even interested in buying condos?  Or are they just tier-two of Toronto’s social elite – those who can’t get in to fundraisers for museums and other lame events for people who pose as philanthropists but really just have parents with money who enable them not to work?

Of the attendees that actually are looking to buy a condo, do they ask the pertinent questions?  And if so, are they answered with the information they desire, or just more shrimp-parfait?

Scene One:

Consumer: “Excuse me – can you tell me why two of the developer’s last three projects have been delayed by 18 months or more?”

Salesperson: “Can you tell me if you’ve ever tasted caviar this good!?!  Haaa-zaaah!”

Scene Two:

Consumer: “Hi there, we were just wondering if you have a list of standard features and finishes and if you could clearly outline what upgrades are available.”

Salesperson: “Do you see that girl over there playing the harp?  Her name is Svetlana Annacondo and she immigrated with her fourteen siblings from war-torn Tearjerkistan in 2002.  She’s currently ranked 11th in the world by Harp Enthusiasts Monthly…”

Scene Three:

Consumer: “Can you tell me anything about the class-action lawsuit against the developer from the residents of the last project?”

Salesperson: “Can you tell me which one of these models is more gorgeous?  Madeline, Rebecca!  Get over here and meet Mr…….sorry, what was your name again, sir?”

Think I’m joking?

Not really…

Earlier this week, Mr. Roth organized an event called “Haute at the Republic” to draw attention to Tridel’s mid-town condo tower Republic, featuring a stylishly designed new model suite with furnishings from the nearby Art Shoppe; cuisine courtesy of celebrity chef Mark McEwan and North 44; and couture represented by models dressed in gowns by Yorkville boutique Hugo Nicholson.

First of all, I think “celebrity chef” is an oxymoron.

That’s like calling me a “celebrity real estate agent.”

Who cares about a chef?

Secondly, if you’re desperate enough to buy a condo just because there were some hot models wearing nice dresses, maybe real estate isn’t your biggest problem right now…

Can’t people see through all the BS and just look at the condominium itself?  Or are they confused by all the glamour and glitz?

….the builder created a facsimile of DNA-3’s rooftop terrace inside its 7,000 square-foot sales office, complete with sand, cabanas and daybeds, plus models in bathing suits.

Who cares?

Sand?  Really?  There was sand at the condo launch party?  Is there going to be sand at the actual condo when it’s done in four years?  Is this something that excites you as a consumer?  Or were you just excited by the “models in bathing suits?”

How realistic do you think that “facsimile” actually was?  Do you expect the same setup of daybeds and cabanas at the finished condo?  Or do you think (gulp!) there is a chance that either the developer changes the entire appearance of the rooftop (remember: “changes can be made with no notice”) or they’ll substitute $50 cabana beds for those $3,500 cabana beds that were present for the condo launch?

Maybe I’m just old fashioned and my goal in life is a wife, 2 1/2 children, a white-picket fence, and a job where I can wear a grey flannel suit…

I mean, how do you explain the buzz around Festival Tower in relation to last year’s TIFF party:

At last year’s party, guests were given security passes and walked the red carpet lined with paparazzi.

Who cares?

Is this why people buy condos?

I know I’ve stated on a hundred occasions that I don’t believe in the concept of celebrity, but do people really buy a condo so they might by chance see Kevin Bacon?  Okay, fine, it’s now been 24 years since Footloose, I’ll move on.  Instead of Kevin Bacon, how about…..Mike The Situation?  Would you overpay for a condo so you can see Mike The Situation in a wife-beater walking out of Festival Tower?  Is that worth paying $50/sqft more than market value?

If so, then I’ll sell you a shiny quarter for a dollar!

Please, oh please, oh PLEASE tell me that consumers weren’t actually lured into making one of the largest purchase decisions of their lives simply because they were allowed to walk on a piece of red felt for eleven seconds while professional photographers did NOT take their photos, and rather smoked cigarettes and/or texted on their phones while waiting for the truly important people to come out onto the glorious red felt…

I wouldn’t put it past anybody in this city.

Our city is obsessed with image, and I know of a few people who probably sat in the sales centre visualizing a photo of themselves on the red carpet placed squarely on their Facebook profile, and made a purchase decision based on that alone.

Oh, what a shame!

All this talking I do about crooked and slimy developers and how we need protection from them; what I should really be talking about is some sort of way to protect consumers from themselves!

P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every day.”

And as long as consumers continue to make purchase decisons based on what type of crab cake is present at which condo launch, rather than looking at the track record of the developer and the price of what he’s offering, then I don’t blame developers from chanting another famous quote:

“It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money…”

5 Comments

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  1. LC says:

    It’s called Marketing and they get paid big bucks by developers to do just that – seduce the public. Just like any other product.

    A sucker born everyday, indeed.

  2. Kyle says:

    Your last line sums it quite nicely. If some 905’er parent wants to take out a second mortgage on their 500K house to buy their spoiled kid a 400K condo, just so that kid can be closer to the downtown job, that he/she will never actually get, then who are we to stop them?

  3. Bertie Wooster says:

    Great post. You’re welcome at the house for cocktails anytime.

    The parties do seem like a desperation move.

  4. moonbeam! says:

    C’mon, I love Mike the Situation — I’d give anything for a photo of me & him — with or without the wifebeater – for my Facebook profile!!

  5. West Sider says:

    Which unit did Thandie Newton buy?
    (she’s the 3rd pic, I believe)

    Whatever she’s selling, I’ll take 3.

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