Recently, one of my clients told me he wasn’t interested in a particular new condo project for a very interesting reason. He said he felt the sales staff made him feel uncomfortable. When I mentioned that the building had a lot of good resale potential due to its location as well as a few other unique attributes, he said he had a bad vibe about the place after spending only a few minutes in the sales center and wanted to look at other places.
It’s interesting how the sales center is becoming an increasingly important element of the condo buying process for many of my clients even though in pure economic terms, the sales center is quite insignificant. Once you buy the new condo, you will hardly ever deal with the sales center again. Certainly, when it comes time to resale, the original sales center will be a distant memory and it’s former offices will be most likely occupied by an antique or high end furniture store.
So why does the sales center matter more these days? My sense is that with the explosion of new projects all over the Seattle, buyers have more and more choices that are starting to look awfully similar. Thus, the "vibe" buyers get at a sales center can often be enough to differentiate one project from another. Just glance at the comments on my Lumen versus Mosler post and you’ll see what I mean. Much like the plethora of restaurants in Belltown, if you can get your pan seared halibut in a place where the staff are courteous make you feel welcome, that can make all the difference. Similarly, when faced with so many concrete and steel, extra large windows, granite counter topped projects, the sales center experience is one of the things buyers are paying more attention to these days.
So what should buyers expect from a condo sales center? That’s pretty subjective but as a Realtor who spends a lot of time working on behalf of my clients doing research, putting in offers, and evaluating units, here’s my two cents:
- You should be treated with warm, sincere, professional service the moment you walk in the door. Good sales centers feel like Canlis, super high quality and high service without high attitude.
- You should be given straight, comprehensive, fact-based answers to your questions. Especially for first-time home buyers, you should feel comfortable to ask basic questions and not made to feel like you’re asking for a favor by asking a question.
- All the data you need to make your decision should be readily available: floor plans, prices, known future changes around adjoining areas, upgrade costs, etc.
Those are the bare minimums. Clearly, every sales center has its own feel and personality — much like all the restaurants in Belltown. Some people even go so far as to think the sales center impacts the type of buyers which ultimately affects the vibe of the condo community years later. E.g., if a sales center has a really warm, laid back feel, it might attract that kind of buyer who will be your future neighbors in the building.
What places give a great buyer experience? Some sales centers which I think have done a really great job of providing a warm and welcoming buyers experience are Lumen, Trio, and Parc. Lumen, in particular, does a fine job of giving you a very positive vibe and at the moment, might be the Canlis of condo sales centers 🙂