Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) February 14, 2014
Last month, Real Estate Scorecard had the pleasure of being interviewed by Judith She, the managing editor a Bowden’s Market Barometer, a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground consulting experience. It is unique. Its insider approach provides meaningful residential, resort, recreational, and mixed-use community development trends presented specifically in the context of development, management, and sales.
On February 12, 2014, Bowden’s Market Barometer released a recap of their conversation in the spring edition of the newsletter:
ITS ALL ABOUT THE LOVE
On the heels of the worst housing crisis of her career, and at the risk of being politically incorrect, Margie Casey founded Real Estate Scorecard (RES) to assist buyers by assessing master- planned communities on a comprehensive list of factors, and scoring them in report card fashion in the hopes that buyers reading her reviews would learn and use the critical information before purchasing a property. Margies growing list of communities, located throughout the Southeast, now stands at 241, and all have been visited personally by Margie and most of them, several times. Shes innovative and is constantly testing what motivates a buyer.
BMB: Margie, welcome. So what makes Real Estate Scorecard different from the myriad real estate websites that provide community information?
Casey: Real Estate Scorecard delves much deeper into analyzing master-planned communities by scoring the current condition of amenities, developer creditability, and proximity to places of interest. Most importantly, Real Estate Scorecard’s website is a public platform where property owners of record share their personal opinions and experiences in the form of reviews about the neighborhood they call home.
BMB: Real Estate Scorecard’s approach ultimately provides more transparency so that buyers are aware of not only a communitys pros, but the cons as well. Does Real Estate Scorecard find buyers to be more savvy or perhaps more skeptical in the post-housing crisis environment?
Casey: The recession has caused buyers to be more cautious and aloof. Buyers search and search, and after theyve exhausted cyberspace, they might contact a broker. Buyers do not want to be pressured or sold so they have figured out how to avoid being chased by a sales person. On the opposite side of the coin, when buyers wait until the very last minute to contact a broker, they miss connecting with the one person that could make the process easier by providing hands-on, practical insight. Unfortunately, some buyers will miss out on historical buying opportunities because of analysis paralysis.
BMB: So Real Estate Scorecard’s intentions are to take them a step beyond the typical real estate search and alleviate buyer speculation and uncertainty — how does Real Estate Scorecard accomplish that? What types of information do you provide?
Casey: Reviews have become a popular resource on the Internet. The property owner reviews we collect are verified against public records and other sources to insure only property owners are submitting reviews. Real Estate Scorecard believes property owners provide the most reliable and interesting information about the neighborhoods they live in.
BMB: It sounds like a perfect opportunity for residents to complain.
Casey: Actually, quite the opposite. The RES score (Our Score) is typically lower than the resident score (Your Score) as Real Estate Scorecard tends to be conservative, and the residents use the forum to brag about their community and share information Real Estate Scorecard did not know. Often, property owner scores are much higher than mine.
BMB: So what does motivate homebuyers these days?
Casey: Surprisingly not money. For example, Real Estate Scorecard began testing the concept of commission rebates to buyers at closing. This concept launched in the Northeast and is being utilized by large real estate firms as a way to bridge consumer loyalty. Real Estate Scorecard tested it on the buying side and our conclusion is that its unimportant. Real Estate Scorecard suspects its more successful on the selling side as a way for sellers to reduce their commission payout.
What is motivating the buyers is love, which Real Estate Scorecard discovered through property owner reviews.
Casey: Its all about the love. The warmth and fuzziness of neighborhoods — people willing to lend a helping hand, share a warm smile, invite them to a ballgame, things like that. Buyers crave to find neighborhoods that are old-fashioned and friendly. Places where as they age, theyll have help nearby.
BMB: I did notice as I reviewed Real Estate Scorecard’s website that a majority of resident comments at the highly rated communities began with a statement about how friendly or welcoming the community was. If this is the new must-have amenity, how does Mr. Developer provide it?
Casey: Community development is cyclical. They start out shiny and seemingly perfect, getting significant attention and attracting residents by virtue of that newness and the potential that the community has to be better than all the others. At this early stage, the onus is on the sales staff to portray the community as friendly, welcoming, etc. While social amenities a clubhouse with good gathering spaces, a community garden can help, a marketing plan that includes strong communication back and forth between property owners is another way to satisfy the desire for camaraderie. Some communities have dedicated television stations, others playful websites, and others use Facebook as a tool to keep property owners informed about fun events and activities on the horizon.
A new shiny community over the course of a 20-year development cycle can turn to drab and stagnant as it goes through a variety of economic cycles and as new projects enter the market and steal the limelight. As the competition heats up, a developer or HOA can address it by focusing on the heartbeat of the community. Find out what makes the residents happy and deliver it.
If they want to be a golf cart friendly community, make it happen if you can. If they want to be dog friendly, adapt. Appoint a social club concierge to make sure everyone knows about all the activities organized by the community as well as the self-organized clubs. Utilize an existing amenity as the central meeting place and DONT charge them an additional usage fee. Solicit anonymous feedback to make sure youre on track. When the reports come back positive, engage property owners into sharing the love with the marketplace. Property owners make the best ambassadors!
BMB: Do you have an example of an established community thats doing it right?
Casey: Last week, Real Estate Scorecard announced fourteen Bliss Award winners. These are master-planned communities selected by lifestyle, location and from property owner review feedback. Tellico Village in Eastern Tennessee won Real Estate Scorecards most coveted Bliss Award as the 2014 Happiest Community of the Year. Nearly 500 property owners provided in-depth information about what its like to live there. For the most part, the reviews expressed a love for their neighborhoods, the communitys leadership, and well-maintained amenities.
Tellico Village has also done something unique in creating The New Villagers Club. This is a group of volunteers assigned as mentors to new property owners. The mentors role is to be the matchmaker introducing new property owners to neighbors, social clubs that might interest them, and to generally show them around. They meet once a month at the Tellico Village Yacht Club and it is quite an experience for the new resident to be welcomed and educated in their new neighborhood.
BMB: In addition to spreading the love, do you have any other advice for
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