Commercial Real Estate
News and Insights

Don’t ‘Social Distance’ Your Asset from Prospective Clients

By Tyler Skroski (Philadelphia)



COVID-19 has sent a tidal wave of change across the world, with all of us adapting to the new “six-foot-norm” of social distancing. It’s great that we can stay one cart away in the grocery store and get our restaurant meals delivered contact-free. But how do you create and maintain an emotional connection when leasing or selling an office building, industrial development or real estate project?

You want prospective tenants or buyers inside of your building or on your development site, not six feet from it. You want them to walk through that newly installed gym, see the breathtaking views from their new top-floor office or hear the bulldozers moving ground at your development. You want to create an emotional appeal for your project -- a personal connection.

Unfortunately, there are new obstacles hindering if not outright stopping this much desired first-person interaction. Even as states “open back up,” family health concerns, corporate travel bans and raised anxiety levels are still complicating an already complex real estate decision-making process. But here’s the good news: There’s no need to “social distance” your real estate asset from potential buyers or tenants. Even with all of the challenges of a COVID-19 world, you can still successfully get your property in front of your targeted audiences.

Here are some ways to do just that:

Professional photography and renderings: With your target market at home scrolling through images on their various devices, eye-catching photographs (wide-angle, aerial, etc.) become even more important. The same goes for renderings. If your space is in shell condition or if your building is not yet built, provide photo-realistic renderings to help create an emotional connection for the viewer: Where’s your business’s new home? Right here.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR): Prospective tenants and users can still “walk through” your space without needing to travel anywhere. Three-dimensional virtual tours are an ideal way to showcase your space to tenants simply by sending a link. Your space is in shell condition? No problem. With augmented reality, you can render and “fit-out” your space to further enhance the at-home tour. This is also an option for larger industrial and build-to-suit projects -- and can additionally be utilized for large site-plan walkthroughs by creating a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the master-planned project area.

Location and lifestyle videography: Location, location, location. It’s not impossible to sell the location of your real estate asset without the potential tenant/buyer visiting. Consider hiring a real estate production company to help frame your project in a succinct 90- to 120-second video demonstrating the roadway access, amenity pool, public transportation connectivity and overall area feel. Stock footage can be used to save money, too, and the resulting video can pay off in a big way. Seeing everything that makes your location ideal can be just a click away for prospective clients.

Customized mapping, plans and aerials: This is another great way to sell your location while keeping a consistent brand message. Provide everything a client could want, including detailed amenity maps, regional highway access, property site plans, commuter rail schedules and more. This will focus all attention on your property, eliminating the unnecessary information and everyday feel of generic maps or Google screen grabs.

New website: If you’re implementing multiple methods and mediums for marketing your property, house them in one location online. Sending several attachments over multiple emails isn’t efficient or effective, as messages become lost in busy inboxes or recipients get annoyed. Purchase a domain name for your asset to further strengthen your succinct messaging. Rather than saying that you’ll send over three emails with four different attachments and two web links, you can now say please visit myproperty.com to find our video, floor plans, amenity maps, virtual tours and more.

Compelling writing and storytelling:
Use your new website to tell what makes your project special. Create a tagline and detail all of your property’s features in a succinct, engaging way. You can even include the site’s history if there’s something interesting about it. Engaging a public relations or communications firm can be a huge help with this.

Real-time/timelapse videos:
Your project is still under construction and people are asking for updates – and the images from Google Earth are three years old? It’s all good. Set up a construction camera with a live feed on your website. Now potential clients will see the beauty of your project build from the comfort of their house or office.

Targeted advertising and public relations efforts: Use this time to present your project or building to a reporter as something not COVID-19 related. Everyone is ready to read something, anything different. This can be done in a variety of ways, including a news release or a thought-leadership piece about how your building is being adapted. Or it can be part of a targeted paid campaign to showcase your project.

MLS platform upgrades and advertising: Real estate listing platforms offer upgrades to their services that will allow your project to be more visible in many ways. This could include banner advertising, highlighted listings or a prime spot in search results. Additionally, these initiatives are often part of packages that include other potential media components such as complimentary aerial photography/videography, high-end photography and more.

Yes, the pandemic has limited the traditional in-person ways to market properties, creating hesitations for building tours and visits to development sites. But there are creative ways around this – ones that will build a strong first and continued impression. With the right initiatives, you can still put prospective clients “into” your building or “on” your property. You can even attract more visitors than before the pandemic. After all, it will now be a lot easier to get there.

Interested in implementing any of these initiatives to market your real estate asset or project? Contact your local Avison Young office found here.

Tyler Skroski is a Senior Marketing Coordinator in the company’s Philadelphia, PA office.