The chance to stroll through the woods and snap photos lured 800 buyers to a sneak preview day at an unbuilt community. By BUILDER Magazine Staff

Sometimes before you build it they will come. Targeting empty-nesters, the builder of The Pinehills in Plymouth, Mass., invited prospective buyers for a long walk before ground was broken on its new community. "We mailed boxes with a color invitation to come to the site, and we included a 35mm camera with film," says marketing director Donna Tefft. "The cameras were custom wrapped with our community name and logo, telephone number, and address." Tefft says that she encouraged prospects who called to come "make their own memories" at the 3,000-acre community.

"We had a uniquely positive vision about this piece of land," says managing partner Tony Green of The Green Cos. based in Newton, Mass. "The hilly, view-laden character of the land means people have to come experience it for what it is, long before anything is built."

More than 800 qualified buyers came to a one-day, three-hour preview in fall 2000, with the cameras and invitations in hand. They toured the site on foot through mowed pathways.

The Pinehills generated 400 sales within 12 months of the preview--long before the golf course was completed.

Photo: Charlie Brown

The Pinehills targeted 2,500 qualified buyers and high-end real estate brokers. Guests were encouraged to tour the Rees Jones golf community and to walk along the walking paths in pine forests where the new community would be built. Campaign Details Program: Direct mail invitation and camera; Project: The Pinehills, Plymouth, Mass.; Builder/Developer: The Green Cos., Newton, Mass.; Prices: $300,000 to $1 million for homes from 1,551 square feet to 4,500 square feet; Ad agency: DiBona Bornstein and Random, Boston