THE SALES STAFF AT CROMWELL PARK knew that once people arrived and saw what the community had to offer, they'd fall in love with it. The hard part was getting them there.
“Most of our sites are off of main arteries,” says Martha Schantz, director of sales and marketing for Virginia Beach, Va.–based builder The Dragas Cos. “This is off the beaten path, and we're not allowed to use snipe [roadside] signs.”
While Cromwell Park was only a half-mile from a major highway, it was perceived as not very convenient, Schantz says. Plus, the product—spacious, two-story duplexes with a master-on-main option in a gated community—appealed to such a wide buyer demographic that direct mail would have been “very difficult to target. ... I really did have to depend on local media and our Web site,” says Schantz.
With what she describes as a “very limited marketing budget,” Schantz focused her efforts on the Saturday real estate insert of the local daily newspaper and a monthly new-homes magazine. “That's where I find my best response,” she explains. “People pick that up whether they think they're in the market or not. That seems to keep our traffic coming.”
Once they arrived, prospective buyers were impressed by the site layout, Schantz says. They were also taken with the duplex design, which looks like a community of large, single-family homes; the lake, which has covered seating; the clubhouse; and the pool.
“Once we got the people in, they saw what a fabulous product we were selling, and we were able to show them we were only minutes from what they thought was a central location,” Schantz notes. Those two factors helped make Cromwell Park a best-seller. “People who found their way there wound up buying there. They felt they'd found a little hidden gem.”
Project: Cromwell Park, Virginia Beach, Va.
Date sales started: March 2004
Sales through February 2006: 129
Total units planned: 132
Unit size: 1,900 to 1,943 square feet
Price range: $287,900 to $344,900
Builder/Developer/Architect: The Dragas Cos., Virginia Beach
BEHIND THE SCENES Proximity to caffeine: Only one and a half miles to get a fix at Starbucks
Poultry items in a model: Zero. “If you had asked about the number of elephants, then we'd really need to do some counting.”
Sales center munchies of choice: Bottled water
Sunset central: On a lounge chair by the pool with a piña colada in hand; suntan oil optional
Sales staff's fave feature in the best-selling plan: For pack rats, the Marsten model's walk-in attic
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Virginia Beach, VA.