Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selling the City
When Long Beach, Calif., broker Scott Hamilton takes on a condo project, he generates so much excitement that buyers will wait in line all night to make an offer.
October 1, 2010
Doma Properties, Long Beach, Calif.
Years in business: Started in real estate in 1992; opened brokerage in 2001
2009 gross sales: $103.2 million on 294 transaction sides
2010 gross sales (through July): $48.3 million on 118 transaction sides
Number of offices: 1
Number of sales associates: 20
Finding His Niche
I started in real estate with a new-home sales company in 1992, right after I graduated from the University of Southern California. The California real estate market was in a deep downturn, and I was later recruited to buy and reposition properties to add value. In 1996 I decided to branch off on my own; I cofounded a real estate company, Hamilton Realty Advisors. Over time, I saw a niche in helping real estate developers sell unique urban living spaces. And that’s what led to the creation of Doma Properties.
The Big Splash
The project that really launched Doma Properties in 2001 was the historic Walker Building in downtown Long Beach, which was built in the 1920s by the same designers as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The property housed Walker Department Store for more than 30 years. But after the store closed, the building sat vacant for decades. We got on board with the Borg Long Beach Development Corp., which successfully transformed the building into 39 luxury lofts, seven two-story penthouses, and 20,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.
For the Love of Lofts
Once we got into urban lofts, we didn’t want to go back. Our clients are easy to communicate with and many of them are younger, so the turnover is faster. They’ll move more frequently for work, and they have growing families. When it’s time for them to move again, we’ll be there for them. We stay connected with our past clients through our database and we keep a presence in the projects we’ve completed. I love that we’ve made Doma a creative and highly adaptable real estate firm.
Sticking it Out
In 2007, we became involved in a new development in Anaheim called Stadium Lofts. The project involved 390 residential condos. The condo market was disintegrating, so we knew we had to put together a strong value package. We made many optional upgrades standard. Units were completely furnished with appliances and granite countertops. We offered to give buyers 6 percent of the purchase price to prepay HOA dues, cover closing costs, or make additional upgrades. This was when Doma started hosting buyer events.
Lining Up for a Good Deal
We held our first event at the Stadium Lofts development in the summer of 2008 in conjunction with a local advertising agency. First we invited potential buyers to tour the development, select their top three condo choices, and go through the prequalification process. They were then given an event pass, which allowed them to come back on the day of the event for special pricing. When the doors opened for the buyer event, the first people in line got dibs on their chosen units at discounted prices. Some units were as much as 40 percent off. It was a complete success. Buyers lined up outside the building. Some people even camped out overnight—our sales agents came out to bring them coffee and snacks. We had music playing. It was a lot of fun, and it generated buzz in the community.
Seeing It Through
For the Stadium Lofts project, we ended up having two big events that netted about 80 condo sales. For those who went through the initial tour and prequalification process, but who didn’t get the unit they wanted because it sold to someone ahead of them in line, we went to the developer and asked them to revamp certain homes to look more like the ones that sold fastest. The process revealed a lot about buyer preferences. By spring of 2009, we had sold 335 out of the 390 units. And last summer, we held a “Final 40” event. We maintained buyer urgency, which helped us sell out the development.
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