Marketing Advice from Experienced Affordable Housing Developers

Marketing Advice from Experienced Affordable Housing Developers

Many nonprofits and local governments have developed innovative strategies to market and sell affordable homes. In the case studies listed below, experienced affordable housing developers offer lessons learned and advice for designing and implementing a successful home marketing and sales program.

Argenta Community Development Corporation in North Little Rock, Arkansas and the City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority also contributed their experience and insights to this guide.

Below is a brief summary of the advice that these organizations offer to others who are developing a marketing and sales plan.

  1. Know Your Buyers: Know what your target customers want, and do your best to deliver on their expectations for the house, the neighborhood, the financing and customer service. Don’t put a house on the market that isn’t marketable.
  2. Plan and Monitor: Have a plan for marketing, and keep track of how strategies are performing. Make changes where necessary as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Fund and Staff Marketing: Be prepared to fund and staff your marketing and sales program – many, but not all, strategies are “free,” and they all require time and expertise to implement. Hire professional help if there is no one on staff with enough time or experience to do it justice. Share marketing tools and costs with other developers like you in your market if possible.
  4. Marketing Team: Create a strong marketing team with a clearly defined role and meet regularly to monitor progress.
  5. Customer Service: Make sure your customer service is top-notch. Buyers, real estate agents and lenders may have to go through many more “hoops” to work with an affordable home subsidy, and great customer service can soften the impact.
  6. Clear and Simple Messages: Avoid jargon and acronyms in your marketing messages. Keep it simple, cheerful and “in plain English” – or whatever language your potential customers prefer.
  7. Sell the Neighborhood: If the houses you’re selling are in a distressed neighborhood, you are going to have to sell the neighborhood, too. Build a comprehensive strategy for revitalization and image-building to support home sales.
  8. Partners: Get your partners lined up at the beginning – builder, real estate agent and lender – and choose those who are experienced, enthusiastic and ready to deliver their part of the product package.
  9. Cultivate the Real Estate Community: Potential buyers will very likely contact a real estate agent, a lender or a homebuyer educator before they contact you. Be sure to cultivate your relationships with these people so they’ll make referrals. Keep them up to date on marketing messages and strategies and make it easy for them to be ambassadors for your program.
  10. Have a Professional Look: Try to get your marketing materials professionally designed, because potential buyers will judge your credibility by them. The more professional your look, the more confidence buyers will have in your ability to deliver a quality product.
  11. Websites are Key: Buyers today use the Internet more than any other tool in their home search process. It is worth investing in a very professional website that is consumer-oriented, easy to navigate and kept up to date.
  12. Get Visible: Network constantly to make more people aware of your homes, the neighborhoods and the attractive financing you have to offer. Host all kinds of events in your houses or in the neighborhood, for your organization or others. Anyone could refer a buyer to you.