Attracting new Members who appreciate the enhanced value of the Club lifestyle is a core component for any private club to be successful. While many Club’s enjoy beautiful amenities and vibrant social scenes, the marketing of their unique lifestyle is often focused with internal membership only, leaving outside real estate agents focusing on the stick and bricks, without having an understanding of the mindset of the country club buyer.
With sold out communities where the developer is no longer involved, the marketing of the Club lifestyle is falling into a void between the Club staff who is working with current members and the real estate team focusing on new residents. Now, insightful private club managers are strategically shifting their focus as they recognize the critical need to drive real estate sales success. Let’s delve into how this shift will reshape the future landscape of private club real estate.
Selling the Private Club Lifestyle
The unique lifestyle of a private club is its biggest differentiator. However, with a decentralized network of brokers handling home sales, the focus is on property characteristics and market trends, not lifestyle benefits. Many agents lack knowledge of the Club’s membership structure and do not have the ability to support the added cost of HOA and Membership Fees within the community. It’s a foreign topic that makes it difficult to gain their focus against non-club communities. An on-site real estate team dedicated to the Club community plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap, but can be a complicated task to set up, requiring long-term vision and committee approvals.
Bay Harbor, Petoskey, MI
Proactive Advanced Planning is Important
In today’s highly competitive club market, understanding the dynamics of the private club real estate process is imperative. Drawing from past experience is critical to understanding the unexpected pitfalls that may arise when transitioning to a new approach. Many of the country’s top private clubs have turned to Cotton & Company to give them a competitive edge in a world of exclusivity.
“Our work with Ocean Reef Club and Boca West Country Club in Florida are amongst the most dramatic success stories,” says Laurie Andrews, President of Cotton & Company. “Although we have worked with dozens of Clubs in Florida, we have also assisted Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Michigan with their challenges.” Cotton & Company’s specialized team has assisted private clubs to develop marketing programs unique to each club’s respective objectives. Moreover, as an integrated sales and marketing solution, the agency possesses a deep understanding of the Club industry and how to balance the needs of current Members with the changing demographics of future generations.
Orchid Island, Vero Beach, FL
New Technology at Work
Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club is a private barrier island community in Vero Beach, Florida with a Member-owned on-site real estate team. Owning real estate in Orchid Island is a requirement for Club membership, directly aligning the goals and objectives of both Club and realty operations. With few homes available for sale, the objective shifted to enhancing the current real estate values by driving continued demand for future listings. The digital marketing efforts shifted to a focus on high quality of leads generated and an in-depth analytical review of the most qualified leads. The program included a review of how these consumers were consuming information about the community and they depth of research being completed.
The new marketing campaign focused its messaging on Members enjoying a purpose-filled life and allowing future Members to gain a better understanding of the community culture. Cotton & Company’s campaign – Life on Purpose – demonstrates the Orchid Island lifestyle through interesting Member profiles showcased in an innovative digital brochure. Multimedia marketing tools, storytelling videos, and interactive 3D facilities tours have provided future Members with a glimpse into the private club community.
Financial Benefits of Real Estate Operations
Funding the ongoing marketing efforts for any Club has always been difficult due to budget considerations. With rising labor and materials costs, dues structures have been impacted significantly. Finding a revenue resource to fund the Club marketing on a long-term basis is a collateral benefit to the Club. Real estate sales commissions can be used to fund the program in perpetuity.
Outdated Residential Properties Impacting Home Values
With the surge of country club communities developed in the 1980s, many are now dealing with aging properties where interiors have not been updated over time. Now, these outdated homes are being sold “as is”, impacting the comps and property values within the community. Cotton & Company took on this challenge at Boca West in South Florida, and the program became the catalyst for a real estate boom. A robust Renovation Program was developed and implemented at Boca West Realty where Stephann Cotton serves as the managing broker.
Through the Boca West Renovator Program, regional builders were recruited to transform outdated properties. The low-priced “as is” properties didn’t hit the market until the renovations were complete, significantly impacting the values in the community’s 55 villages. Boca West Realty’s 2023 market report demonstrated the astounding results, with overall sales revenue increasing 365% to more than $135 Million in sales in 2023 alone. The average sales price throughout the community rose 235% during the same time period. In just three short years, Boca West Realty now holds a remarkable 70% market share. Boca West has always been an industry leader for forward-thinking innovation, and the results speak for themselves.
NAR Court Ruling Brings Uncertainty and Opportunity
The financial headlines have focused on big changes forthcoming in the real estate industry, with Buyer’s broker networks at risk. For private club communities, marketing will become even more important to ensure a healthy real estate landscape. Stay tuned for updates as this issue continues to unfold in 2024.
About Cotton & Company
Cotton & Company is a full-service real estate marketing and sales firm with decades of luxury brand expertise. Recipient of Board Room Magazine’s 2023 “Excellence in Achievement Award,” the firm is uniquely focused on the private club industry. The firm’s portfolio of success includes more than 1,700 communities worldwide. Cotton & Company’s daily monitoring of internet based analytics and consumer behavior through a variety of social media channels are used to generate a highly targeted lead generation approach. With a staff of 35+ in their South Florida offices, Cotton & Company combines proven strategies with innovative technologies and an unmatched level of creativity. Visit CottonCo.com to learn more about their full scope of services which range from branding and website development to sales support, lead generation, and digital/social marketing.