Mastering Master-Planned Communities

Tips to Become the Friendly Neighborhood Specialist
Realtor shaking hands with couple in front of their new home.
Master-planned communities offer more than homes — amenities like walking trails, community centers and pocket parks are just some of the many features MPCs offer residents. Here’s what you need to know about selling in these neighborhoods.

If you’ve ever looked into selling new homes, you wouldn’t be surprised by this fact: Many new-construction homes are found within master-planned communities.

And if you haven’t, you may now be wondering what a master-planned community even is. In layman’s terms, a master-planned community, or MPC, is a neighborhood of homes, usually built by the same builder or a collection of builders, with set floor plans and a multitude of amenities such as community pools, shopping centers, jogging trails and more.

Additionally, if an MPC still has homes for sale, the community will often have a sales center built within a model home where sales and marketing team members are waiting to help home shoppers learn more about the community and its homes. That’s where you come in.

If you’re looking to switch focus to selling new homes or simply want to add new homes to your showing schedule, you may want to consider becoming a master-planned community specialist. In order to do so, you’ll have to be prepared to know your master-planned community inside out.

“The community representative role has the same essential structure and responsibilities across the board, however no two communities are the same in the outward presentation,” says Shannon McSwiney, marketing director for Newland Communities in Wilmington, N.C. “You may have one community with representatives who provide concierge services along with telling the community story to prospects, and another community whose representatives are also café attendants and serve up coffee to visitors much like a barista.”

Serving up coffee may sound like a fun and easy way to get to know home shoppers, but how does one get to know about the community itself in order to turn them into home buyers?

“Working with master-planned communities, asking questions and living in a master-planned community are the best ways to learn about them,” says Kathy Mayer, a marketing manager at Travisso, an MPC near Austin, Texas. She also suggests attending a training session specific to that community’s development when offered.

In addition, builders within that community are another great resource to help you learn the community.

“Builders and MPC specialists are on the same side,” adds Mayer. “They both want to see a buyer choose a home in the community that suits their needs. The specialist will show a buyer all options at a given community, while the builders’ presentation will focus on the builder alone.”

Builders will usually be more than happy to show you a preview of that presentation — anything that will help you connect with the home shopper.

Below are some final tips to help you master any master-planned community, starting with the home shopper.

Tip #1: Connect with Your Customer

One of the primary keys to any sale is to always put the customer first and selling new homes is no different. To do so, it’s vital to create a connection with them right off the bat. And yes, that can be as simple as serving them up a cup of coffee with your newfound barista skills.

By creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, representatives can quickly establish a connection that can make the shopper want to stay and linger a while, McSwiney says.

“Our MPCs in Newland Communities are focused on customer experience and so much of that is based on the community representative role and the people we have in place that are consistently talking with and nurturing the prospects,” she notes. “They are extremely integral in setting the tone for the overall experience.”

In connecting with your customer, it’s also vital to tell an accurate story of the community. By knowing all the ins and outs of the community from the amenities to lot openings to local schools, you’ll be able to connect by appealing to the shopper’s senses and emotions.

“It’s important that an MPC specialist paint an accurate picture of what is planned in the community,” Mayer emphasizes.

Tip #2: Master Your Marketing

To paint an accurate picture, you’ll have to make sure your marketing skills are up to date as well.

“Our representatives play a key role in informing marketing strategies based on whom they see coming through the door, what they hear on a consistent basis and even serve as a conduit to the on-site builder agents in product representation, builder differentiators and initiatives, pricing and floor plan selections,” says McSwiney.

The more information available to you, the better you can represent and promote your community, she hints. The more you know, the more questions you can answer accurately. Thus, be prepared to answer not only the positive questions, but the negatives as well.

For instance, MPCs appreciate better than regular communities, according to Mayer, and offer many great amenities. However, people who prefer urban high-rise project or historic neighborhoods typically have a hard time finding their fit in an MPC, which usually feature new construction and single-family homes or townhomes.

Having facts like these in hand will help build customer trust and make the sell that much easier.

Tip #3: If You Want to Join a Builder, Ravish Your Requirements

Finally, just be prepared to knock your requirements out of the park — or out of the community in this case. “We require a person with a high level of customer service experience and positions in which they were actively engaging with customers,” says McSwiney.

This can include anything from retail, high-end resort lifestyles or event planning, she notes. So if you have similar experiences, be sure to showcase them in your application.

In some cases, the community might also require you to be a licensed real estate broker. Be sure to check with the community you’re interested in. “Our goal is to promote the community and help (shoppers) identify where they might fit,” says McSwiney.

So if you feel like your past experiences are calling you to help people find the home of their dreams, it might just be time for you to master your local master-planned community.

About the author 

Drew Knight

Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism. He previously edited and designed pages for the Bryan-College Station (Texas) city paper The Eagle, wrote for the Brazos Valley’s premier arts and entertainment publication Maroon Weekly and worked in publicity at Warner Bros. Records in New York City.

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