The curious intersection of architecture and real estate marketing
The curious intersection of architecture and real estate marketing

Realestate agents and architects haven’t always seen eye to eye - a weirdrevelation considering one can scarcely exist without the other. One designsthe building, works with clients and engineers to manifest a conceptual meltingpot of ideas and constraints into a code-compliant dream made up of wood, steeland herringbone curtains. The other sells that dream...

So why all the animosity?

The easy answer is: architects are pretentious,ego-maniacal, status-quo disruptors who look down on real estate agents as amother pig would look down on her teet-feeding piglets, all the while real estateagents speak nothing but ill-will towards architects at company cocktail partiesdue in large part to their misunderstanding of the words “budget” and“schedule”. While faint hints of accuracy pepper these brash assessments, thereis so much to gain between a healthy relationship between the two stubbornsides… and all I can really say is:

Can’t we all just get along?

I’d liketo start this session of couples therapy by focusing on an important aspect ofthat relationship: marketing. An architect’s design is only as good its hypetrain. Since Don King is busy reminiscing about the good ole days of Tyson,Holyfield and Foreman, it’s up to designers and real estate agents to pack thattrain full of fast burning coal.

Architectsare great at making things. They are an eclectic bunch who think weird anddream big. They are idea men and women who take bold risks and champion qualityof design and cultivation of unique human experience above all else. So, how doyou sell experience? How do you sell quality?

It allstarts with the communication of design from the architect’s pencil to theconsumer’s eye. The buyer must be told what the thing is before the thing ismade. More often than not, speculative development is sold before it’s fullyconstructed. A tour of a half-framed building surrounded by a construction sitefilled to the brim with discarded red bull cans and rusty nails is nice, butoften leaves people with an apprehensive taste in their mouth. There has to besomething to facilitate the finished design so the perspective clients candigest the entire meal before forming a proper opinion.

In theseinstances, real estate marketers can rely on 3D rendering and otherarchitectural drawings to spoon feed them what they weren’t able to get fromthe site visit. Elegant animations and spatial processions put together with 3Drendering software such as VRAY, 3D Studio Max, and Maxwell and platform such asEasy Render provide the tools architects and designers rely on to give buyersthe experience of living before the paint dries and the keys are turned. Thisis where agents must work closely with architects to best develop an imagingstrategy that sells the most essential components of valuable real estate.

Theseshould be represented in the house itself, but also in important views,landscape and garden potential, as well as location and context in the form of bird’seye drawings of an entire neighbourhood. When potential clients get fatigueswith numbers, closing costs and construction schedules, these 3d rendering andvisualization images can put a positive spin on the process of purchasing ahome.

Moreimportant than the beautiful images at the end of the marketing brochure,though, is the up-front collaboration between the architect and the agent. I’mtalking about the groundwork - the conversations about site potential, targetmarket and design possibility. This is where the foundation of the entireproject gets ironed out, and it all boils down to what “can we get in thisparticular market for this particular location”. That’s all the real estateagent is really concerned with, and it’s up to the architect in speculativeprojects to squeeze the most design out of limited opportunities for compellingarchitecture.

How do you do this? Frame every question and every solution in terms ofvalue.

Floor toceiling windows and exposed steel columns don’t just look nice, they addtangible dollars and cents to an already profitable endeavour. The only realway to accomplish this is by making a case through 3d visualization and 3d designcommunication techniques. Explain to developers and agents through 3D renderingsand images exactly how increasing the quality of the final project adds morevalue than simply cranking up the square footage. This isn’t always an easytask to take on, and requires the proper tools and skills to pull off.

Thetools architects and agents utilize together to woo prospective clients are, infact, the same tools architects use to legitimize their designs to real estateagents in the first place. That’s where the first sale takes place, and can bethe point in their relationship where things fall off the rails. If the twoentities can’t move forward with an agreed upon set of criteria for the endproduct, distrust seeps in and ruins a potential mutually beneficialrelationship. The architect must communicate the design intent to the realestate agent just as they would to a contractor, albeit with a different set ofrules and goals.

Let’stake a look at a few design components that can add value to a project strictlythrough good architecture and smart design.

·        View Potential. This is a no brainer for anyarchitect. The site must be analysed in order to identify the best views fromthe site. This might be towards a mountain range or body of water, or perhapsbetween structures in an urban environment. Framing views appropriately can addimmense value to a realtor looking to sell high (and which ones aren’t?).Google Earth is a great tool to quickly get an idea of lines of site, withtools that allow you to import 3D models and explore potential using theirmapping data.

·        Solar Orientation. Not only can proper tracking ofsolar exposure give way to passive heating and cooling techniques, it also hasa massive effect on interior natural light. It’s an easy design step that canlower monthly electric bills (something to put in the marketing brochure) andpromote bright and interesting interiors. With the help of 3D rendering and 3D modelingsoftware designers can give realtors and buyers location specific 3D renderingsthat will replicate realistic sun tracking to show exactly where the best solarexposure is at any time of the year.

·        Exterior Space. In many cases, the subtractionof sellable interior square footage can make for a more desirable piece of realestate. Designing exterior spaces that are site and region specific can expandupon interior space and present a total package that is worth more than simplymaximizing lot potential. Cantilevered building mass to produce coveredexterior gardens, patios and decks add a lot of value, especially in urban centreswhere greenery can be scarce.

Theseare just to name a few. These visual and experiential components of the designcan’t be properly measured by numbers on a page. That’s where the intersectionbetween architecture and real estate marketing works its magic. Because thefact is, people who are about to send a pirate’s ship full of money on astunning new home want to know every nook and cranny their money is givingthem. They want the whole picture - a picture that can only be properly paintedby the left hand of the designer and the right hand of the agent.

Architectsand realtors might not always get along. They might take underhand (andoverhand) jabs at their respective place in the development process. They mightthink they’re better and more important and the real reason the perfect clientfinds themselves the perfect home. But at the end of the day, both parties goto bed at night whispering to themselves an undeniable fact:

You complete me.