In episode 8 of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate, condo sales strategist and host Uri Vaknin speaks with Lee Bryan, principal of Lee Bryan Interior Design, about using models to increase condo sales velocity and pricing. Uri and Lee, along with co-host Shahn Douglas, discuss the strategy behind using modeled homes to transform your sales program, including:
They go in-depth on the importance of design in a modeled home, including how to create memory points, the work-from-home trend, luxury penthouse design, how much a model should cost, timing of a model move – and how it all translates to increased sales velocity.
Uri Vaknin 00:16
Welcome to another episode of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate. I’m your host, Uri Vaknin, a condo sales strategist who has developed and sold out thousands of condos in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Florida, Detroit, Texas, Nashville and all across the United States. Each week I, along with my co-hosts and colleagues Mark Bunton and Shahn Douglas, will bring you the latest insights, best practices and sales techniques to sell out more condos faster, no matter the market. At times, we will delve into architecture, design and urban planning, as they pertain to condos and condo living. I am an admitted podcast junkie. But in our search for podcasts about condos, we all realized that there really weren’t any out there. Throughout the series, you will get to know more about me, Shahn and Mark and our 53 years of combined experience in the world of condos. Today’s episode will be on creating a better condo model program. And today with us we have a special guest, Lee Bryan of Lee Bryan Interior Design of Atlanta, Georgia. Lee’s been working with us for
Lee Bryan 01:29
six years, six years,
Uri Vaknin 01:31
six years in Las Vegas, on all of our condo models, and reimagining all of our common spaces and condominium buildings. Welcome, Lee.
Lee Bryan 01:41
Uri Vaknin 01:42
So what I want to talk about a little bit, you know, our philosophy is that models sell condos, on particularly when you have a variety of different types of floor plans. And so what we really want to talk about is how we see models differently than probably most other people. First of all, the more models that
Lee Bryan 02:05
yes. And the more styles, the
Uri Vaknin 02:08
better, the more styles, the better. And this brings up a very interesting point. You know, in our last episode, we talked with Mike Leipart of The Agency. And when Mark and Shahn and I worked with him on a large portfolio of condos, they had hired an interior designer, and he came in and his he came from the hotel design world, he’s actually was a designer who came up with the entire W Hotel design concept. And he came in, and he went to all the models to be one style. And here’s this major interior designer in the world. And I literally had to have this very diplomatic discussion with him about how condo models are very different, the whole concept is very different. You want your buyers or your prospective buyers to be able to project themselves into the home. And so therefore, you can’t just do all one style. Right?
Lee Bryan 03:08
Yeah, I mean, our con, our theory is that if walking into an empty home, people have a harder time envisioning their life in that home, then a model that’s already designed and furnished and look like they’re walking into someone’s home. That way, they have a better chance of envisioning their life in that home. And everybody’s not the same style. So when we put models together, we like to do a variety of styles, a variety of colors, not everything, just the beige box that you see in a lot of properties. We like color may not be this particular person’s color choice, but it may be the next person’s color choice. And we like to have something that people remember
Uri Vaknin 03:50
So Shahn, let’s talk a little bit about the way we prepare working, you know, opening up a new, a new development, a new condominium community, how we set up the model program,
Shahn Douglas 04:01
it’s pretty strategic and yeah, starts with really with we look at the inventory. And we find the homes that maybe we have more of to sell, you know, there might be a model or as a specific floor plan that we have abundance. So typically, what we’d like to do is we don’t want to show the best, the highest, the best view, we kind of go with what maybe it’d be the hardest place to sell, show them show the buyers, the prospects, how it looks modeled, and they can see themselves in that home. And it helps us sell some of those more challenged homes. That’s kind of where we begin. I know where you’re going with this with we go into the model profiles and we pick our demographics and based on who we think we’re going to be coming into the homes or who we know are going to be purchasing at the condos. We develop model profiles, and that basically speak to that target market. So maybe you want to pick up from there or your market. I’m in
Uri Vaknin 05:00
is one of my favorite parts about opening up a new community is literally what we do is, you know, we talked about in the past, where sometimes you don’t know exactly who your target market is, but pretty much you do. And then what we’ve done is you know exactly what you said, Shahn, we look at which homes really should be modeled. And then when we literally do is we we write up a story about who lives there a fictitious story about an individual or a couple or family. And then we give that story to the developer, and the developer, the interior designer, we give that story to the interior designer, and said, model their home, it’s like having an actual client for that specific home, which has been really great. You know, we, how have you found that too, you know, I know that was a little bit different. And working with other, you know, condo developers in the past, I come to you and say here is, here’s your client, a fictitious client.
Lee Bryan 06:01
And we’re not used to that. But it isn’t really that much more different than what we normally do is we try and do a little research on the area of where the condo is located. So we kind of do our own demographic research, you just kind of did more of that for us. And having a particular person to model upon for doesn’t really change it that much. Because the style we’re going for is still pretty much the same, whether we have that person’s bio or not.
Uri Vaknin 06:35
Well, in this community that we did in Houston years ago, called Mosaic, we literally had about nine different models. And we created these very in depth stories. And part of what the agents did, when they presented the homes of condos, to prospective buyers, was they talked about who kind of lived there. And it was really fascinating because literally the people we designed for are the people who bought those condos. One, there was one floor plan that was very masculine and feel and it and we literally wrote a model profile, that it was going to be a pro football player, and he wanted it to look like this hotel he stayed at in Las Vegas, which is kind of ironic, considering we’re not in Las Vegas. And although we’re pro football player didn’t buy that condo, a pro basketball player in Houston, bought that condo, which was really kind of hilarious. Um, and that was a real, you know, we really feel that it’s a very successful way, and really designing models. But you also said something earlier on that is also one of my keys and most important things when designing a model in a condo building. You know, one of the things that we say and not say we know, is that once a prospective buyer has seen more than three different floor plans, specifically, you know, on modeled floor plans, they start to run together. And once you go over five, they can no longer discern in their head what they’ve seen. And so, you know, oftentimes you have a buyer comes in says, show me everything, right? And so we can’t really show them everything. But sometimes we have to because that’s what they want to do. And so the way we deal with that is by creating what you know, we call memory points. And they’re very specific memory points that you know, talk about some that leaves in the memory points that we’ve done.
Lee Bryan 08:36
But we did a wall that looked like Legos, in a in a one bedroom home. That was an open plan that we wanted to close it in. Well, that
Uri Vaknin 08:46
was that was very controversial. Some people in our team, were not very happy about it, they thought it looked a little too childish. And literally, it was a dividing wall made up of a new product at that time.
Shahn Douglas 09:01
Can I interject, I sold a home with because of that wall, I sold a home to a young guy who bought the similar floor plan. And he you know, got a different color scheme. We had the bright yellows and reds and whites and it looked very leggy. He went with more of a gray and black were like kind of the Raiders colors. But you know, it did help sell. And it just depends on who was open to it. But it’s it was a great memory
Uri Vaknin 09:26
and the model so and so it actually bought the model with that, which is going to be part of our topic. discussion today is about selling models. So that was a really interesting thing was a really strong memory point. You did not forget that model. And that was part of what we were trying to do. Obviously, you might not do that in some condos and this was actually at jewel here downtown Las Vegas. And it was fun building a little more artsy neighborhood. Exactly. And so that really worked. That was a great memory point. You know, any other ones that stick out
Lee Bryan 09:59
some colors Some dramatic color that we’ve done in some models. Some of them one of the reasons also is most people that are shopping for a condo are not just shopping at one building, they’re going to your competition as well as your property. And you want their views of your property models to be the ones that they remember. Some of the others in town, which I’ve viewed on different occasions have been a little bit more vanilla, and less memorable. Just because they want they go for the mass market, and then thinking that if they do everything, vanilla, and beige, it won’t offend anybody. But also you don’t remember, right. So ours, a color may offend somebody. But there’s other models to see that are not that color. And they will remember the building because of the the models have points that they kind of stick in their mind.
Uri Vaknin 10:53
I’ve never been accused of doing a vanilla model.
Shahn Douglas 10:57
Yeah, like when you add all the little things like, I know, one time we wrote up a buyer profile for your hair tool that mentioned, you know, the person was into art. So our artwork looked it was very, it was very, you know, heavily designed with art or record players where you, you know, that person’s into music. And then you bought albums. And there was various album covers that were in the, you know, the man cave that we designed. So you’ve done a lot of really great things like,
Uri Vaknin 11:26
we’ve been on the electric car, remember that? Mm hmm. And we actually sold that model to a guy who, like he was in the music industry in Vegas, and that home also had an interior bedroom, which he loved the whole concept. And that was pretty cool. Make
Lee Bryan 11:45
it a quiet room, a
Uri Vaknin 11:46
play room. That was the man cave that you just talked about Shahn, I
Shahn Douglas 11:49
remember the one we did with the trapeze that we sold to the Cirque du Soleil performer.
Lee Bryan 12:00
The monkey hanging from the ceiling,
Uri Vaknin 12:03
the monkey lamp hanging from the ceiling that everyone who came with that model remembered it. And I think we sold that home in record time. Right? Did
Shahn Douglas 12:11
you know The thing about these models are we as soon as we get them complete, they sell and then we’ve got to move them?
Uri Vaknin 12:17
Well, that brings up another really important topic. So you know, one of the things that there’s two schools of thought they call them static models, and a model move program. And, you know, historically, you know, when you sold condominiums, what you did was you would you know, have three models, and you would not move them and you would not sell them right again until the end. And so one of the things we learned is that people will always want to buy the model. And what’s really fascinating is that when they want to buy the model, they will also they’re willing to pay more money for the model of home, even though we’re going to move the furniture out of it. And it’s a really fascinating phenomenon and some and, and what we also have told people, okay, if you want to buy the model home, this is our model home. And we’re going to one move the model and to get her interior designer to come back and reconfigure in a new space not cost us money. And guess what, you know, nine times out of 10 they say sure I’m willing to pay the extra amount.
Shahn Douglas 13:30
Well, you had to take in my two that Lee does great wallpaper paint colors. So even though they may not be purchasing the furnishings, they they’re still getting a lot of these accents that Lee does throughout the home as part of the purchase price.
Uri Vaknin 13:44
It’s a great point, the wallpaper definitely we’ve done a lot. We’ve just done glass, beaded wallpaper, we’ve done some some graphics,
Lee Bryan 13:51
some murals, some pop art, wallpaper murals,
Uri Vaknin 13:56
it’s amazing how much bang for the buck you can get with wallpaper, it really is. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on it even now. I mean, well, that glass bead like last between yesterday. But it’s just so fabulous today, but back to this model move concept is so you know, what we learned at us during the Great Recession was you can’t find a market why fight a market just plan better for the market. And so when we came into Las Vegas, we were literally you know, selling in a market kind of mediums where the the kind of market had literally died, we had to revive the entire condo market. So one of the things that we plan from the beginning in our marketing budgets. And Shawn, if you were to chime in on this is we literally had a budget line item for model moves. Because we were like we’re not going to fight the mark. Yes,
Shahn Douglas 14:44
quite a few honestly.
Uri Vaknin 14:47
Yeah, people we know people are gonna walk come in, walk in and say I want the model or I want the home that the model is in. I don’t want the furniture necessarily, or I want a couple pieces of furniture. I said well we also report Paired with was to a live pricing for the furniture that people wanted. Sometimes we were willing to sell it sometimes we weren’t depending on how new the model was or they know if it’s a little bit older remodel. And then, you know, the really great thing is so we’ve been doing this for six years now in Vegas, we our first model that we did within here, the three bedroom, Ogden, we still have that. We’ve been moving that furniture to probably nine different models. It’s still in great condition, and it’s now modeled in a three bedroom at one Las Vegas. And every time we use that furniture, it sells that model.
Shahn Douglas 15:46
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Uri Vaknin 16:42
So it’s really been a modeling is really key. So a couple things is one is we don’t believe in a static model program. I never have never will, why fight it Did you know, but you have to plan for it properly. By that I mean, you have to financially plan for budget wise, but you also have to, you know, you can you can actually cover the cost by letting the buyer know, if you want to buy the model, you’re gonna have to pay the initial amount for the move. So that’s been really you know, we do believe that we also believe in the more models the merrier. As I said earlier, and a lot of people a lot of time people are a little reluctant to spend the type of money up front. But if you can increase your sales velocity, and your sales pricing, why not spend the extra money? And then there always comes a question of how much should a model cost? Shahn, anytime we’ve ever worked with someone new? Is that not the first question about when we can present models, but I don’t want to spend more than an hour and so forth. And they always get a little bit shocked. And then we’re like,
Shahn Douglas 17:47
we’ll give you rooms to go model that’ll be about what you’ll get for the $25,000
Uri Vaknin 17:52
you want to spend exactly when you’re trying to build value, you need a good model.
Lee Bryan 17:57
So an Ikea model, because everybody knows what IKEA furniture looks like.
Uri Vaknin 18:02
And that’s been one of the great things with you, Lee is that you have picked furniture that you can’t necessarily buy in the store that you sourced from really great places at great prices. And they look really good. So that’s been exciting. So I don’t know if we want to go in this area, but like, you know, what should models cost? Typically, to get a fully fleshed out model, anywhere from 20 to 30% of the sale price is what you’re going to spend for a fully fleshed out model,
Shahn Douglas 18:36
what’s fully fleshed out mean
Lee Bryan 18:38
with wallpaper with furniture, acessories artwork, window treatments, like a full home that looks like it’s lived in.
Uri Vaknin 18:46
Well, and so one of the things that we’ve done with window treatments, we know can get very, very, very expensive, very, very quickly. So the way we’ve always handled it with you was
Lee Bryan 18:57
we do decorative panels versus fully operational Window Treatments because part of what you’re selling in a condo is a view and you don’t need to close it up. You just need to soften the edges. And that’s what the type of window treatments that we generally do in a model by softening of the edges, a little bit of a sound buffering so you don’t have an echo when you walk through a model with all hard surfaces. And it just has a little flash washer color and texture. Yeah, and
Shahn Douglas 19:26
I have a question for lately like what do you how do you You know, sometimes we have very small spaces in our one bedrooms or the studios. How do you design for a space that’s really tiny do you put more furniture in less furniture
Lee Bryan 19:41
with a furnished home always looks bigger than an unfurnished home, which sounds counterintuitive, but it’s it’s the fact because you have something to give you scale and proportion. If you walk into an empty home with no furniture, it automatically looks smaller. Once you’ve put sofas and chairs dining rooms and fully flesh out the spaces. It looks like it’s got more room in it than it did when it was empty. That’s why models help help sell especially in condos that aren’t very grand and sizes that you can see that you can actually live in the space where if you walk into a small room How can I fit all my stuff in here?
Uri Vaknin 20:24
Well, in that you bring up a great point there because a lot of condo buyers are actually empty nesters. And they’ve actually probably since college or some senior their first job after college, haven’t lived like an apartment or they’re not used to living in a condo space. And so they’re coming from these larger homes. And most people call it downsizing, we never call it right downsizing, we call it right sizing, because we believe that the buyer is moving to a size that is right for how they live or how they live. Now, usually the kids are gone on they don’t need all that space. They don’t need the formal dining room and living room, they want the great room. And so what’s really important is for especially for this buyer for the empty nester four out to help them see how they could right size. So, you know, when designing like, how do you take that into consideration.
Lee Bryan 21:23
But I mean, everybody’s, I mean, when you’re designing for a client in particular, then you get their feedback on what their needs are, when you’re designing a model for a buyer that you don’t know. You’re just trying to appeal to as many people as possible. I mean, there’s certain things that people need at home, they need a place to eat, they need a place to watch TV, they need a place to and especially now a place to work, and a place to sleep. So you want to make sure that the home has all of those accounted for. So you don’t want to walk into a home that has a great living room. But there’s no word for someone to sit down and have dinner. And you want to have a place that’s got a comfortable bedroom. But you also need a place that they can sit. It’s not in the bedroom. But we did a lot of work in another building in town that had mostly very small studio homes. I mean, we’re talking 450 square feet to Wow, 700 square feet. And you had to have all of those things in that space.
Uri Vaknin 22:23
How did you do that?
Lee Bryan 22:24
We careful placement of furniture, careful proportions of furniture. So it was one room you had the kitchen was along one wall, you’d have a bed kind of backed up against another wall and then the seating area in the corner and a little bar height table with two bar stools. And you could fit everything in the room we furnished 38 homes in that building. Wow, that were sold,
Uri Vaknin 22:49
furnished, but selling homes furnished. You know, it’s everyone always says they want to buy the model furniture and then buy the whole model as it is.
Lee Bryan 22:58
But then what happens? They balk at the practice, they bought the price, but then they spend more when they go out and have to recreate it on their own.
Uri Vaknin 23:05
Exactly. They have no idea what it really costs to do all that. But I want to go back to earlier you said you know 20 to 30% of the cost of the home. The price of the condo should be what the model should, should cost right
Lee Bryan 23:22
before before for a model that sold for someone to live in. I mean, there are there are ways to do models cheaper. But the effectively, less expensively, but the furniture typically is also less expensive. And it’s not of the comfort level that someone may want to have in their forever home. I mean, you’re buying it for the look versus for the comfort level of it.
Uri Vaknin 23:47
Well, and there’s also the question of you know, at what level of condo caliber pricing? Do you start using a true designer furniture? You know, a lot of times we’ve done knockoff because yeah, and you know, talk about like, what, how you make that decision.
Lee Bryan 24:06
I mean, when you’re looking at a condo that’s under half a million, you’re never going to use like designer furniture. You may use some designer accessories, but you’re not going to use you’re not going to use like the really high end furniture from half a million to a million. You kind of put a little bit of both. You put some designer pieces that people know or some really good quality reproductions of designer,
Uri Vaknin 24:29
what do you put your favorite designer pieces that you like to put into a model
Lee Bryan 24:34
the Eames chair is always a good tear to use in a model people know it means lounge chair that sits right over there in my own home then and there are companies that make amazing reproductions you can get that chair for $1,000
Uri Vaknin 24:48
I will not say whether or not mine is a reproduction or real
Lee Bryan 24:52
and my lips are sealed. Or you can spend $5,000 on the original. But for a model home, there’s really not need to do that, by the reproductions are amazing. No. mid century pieces have been very popular for the last eight to 10 years really, and they’ll continue to be popular. They have good lines, they look good in the models, and you can find the originals or you can find really good authorized reproductions that are more affordable for a model. Others that aren’t necessarily pieces that people would know. But you can tell by the look of them that their quality. And that’s important when you get into the higher dollar value items.
Uri Vaknin 25:35
So there are a lot of people who hire a designer, because they want that designers signature look. And, you know, when we hire designers, while we may appreciate that person’s signature look, we don’t really want a signature lot. And so how has it been for you to work with a client like us, where we are saying we want depending on the the building, depending on the floorplan type, depending on whatever it may be, we kind of know that kind of we know what the demographic bought for that the buyer demographic is? How does it like to work with us where we just one completely random different things?
Lee Bryan 26:19
That’s my preferred way? Because I don’t necessarily have a designer Look, I don’t have a I don’t have a book.
Uri Vaknin 26:28
As you wear your Christian Louboutin shoes.
Lee Bryan 26:31
Yeah. But I also have Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, and I and I have Nike shoes, and I have all kinds of shoes. I don’t have a signature look. I mean, every project that I’ve done has been vastly different from very classic Art Deco French style to somebody that looks like they live in the jungle style. I’ve got a portfolio of vastly different styles, designing is creating something new and different. And recreating the same thing over and over again, is not to me, it’s not really designing. It’s just
Uri Vaknin 27:07
great. Wow, I like that. See, Shahn? Yeah. Well,
Shahn Douglas 27:13
my question was like, how do you like to, you know, when we asked you like, Okay, we’ve got, you know, remnants of this model and that model, and we need a new model. And we need you to come in and take a look at all the stuff that we kind of have, you know, collected, because the home is sold, and we’re ready to move, and then you have to go and kind of use all the materials that you’ve already purchased. But it’s a mix of different styles and such. And then you are great about this, but I just want to hear what you think when you have to come in and have to take everything that we’ve jumbled together it put it back out there and make it look great,
Uri Vaknin 27:47
we make you cobbled together a little guide,
Lee Bryan 27:50
it’s definitely more challenging to do that. Because when you’re when you do the initial model, you pick things for that size and space and everything kind of blends together. When you have to kind of put them together from bits and pieces of things that are left over from previous models or move models. We kind of call them Franken models, trying to put together the best possible result from what you have to work with. And luckily, since we don’t we buy decent things that are not necessarily built to spill to space, they can be reused. Some things are a little more challenging, like the ones we’re doing right now. A sectional that we purchased for where the model was supposed to go. But then we thought
Uri Vaknin 28:42
that we we
Lee Bryan 28:42
sold did not fit in the model
Shahn Douglas 28:44
Uri Vaknin 28:46
Right? I didn’t mind that problem. That’s not
Lee Bryan 28:49
the things that were bought for that penthouse didn’t fit in the model that we were moving the things too. But we were asked to create another model out of other leftover pieces, and it fit over there. And we just switch things around and it looks great. And things are coming together. We’ll have them finished up in the next couple of days. And really
Shahn Douglas 29:07
have an art to do of doing that you really do a good job.
Uri Vaknin 29:11
You know, it’s difficult to work. A lot of designers would totally balk at the idea of like, here’s like literally cobbled furniture for leftover from five different models make something fabulous out of it,
Lee Bryan 29:23
that we found out on Wednesday, we needed to do exactly
Uri Vaknin 29:27
that. The other thing you know, so that brings up another great point is we move at lightning. Oftentimes, we want to get things done right away. And we know that not everything is always available and a lot of models he plan oftentimes three months in advance because of lead time for furniture production, especially now,
Lee Bryan 29:49
now is really difficult, because nobody has anything,
Uri Vaknin 29:52
anything. So how do you deal with you know, how do you deal with that when we say we need this model done in three weeks from now and you’ve done It like but like talk a little bit about how you’ve been able to accomplish that? Well, we have
Lee Bryan 30:05
very good accounts with very good companies that generally keep inventory of product so we can get things shipped out within a week. Right now, that’s a little more challenging, because since most of the factories shut down for months, there is no inventory. So it’s a lot more legwork on Iran finding things and actually having to actually go and buy things from stores that will sell us off the floor, versus buying from vendors that keep inventory.
Uri Vaknin 30:33
Yeah, cuz numerous times you’ve sent me You’ve texted me images of stuff and say, pick one of these five sofas now, because it’s gone into men. Exactly. And that causes me a lot of stress. But I also appreciate it too, because I know you’re out there looking for things that are available now. And that’s been it. I mean, it when you start up a project, you usually have extra lead time, right? That’s not how we’ve been working.
Lee Bryan 30:57
Now, man, the initial models, whenever the building is just getting geared up, we have more time, we can get things that are custom made, we’ve done some that have like custom built in Wall units. In the initial models that one for example, we had the the custom kind of I Dream of Jeannie room that that
Uri Vaknin 31:14
is at the Ogden. That wasn’t the that
Shahn Douglas 31:17
wasn’t the Ogden that
Uri Vaknin 31:18
was a den space that we were talking about that. So there was a floor plan that had a lot of square footage. But a lot of the square footage was like, right, when you walked in the door, there was this dark sort of Dan, that was about 10 feet by 13 feet to 10 to 15 or something. Yeah, and it was a weird space, no windows. And typically people just walked right by it. And so we had, we had to add some real value to that space, because it made it home rather expensive. Because if you alter the price per square foot basis, so I came up with this idea to I said, I want a contemporary I Dream of Jeannie BOD, and you looked at me, it would have been like a three heads. But then within a second I’d like to, like a light went off in your head, and you came up with an idea. And you came up with a drawing talk about that.
Lee Bryan 32:09
Yeah, so it was a room with no windows one entryway from basically from the kitchen and the hallway. So we wanted to create a little den that when you walked in the home, it was inviting and would pull you into the space versus something you just pass by. So it had a built in cabinetry a built in sectional bar that had a drop down serving area on it. So it had everything you need to kind of spend your time there versus spending it in the in the living space where the big windows are which in Vegas, a lot of people work weird hours. So if someone purchased their that worked all night and wanted to sleep during the day, or just children today without being in the bright sunlight, or the vampires of Vegas, which you have here to people, they just live their life at night. That gave you a kind of a more cocooning space in a home that otherwise was very bright and airy.
Uri Vaknin 33:03
And it looked like a temporary modern, I Dream of Genie bottle on the inside. Yeah,
Lee Bryan 33:09
other than being not being round.
Uri Vaknin 33:11
It wasn’t around when it was when you presented him the cost for just that built in thing which included the boat itself, the death, the TV area, the window, and a wall is the drop down bar. I believe the cost was 26,500. And we’re on there. Yeah, I remember very clearly. And I had to sell that to my partners. And they’re like, like, that’s the cost of the model. I said, No, no, that’s just a cost of one little element in the den. But we had like 25 of those four points. As like, we’ve got it, we need this. And people loved it. And we literally and this was one of those things, where do you sell it? Or you do not? Don’t you sell it. And we just knew that one of the we tried to create it with so long that we didn’t want to sell it and we couldn’t really move it necessarily. So we kept it until we had three left. And then these people came in and said they had to have it. So we made a decision when we had only three of that four plan left to fill that, that that fourth grade with that built in. And when we told the people the price of it, they had no issue with it whatsoever. And we charge them the full price of that, you know, a lot of times people after models been around for a while may you know only charge kind of a depreciated amount to it. But for us, it doesn’t make any sense to sell a model furniture at a discounted price, because then we’re going to just need to replace it. And not only are we going to have to replace it at full cost for the furniture, but also your designer costs which are not that high. So I thank you very much. And so, you know, it’s been interesting that people have been willing to pay the full price, you know, and there’s no reason for us to not Trying to fall price round. That’s been really kind of great. But it doesn’t happen all that often. Some people just want to pick and choose some pieces, which you know, as Sean talked about. And then we ask you to cobble together a new model. And you’ve done that beautifully. So I want to talk about something that’s very near and dear to me, is the artwork. So when we, you know, I come from an art gallery background as an art dealer. And obviously, we can’t use always what I would call real artwork or original artwork,
Lee Bryan 35:33
we can’t use original, we have use some original artwork and some of the models and some commissioned artwork, correct. But we do have sources for artwork that is actually artwork, it is painted, it is not screenprints. Generally, it’s real artwork, but it is made for the commercial market. But But I’m also for someone that doesn’t believe artwork needs to match, you don’t need a painting to match your sofa, thank you for saying you don’t need a painting to match your color palette, paintings. And artwork is supposed to match the personality of the whole moment. So we get the buyer profiles. So we try and pick artwork that kind of fits the buyer profile. When we work with you, when we work with others, we pick artwork that kind of fits the profile of the buyer that we put in our heads. We just don’t have it written on paper, like I do, right? So in even in a residential job, that’s not a model that actually has a client, I don’t generally go out and buy their artwork, I send them to art galleries to buy their own art. Because that’s awesome. artwork is not something that, again, that matches your decor of the artwork should match the personality of the person. Right? Well,
Uri Vaknin 36:56
you know, it was difficult at first to not have what I call original artwork in the homes, but obviously, big budgets, but it truly allow for that. But then I would go with you on the quote, art buying trips to the place called the design centers. Yeah. And so we picked some great iPad, let’s move on to another topic, which is my favorite topic to talk about when it comes to models, which are penthouse models, you know, penthouse models, especially Vegas, you know, they have to be spectacular, right? But then we also give you a very specific budget, that isn’t spectacular,
Lee Bryan 37:36
but they’re not terrible. But I could always spend more.
Uri Vaknin 37:41
Let’s talk about how you achieve something. I mean, you every time we’ve done a penthouse model for us, like they sold and they sold immediately. And then but half the time people do buy the furniture and half the time they don’t which has been ability to store
Lee Bryan 37:55
they buy half the furniture, or
Uri Vaknin 37:56
they buy half the furniture. And then we make you you know cobble back together something, but it was talking about your philosophy about on designing a penthouse model for a condo,
Lee Bryan 38:05
penthouse. By nature, they’re spending a lot of money. So the pieces that go into a penthouse have to look appropriate for that price point, when they’re you cannot use a cheap knockoff. I mean, if you’re going to use a knockoff, it still has to be a good quality, top of the line. But most of the enhancements, we’ve used a much higher caliber of furniture, and Italian imported furniture, good quality pieces that someone would buy for themselves.
Uri Vaknin 38:36
Plus also because a lot of times people are going to buy that furniture and we know it. And so we have we know we have to do a slightly better, better quality of furniture.
Lee Bryan 38:47
And we also want to showcase what the penthouse itself has in the architecture, whether it’s the views, your higher up, generally, you’re going to have better views, you want to focus the views and accentuate the views. So you don’t want anything blocking that. So the window treatments would be still there because it adds richness to the home, but you want to keep the windows open. It’s got to look comfortable. It’s got to look like someone could walk in the door and fill out they’re walking into their home. If memory points are not as specific to a penthouse, you don’t want to go with anything that’s like shocking, because what the penthouse is offering all already is the view the status of penthouse buyers not buying within house. Simply because it’s another condo in the building. It’s because it’s the penthouse and there’s a bit of a pain actually goes with being a penthouse owner.
Uri Vaknin 39:50
So we like to make sure that when you walk into that home, you can feel like you can just sit down and it’s yours. Awesome. Well, you know, interestingly Is that, you know, all of our floor plans have dining spaces and historically people be doing designing condos oftentimes have either left out dining room tables because they do barstools at the kitchen counter, or they might do a smaller dining room table. You know, we’ve really been focused on really showcasing and demonstrating larger dynamic capabilities. How has that been your experience of doing models?
Lee Bryan 40:28
dining rooms are important, but they’re somewhat less important than they used to be. Well, until this year,
Uri Vaknin 40:38
well, that comes up. And that brings on the topic of COVID. And how, you know, one of the things we’re doing right now with you is we are reconfiguring all of our models that work from home space to add work from spaces because that is the first thing. That’s the first thing, but one of the first things today’s buyers app is looking for is a place to work from home. And historically, it was their laptop on their kitchen counter and a kitchen island. But that’s no longer sufficient, right? For myself included, like I used to do that. But now, you know, you can’t do that. So like how have you been able to approach that
Lee Bryan 41:15
we’ve purchased a bunch of different desks and just different styles. Some of the smaller homes, you don’t really have room for a full desk situation. So we have, in one case, we have a desk that hangs on the wall, you can pull it down when you need it. And I thought that was really cool and close it up. And it’s out of the way. It’s like the size of a medicine cabinet. But most places, you can kind of whittle the desk into the space. But even post COVID I think they’re going to be a lot more people working from home because businesses have found they don’t need as much space, rental of office space is going down. Because people can work from all the big tech companies especially most of those people may never go back to working in their office. So working from home and having a space to do it that you can close up or leave and not feel like you’re at work 24 hours a day is important. And not having a your computer or constantly on your dining table that your mind is now is is going to be more important in the future. The Joule especially is kind of interesting because it’s got so many different layouts and open floor plans that a lot of things can be configured in that building to create an office space that you don’t have to look at 24 hours a day and build a need to go back to your computer when you shouldn’t be off work.
Shahn Douglas 42:42
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Uri Vaknin 43:34
I think models now are actually even more important than ever, because people are spending more time at home. So they want their home to be their sanctuary, which is one of our taglines and make your home your sanctuary. Um, and how do you how do you see that manifested like, you know, thinking about people spending more time at home when you’re creating models now.
Lee Bryan 44:01
Comfort is the main thing you want to have. You want to have multiple places for people to be comfortable in their home other than just like one chair or once based on the sofa and having everything you need at home. Kitchens are more important now having all the gadgetry that you can cook for especially for people that aren’t used to cooking that used to go out to eat every meal and now don’t for either restaurants not being open or just fear of being in public.
Uri Vaknin 44:31
So when you model homes, how are you merchandising them more than we always merchandise the models
Lee Bryan 44:38
because explain why merchandise means it’s making it look like someone lives that you can go into a some designers models that are very sterile, they don’t have anything that makes it look like someone was there. You may not want to have framed pictures of people in the model. So because you will People to visualize themselves in the bottle. But you do want to have dishes and a coffeemaker on the counter in the kitchen and coffee cups, and you kind of want to look like you’re visiting someone’s space while they’re not home, to see what life could be like in this particular building. In the jewel especially because there’s so many different variations, hundred 47
Uri Vaknin 45:25
different floor plans,
Lee Bryan 45:26
and most of them are still open there, they have the potential of being divided up into multiple rooms. But right now there most of them are just one big room. But when that room was very large, last open space, yep, big, like multiple loads, that the average person may not be able to walk in and visualize that as two bedrooms and a living room and a kitchen and a dining room. In some cases, we’ve just taped out potential walls. That’s been
Uri Vaknin 45:56
really fun, because you can’t, you can’t model every single home round, right? But when you have a variety of different floor plans, especially when you have open loft spaces, for people always say they want an open office space
Lee Bryan 46:09
until they see where do I put my TV, right.
Uri Vaknin 46:11
And so what you’ve done, which is really kind of brilliant was literally taking like blue blue, painters tape, painters tape and taped off, you know, the possibility of where walls and doors could be placed if someone wanted room dividers, or whatever. And that actually, it was interesting, we had one floor plan that felt like a little like a very long railroad car. And it was, you know, much larger than the average two bedroom condo. But when people walked in as they used to work earlier, it would take one very long room, right. And people couldn’t even envision where their bedroom would go. And once we just put tape on the floor. Instead of modeling it, it’s sold like the next week, because people can see exactly where a king sized bed would fit exactly where their sofa without exactly where the dining room table go, just by laying down blue painters tape.
Lee Bryan 47:02
And if even if you don’t want to go to the construction aspect of building walls, I mean, you can make those divisions with drapery with moveable panels, there’s many ways of dividing the space up. But the average person can’t walk into a big L shaped space and visualize that as being multiple rooms, they see a room, right? And having just having those, it’s like looking at a poor floor plan and full size, you’re able to see where things can be. And then you can walk off the spaces in those rooms and see Oh, yeah, this room is actually plenty big for a king sized bed and a dresser and the two nightstands and a chair and
Uri Vaknin 47:42
yeah, I mean, obviously the best thing would be to be able to model element you can’t model every home? No. Well, we do have any last words of wisdom for us today,
Lee Bryan 47:53
Let’s do some more,
Uri Vaknin 47:54
I definitely do some more, so Shahn let’s recap a little bit about kind of our model philosophy. You know, one is, we believe in doing as many models as possible, right. And then two is we do not believe in the concept of the static model, we plan I prepare for and budget model moves. And we you know, to pass it for us it’s been very, very successful. We also love to create, as part of our program is we create a model profile for each of the model homes, we write up literally who’s going to be in that model. And then you design per that, when we do sell a model, we, you know, allow the buyer to buy the model home. And if they want to buy some of the furniture on they have to pay full price for the furniture because we have to replace the model.
Shahn Douglas 48:50
Forget that we also you know, don’t sell our prime homes or model our prime homes right
Uri Vaknin 48:55
Shahn Douglas 48:56
try to pick homes that have a challenging view or are slowing.
Uri Vaknin 49:00
Yeah, yeah. So another thing is great point, Shahn is deciding which homes should be modeled on I mean, there are times when we do model our you know, we’re on a prime home in order to get the most value, the highest price we possibly can because people will pay more money for a model home. But you know, use your models strategically to sell the ones that people may not understand the floor plans that they may not understand. Because that’s been really successful for us for some very, you know, quirky floor plans that we had a job particularly where as you said they may be one large open space or have different lobes or whatever it is. So that’s really key penthouse models. Don’t skimp on the penthouse model. We just don’t do it and let you know. Finally I’d like to say you know is hire Lee Bryan with Lee Bryan Interior Design.
Lee Bryan 49:57
I agree wholeheartedly
Shahn Douglas 50:00
I would I would give my recommendation on that as
Uri Vaknin 50:02
well. He is bi Coastal Atlanta and Las Vegas goes back and forth and even has a showroom in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lee Bryan 50:12
And we are an international. We have done models for condo developments in Panama and the Bahamas.
Uri Vaknin 50:19
Oh, wow. I remember you telling me about those Panamanian deals that you did. So will we thank you very much for joining us. I know you actually have to get back to Georgia finish designing some new models and cobbling together some older models and Franken models and with that said thank you very much everyone. Thank you listening for listen to this episode of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate.