Welcome to Season 2 of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate! In this episode, condo sales strategists Uri Vaknin, Shahn Douglas and Mark Bunton give their perspective on where condo buying is headed in 2021. After a difficult year defined by social distancing and isolation, they predict that condo living – and the access to amenities, connectedness, and attachment to community that come with it – will make a strong comeback in the last three quarters of 2021.
Uri, Shahn and Mark examine real estate trends in both the single family market and the local Las Vegas market, and look to history as a guide to make a prediction of stronger condo sales as the year progresses. Uri even proclaims 2021 “The Year of the Condo.”
Listen to learn how to convey this message to prospective buyers and buyers’ agents, and how to change conventional wisdom that a single family home is always the best real estate choice.
Welcome to Homeownership (nytimes.com)
One Las Vegas draws California buyers (reviewjournal.com)
Uri Vaknin 00:00
People are going to want to be together again. We are not going to want to be socially distanced. I mean that is a term we are going to want to erase from our vocabulary. And there is no better way to have social connections than to live socially connected. And you can most easily do that by living in a condo. 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 1000s of condos in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Florida, Detroit, Texas, Nashville, 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. One of the things that has become glaringly obvious to us is that most people, including real estate agents, buyers, architects, and even condo developers, don’t fully understand condos. This podcast will pull back the curtain on the world of condos. Welcome to Season 2, Episode 1 of the Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate. Today’s episode is called From Social Distancing to Social Connections. Hey, guys, so everyone had real high hopes for 2021 you know, kind of got off to a rocky start. And, you know, obviously, the first few months of this year are probably not going to be the best in us history. But I gotta tell you, nonetheless, I feel really optimistic about the future and about, you know, the rest of this year.
Shahn Douglas 02:37
Same. Good. Yeah, very optimistic.
Uri Vaknin 02:41
You know, I mean, as craziest things were, we really ended the year really strong. As we’ve talked about, we had our penthouse sale, one of our penthouse is at Juhl, close, and it was a million dollar condo, which equated to $508.80 per square foot for a condo in downtown Las Vegas. Well, I know for some of our listeners in New York, or San Francisco, or London or Singapore, because we do have listeners from those places. They tell him sound like a lot. But for downtown Las Vegas. It’s a tremendous amount of money on a price per square foot basis. But what was also exciting is that, you know, I always say and this has been an issue that I’ve always had in selling real estate, everyone in real estate, for some reason wants to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s, in my own personal history and the buildings that we’ve always worked on. It’s sometimes it’s not the best traffic, but the traffic that does come in is always really qualified and really good. And at the last week of 2020, we sold two of our penterraces at Juhl here in downtown Las Vegas. So I know what that begs the question for our listeners. What is a penterrace? Shahn? You want to take it away?
Shahn Douglas 04:14
Yes, penterrace what the way we describe it is it’s it’s a it’s just like a penthouse. That has a huge terrace and ours are two story and our terraces are pool level. So you can walk right out onto your beautiful terrace, which is an extension of your living room. And then from there, you can walk out into our beautiful pool deck with all of our new landscaping. New cabanas. So it’s a it’s been a very successful campaign and sales.
Uri Vaknin 04:49
I know and what’s really cool was, you know, we launched that campaign of our penterraces at the end of the year, December and immediately we sold two of them You know, which, you know, begs sort of a whole nother podcast episode on, you know, creating unique product names for different product types, like penterraces, obviously, and we are actually going to discuss that in a future episode, which is really exciting. But we ended the year on a great note, we started the year on a great note as well, too. We just released our penthouse at One Las Vegas, which is, you know, completely renovated, absolutely beautiful. Already have people interested in it. But we also closed one of our more expensive homes in our first week of the year as well at One Las Vegas. So, you know, it’s not only that I’m feeling hopeful, and that you guys are feeling hopeful. But I have to say that we are actually seeing that and feeling that with our buyers. You know, although a lot of our buyers are now in quote, second lockdown, they are still participating in our zoom open houses, which has been really great. We’ve had that
Shahn Douglas 06:09
we have some people that are coming in, and I’m not coming in, but like actually writing a contract before they come in order to you know, make sure that home is is still available. And I think it’s one of our penterraces.
Uri Vaknin 06:22
Yeah, that that was so reassuring to me, because we don’t have that many penterraces is that you all and the agent, actually, our agent actually got the buyer to write a contract before coming in because she was afraid of losing it. Obviously pending. You know, it’s contingent upon her viewing it, but she had seen the other penterraces. And so I think that’s also really exciting. So, you know, although there’s all this craziness in the world, people are feeling hopeful. I mean, obviously, with the roll out of the vaccine, people, you know, when you are seeing their life, obviously, you’re not getting back to normal, but they see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that is what’s been really exciting. And we feel it, you know, every day at the sales centers. But what’s really kind of interesting is, you know, at the same time, as we heard all these media reports, locally, and also nationally, that while the single family house market, meaning non condos, has been cooling off doesn’t mean that it’s it’s lost a fever pitch, but they’re still selling well. As soon as we read that what we saw was an uptick, and not just, you know, in our condo sales activity, you know, in the sale centers, or at least through zoom. And also on closings, I mean, we actually closed to the penthouse closed a month early, and the other large home at One Las Vegas also closed early, because people are really excited about moving forward. Um, so that is also been kind of interesting. But I think that portends something that we, you know, the three of us have been talking about pretty intensely about what the end of the pandemic is going to do. And what we, you know, said we were going to see in 2021, but we’re already seeing it. And that goes back to sort of what I’m going to call the essence of the condo lifestyle. Right,
Shahn Douglas 08:32
right. The heart of why people live in condos.
Uri Vaknin 08:35
Exactly. It’s funny, cuz not funny, but it’s really encouraging. The CEO of Wynn casino, you know, hotel and resorts, Matt Maddox, you know, very presciently commented that you know, what happened after the Great flus of 1918 and 1919, that flu epidemic, he said, what came out of that was the roaring 20s. You know, wherever, for almost two years, everyone was isolated from each other. And what came out of that was this extreme desire to party together once again, and to be together and have excitement together, celebrate and to celebrate moments together. And you know, what we’re lucky about here in Las Vegas is we know where everyone is going to go. Once they’ve gotten that double shot of the vaccine in their arm.
Shahn Douglas 09:35
Maybe maybe more than a vaccine, right?
Uri Vaknin 09:36
right. They’re going to be coming to Vegas, they’re going to come here to party, they’re going to come here to let loose. But you know, as we all know, we’re already seeing this mass migration of buyers coming from California and other places. You know, the talking about that penthouse sale. The buyer was California from from LA, the two penterraces, one buyer was from Wisconsin, and the other buyer was from Portland, Oregon. And they’re all coming to Las Vegas. And they’re, you know, we’ve talked about this, you know, in the past, but we’re seeing it, you know, more and more. And this is, this is a trend. I mean, you know, Tesla has talked about leaving California and other companies have talked about leaving California for low tax states, and, you know, better affordability. And so we’re seeing that that constant influx into Las Vegas. But, you know, those people during the pandemic, you know, when the market was at fever height everyone was looking for, or most everyone is looking for a single family house. And we’ve talked about this, you know, why are they looking for a single family house during the pandemic?
Shahn Douglas 10:56
Well, they wanted, they wanted to be away from everybody, they wanted their own space, they wanted to have fresh air in a yard that they could walk out into, you know, also the yard that they would have to upkeep and maintain eventually, right?
Uri Vaknin 11:09
Right, they want to be socially isolated, socially distance from their neighbors. You know, and, you know, I don’t know if we’ve talked about in the previous podcast, but you know, that article that we talked about in the New York Times, where all these people who’d moved out of the city, and moved up to the Hudson River Valley or in the country, and now that quote, Winter is coming, it kind of reminds me of the Game of Thrones, you know, they realized, Oh, my gosh, what it’s like to actually own a house. And they were always kind of dreading the concept, you know, they were sick of already mowing the lawn during the summertime. And now the idea of shoveling snow and getting oil for their furnaces, thank God, we don’t have those issues here in Las Vegas. But it was a really interesting article nonetheless. And so, you know, back to this concept of, you know, from social distancing to social connections, is people are going to want to be together again, we are not going to want to be socially distant, I mean, that is a term, we are going to want to erase from our vocabulary. And there is no better way to have social connections than to live socially connected. And you can most easily do that by living in a condo. And that goes back to, you know, the essence or the heart of the condo lifestyle. Right? Right. You know, which is all about, you know, one, you know, first, first and foremost, it’s about, you know, the lock and leave lifestyle is what we always call it, right? where, you know, you want to go on vacation, you just close your door, lock your door, someplace, you have to lock your door, because you’ve got so much security in the building, and cameras and stuff like that, but the idea of what are people going to want to do when this pandemic is over, what Haven’t we done in almost a year,
Shahn Douglas 13:01
I know what I’m gonna want to do travel.
Uri Vaknin 13:04
Exactly, we’re gonna want to travel, and people are not going to have to worry about their house or maintain their yards or keep their pool clean or, or their landscaping or whatever it is, we’re gonna, we are yearning to get back on the plane and go, and condo living has always been, you know, the best product for housing that enables you to do that. So I think that is going to be, you know, really key to how people are going to want to live post pandemic. You know, so weird to say post pandemic, right, when we’re in sort of the worst of the second surge. But we do see a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s there, you know, it’s so reassuring every day to see, you know, the 1000s of people, although in lines to get there to get their vaccine, but it is creating the sense of hope. But the other thing that you know what living in a condo does, it gives you that ability to have direct access to people. Um, you know, we were so excited in our buildings, especially, you know, one Las Vegas where we have our giant party room called celebrate, where just as you said, Sean, people are gonna want to celebrate again, you know, I anticipate as soon as you know, we reach whatever it’s called, you know, heard, I was gonna say herd mentality, but herd immunity with enough people being vaccinated, and they’re saying that can be somewhere between the end of March and the beginning of May, when we get to that point, I assure you that celebrate room will be booked every day, you know, and the coffee
Shahn Douglas 14:45
bar will be back open and everybody will be able to, to congregate there and talk to neighbors and you know, there’s a lot of benefits of living in condos that we’ve had to kind of put on hold for the time being and I think people are ready to to get back out. And the sports lounge where
Uri Vaknin 15:02
people would, you know, just by chance, meet other neighbors and play ping pong or play pool and hang out for their afternoon cocktails. Well, granted, the gym has been opened, but you know, there have been certain number is limited to a certain percentage of people of occupancy could be in the gym, that’s no longer gonna be an issue, people will be able to bring their private trainers back into the gyms. So it’s it’s really exciting. But if you live in a single family house, you’re going to remain socially distanced. And you’re going to have to work hard in order to be socially connected, which is what we all want to be again. And so that is going to be really interesting, because one of the things, you know, that we kept on hearing from people who were looking at our condos, not that we did continue to sell condos, during the pandemic, but one of the things we kept on hearing that people were also looking at single family houses, right. And so we would have to try to, you know, and that’s always been the challenge of selling condos, is because people are oftentimes looking at single family houses or townhouses and a condo where we all know and if you listen to them, and if you listen to their meta message for the reason for buying, it’s all about that condo lifestyle. But as we’ve discussed, it’s the conventional wisdom that says buy another house or, you know, when they quote in their mind downsize, we know we call it right size, they just may move from a larger home to a smaller home. But that’s not really what they want. They really want all the things that come along with the condo lifestyle, from the amenities, the lock and leave the social connections, extensive community. And so I mean, I think that’s really going to become amazing. Thank you.
Shahn Douglas 16:58
maintenance. Yeah, they don’t want to have to pay I mean, who wants to deal with all that?
Uri Vaknin 17:02
Right? You know, I mean, that’s one of the great things about living in a condo is that you don’t have to take care of anything but inside your own home.
Shahn Douglas 17:12
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Uri Vaknin 18:08
And but then the other thing that the condo, most condos offer, you know, is accessibility to the community. A lot of people buy a condo, because they want to be walking distance to things. And that’s going to be another thing that people are really going to want coming out of post pandemic is the ability to, you know, go to restaurants and bars and you know, theater. Like, you know, who knew we missed theater that much? You know, but we really realized during this pandemic, how much we’ve missed the concept of, you know, going to a theater with perfect strangers. What
Shahn Douglas 18:47
about concerts? Sorry, we’ve talked about this many times. It’s gonna be the first year well, 2020 but we don’t have any concert ticket stubs.
Uri Vaknin 18:57
I know my personal budget line item of $4,000 has not been used up at all in 2020. Do we even see a concert in 2020?
Shahn Douglas 19:08
I did early on I saw Aerosmith in January. Yeah, I have the tickets. Um, but, uh, no. I mean, you and I typically see three to four concerts a year, I would think and
Uri Vaknin 19:20
I think it’s way more than three or four a year, we see maybe three or four big ones. I get Hollywood like that a year. I think about all the other smaller concerts that we’ve seen.
Shahn Douglas 19:31
To get back to that either. So.
Uri Vaknin 19:34
So I you know, I think it’s really important for people to realize that when you live in a single family house, you have to get your car, you’re gonna have to drive to wherever to make those social connections. So that condo lifestyle because of its amenities, because of you know, the connectedness because of its typical attachment to community like restaurants. bars and theater and culture, people are really going to look for that again. But as we all know, with conventional wisdom, it’s sometimes our job to really help people see through that, right.
Shahn Douglas 20:15
Uri Vaknin 20:16
So when you know Mark, this is your big thing. Um, so what are we gonna have to do with our buyers?
Mark Bunton 20:24
Uri Vaknin 20:32
Mark just throws that out there T.I.R.E., you’re assuming one that our listeners have listened to every single episode of our podcasts. So why don’t you go into a little bit more detail than that
Mark Bunton 20:46
I have, well, we have traffic come into our sales offices, we use a call of a system system called T.I.R.E. in order to get to know our buyers better in a very short amount of time. And T.I.R.E. stands for T is for timing. I is for investment. R is for requirement. And E is for experience. And we have a whole podcast devoted to tire that you can listen to and familiarize yourself exactly what each of those four letters T.I.R.E. means, and how you can put it to use for yourself.
Uri Vaknin 21:25
Right. And if you haven’t noticed, every time Mark made a point he banged on the table in order to make sure you got the point. So what Mark is really getting at is when the buyers come into the sales center, we obviously have to focus on all components of tire timing, investment requirements and experience. But right now we have to really focus very heavily on the experience part, what else are they looking at? Because what we know, and we know this because we, you know, it’s funny. People always say like, why do you speak like you’re such an expert. And I say, because I’m not just in it every day, we see this and hear what the buyers are wanting and doing real time, when you read an article, that information is usually three months old, because in order for them to aggregate the information and to to have some real data, it’s old, we know what’s really happening right now. And so, we are experts, but we also are on our fingers literally on the pulse of the market. Every single day. You know, we all know, every day what’s happening with every prospect and everyone who comes into the sales center. And so what you know, what we’re hearing right now are the buyers who are looking at a condo, they’re also still looking at a house. But as I mentioned earlier, when you ask them, you know the qualifying questions we can pull out of them. And we already hear it, that their meta message is that everything that they want is the condo lifestyle. But they feel that they have to, you know, go back to that conventional wisdom of this house, partially because of the pandemic. And also because that’s just the conventional wisdom and they haven’t bought a condo before. So it’s really incumbent upon the condo, onsite sales agent or the buyer’s agent or the resale agent, you know, to really kind of highlight, you know, the condo lifestyle. And that is not always easily done if the person’s never lived it before. And Shahn, you know, in preparation for this episode, you know, we talked about what stories did we have of buyers like this, and actually we have so many of these stories, but one in particular was there was a buyers coming from California and they had their real estate agent. They showed them 12 houses in one weekend in Las Vegas, they flew in for the weekend. And then the last thing the buyer saw was a condo at One Las Vegas and the buyer’s agent said to the clients and this was really astute on the buyer’s agents part. And it really says to me that the buyer’s agent really took time to understand you know, the buyers wants and needs and really pull it out the meta message and every time they looked at whatever they looked at, they were able to the buyer said I realized that everything that the buyer wanted was truly a condo, but what they had not yet experienced or what they didn’t know especially coming from California, were such that you could get a really large condo for the same price as a home because in the market that they came from a condo like what we have at One Las Vegas, like our penthouse that we’re selling for 1,299,000 would be selling for 5-6 million, right. And so it wasn’t within their conventional wisdom to understand to have a condo, but for and also, anytime they took them to look at a house that, you know, they were interested in, it was so far from, you know, activity from grocery or restaurants or bars. And so on a lark, the agent said, Please indulge me, and I just want to take you to this building, I think you’ll really love it. And they literally came, fell in love. And on that first visit, they wrote a contract, we actually also did have a story with them in the Review, or the Las Vegas Review Journal that our agents still use to this day. And the story is not a new story. It’s like three years old. And what the buyer said was, we didn’t know we rented a condo, we knew what kind of lifestyle we wanted, but we didn’t wrap it around the concept of a condo. And so that was really interesting. And so I think it’s, you know, 2021, if you are selling condos, it’s really going to be coming upon you to work with your buyers to understand what they really want, right, and then to really, fully demonstrate and present, what the condo lifestyle is really all about. Right. So I think that, you know, a really fascinating thing, and I’m really excited about 2021, I think 20, the end of 2021 will be the year of the condo, it may not be in cities like New York, or San Francisco, which have a lot of what I’ll call healing to do. San Francisco, maybe not as much as New York, but and perhaps even Los Angeles. But in other cities like Las Vegas, or Atlanta or Houston, I think it’s gonna be really exciting. But I also believe that in places like New York, once theater start opening back up and restaurants obviously, I mean, all the things that make New York so amazing, people are going to definitely come back to the city Mark, you shared that article with me, The Wall Street Journal yesterday, talking about how all these people who moved back out, are already eyeing places back in the city again, and what they’re considering are, you know, looking at smaller places that may be furnished. My dog agreed with that one again to she’s very agreeable with his concept, guys. So, you know, the article talks about how they’re gonna, they may want to still keep their place in the country and have a place in the city, because they’re gonna, they’re missing all of that. And also, they may have to go back to work part time. So we can’t forget, and we talked about this, in our last episode of the season, lessons learned is that, yes, while the condo still will be, it is going to come roaring back, and people are going to want that lifestyle, they are going to have a few more demands. And we went into depth in the last episode, so we don’t really have to go into depth, but we do want to touch on them is that they are going to want that home office space. They are they This is how people are living today. You know, this is you know, people are probably not going back to work full full time. Especially office workers, they may go back to the office, but they are still going to need that home office. We You know, one of the things we learned from 2020 is the rules of nine to five No longer are valid or valid. They have all been changed up. But to you know, our big point from 2020 you know was that people want that outdoor space, what I call personal outdoor space, whether it’s a balcony or you know, Shawn and Mark that’s probably one of the main reasons our two pen terraces sold or two of our pet terraces sold right upon the release and at the end of the year is because they do they have the cut that everything that people want. They have, you know, it’s a fantastic condo, two stories phase finishes like a penthouse, and giant outdoor private terrace, which opens up onto the pool deck. I mean, how can you live and get any better than that? Right.
Shahn Douglas 29:33
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Uri Vaknin 30:25
To reiterate, you know, and to kind of summarize everything you know, was the beginning of 2021 might be a little hard, I really do see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s really exciting. We’re feeling it in the sales centers, even with all the craziness that’s going on in the world, people are still nonetheless excited. Because we have been cooped out. But then, you know, the other thing we can’t ignore why we’re excited, and why the market is still going to go strong, is because the crazy low interest rates, I mean, and this is not hyperbole to say our interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been in recorded American history. So that coupled with the excitement for the end of the pandemic, and also the end of the pandemic is going to bring back jobs. And what I always say is jobs, jobs, jobs, if you want to get housing, jobs, jobs, jobs, and what was really crazy was the pandemic actually, where even with the loss of jobs, people bought houses. So can you imagine coming out of the pandemic, with now more people having jobs, again, the excitement around the end of the pandemic. And then on top of that, the this the continued historically low interest rates, which we’ve been told, you know, will continue for, not just the near future, but probably pretty long time. You all you know, perfect ingredients for the perfect recipe for success. So I’m really excited about 2021 I really think the last half or the last three quarters of this year will be the year of the condo. Because it people are really going to want to go from social distancing back to social connections. And that is what the condo lifestyle is all about. So, thank you again. We are excited to have our first episode of the condo artists the other side of real estate. We are looking forward to the future. We do feel a sense of hope even amidst all this craziness. And thank you so much for listening to another episode.