How we sold it: Balfour Place

It’s no mean feat to sellout a luxury apartment development in just three days. But that’s exactly what happened when Balfour Place hit the market. Developer Third.i said the secret behind the success was a high impact print advertising campaign that zeroed in on its target market and use high-end marketing assets such as gloss wraps on some of Australia’s most revered publications.

When the luxury mixed-use development Balfour Place hit the market in the Sydney suburb of Lindfield earlier this year, it took just 72 hours to sell 58 of the 59 apartments.

Developer Third.i had launched its “teaser campaign” two weeks earlier, with significant print advertising through News Corp Australia’s publications North Shore Times and The Australian.

Third.i Head of Sales Callum Billinghurst says they worked with media and technology practice The Today Business, which created and executed the strategy.

The result was phenomenal, with more than 1000 leads ready to go when Balfour Place officially launched.

“We had an absolute tonne of people interested in the project,” Callum says.

“In the space of 24 hours, we had sold 43 apartments, and then after a further 24 hours, we were at 50, and then we got up to 58 within a further 24 hours.

“On top of that, we also had 25 deposits where people paid a $10,000 holding deposit to be on a waiting list if someone didn’t proceed to unconditional exchange in the two-week cooling off.”

The development

Located in the highly-sought upper North Shore suburb of Lindfield, construction on the $180 million Balfour Place is due to start in July 2022, with completion 20 months later.

Features include the expansion of an existing Coles supermarket, more than 230 car spaces and the 59 apartments spread across two towers.

The apartments are a mixture of one, two, three and four bedrooms, all set around a private rooftop courtyard.

“It’s a premium, high-end, luxury development,” Callum says.

“There is Italian marble in all of the bathrooms and kitchens, the properties all have smart home automation, motorised blinds and top-of-the-line Miele appliances.”

The Balfour Place rooftop garden.

Callum says the target audience was largely downsizing owner-occupiers, but some premium investors and younger buyers also snapped up the apartments.

“We recognised there were a number of clients downsizing in the local Lindfield and Upper North Shore market,” he says.

“There’s a real thirst for, almost like a dehydrated market, for brand new, premium developments close to amenities and with views.

“About 95 per cent of our apartments offered views.”

The print campaign

Third.i opted to run a print-only advertising campaign with News Corp Australia in The Australian and North Shore Times.

Callum says it’s important for developers to ensure every cent spent on marketing is spent in the right place, and they decided to go “heavy on print”.

That print campaign not only involved traditional double-page and full-page ads in the real estate section but half and full-page wraps, including 5000 gloss wraps on The Australian and a half-page cover wrap on the North Shore Times.

The 5000 gloss-wrapped editions of The Australian on March 24 were distributed only in NSW, focusing on Sydney’s North Shore and the CBD.

“The buyers we were targeting weren’t shopping through rinky-dink investment websites,” Callum says.

“They’re talking with each other at the golf club or sitting in their conservatoriums on a Sunday morning reading The Australian with a coffee.

“This demographic that downsizes relates well to print media.”

Callum says the North Shore Times campaign also helped target local, high-end investors.

“We were looking for blue-chip investors who understand the local market and live within that market,” he says.

“That’s why we thought print would be our golden goose.”

News Corp Australia National Real Estate Editor Evie White says a major benefit of print advertising is that it is still one of the most trusted mediums.

“The North Shore Times is a brand that has a deep connection with its community, and the right creative presented to an audience with a brand they trust creates better recall among consumers,” she says.

“These types of publications capture audiences in a mindset where their attention is full, enabling advertisers to create stronger connections that trigger action.

Evie says the combination of the double-page, single-page and wrap advertising sent a strong message to potential buyers that Balfour Place was a development they needed to know about.

“When you have something important to sell or to say to consumers using a high-impact form of print advertising, such as the wrap, you’re telling people this is a big deal. It has to be if it’s important enough to be on the front page.”

3. Editorial coverage

The Balfour Place development also attracted editorial coverage both in print and online.

Evie says News Corp Australia reported news around Balfour Place announcing the development and that sales were starting before the ad campaign ran.

“They had a huge weekend with record sales,” she says.

“That then generated a story about $100 million of sales in three days.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that if you get the content balance right, whether that’s paid, owned or earned, and let editorial do their thing, then use your ad campaign effectively, you will get the best results.”

Evie explains that real estate editorial coverage generates a high level of reader engagement, on par with the network’s true crime coverage.

She says there are multiple elements that go into making up a good real estate story, including reliable data or market insights, a quirky angle or property, quality images, luxury properties and good human interest stories.

“Sometimes it’s something beneath the surface that will make it a great story,” Evie says.

Balfour Place also appeared in Mansion in The Australian in a story on Luxury apartment developers tap into need for larger spaces.

Mansion editor Lisa Allen says Balfour Place well and truly checked the must-have boxes needed to appear in the high-end publication, which targets aspirational buyers at the upper end of the market.

“It helps if they’ve got really good assets, fantastic artist impression, can give us excellent quotes, and if the project has a well-known architect,” she says.

“It also helps if they can name some of the people that have bought (into the development) and if we can get interviews with people that have purchased.

“If we can also get prices, that makes it stronger. And if the story is stronger, you get a better run, you get more hits on it, and more people read it.”

4. The buyers

Callum says the print campaign worked perfectly, with most buyers coming from the Lower North Shore.

“They came from Castlecrag, Longueville, Chatswood and Roseville,” he says.

“We have quite a few clients purchasing as owner-occupiers that were originally from Lindfield, and now they’re returning.

“We have a buyer base that’s about 70 per cent owner-occupiers. I’d say 100 per cent of our three and four-bedroom properties are owner-occupiers and our one and two-bedroom apartments are a healthy mix of investor and owner-occupier.

“One of the things we’re really excited about is we have quite a few buyers where entire families have purchased into the development.”

Evie says the Balfour Place campaign delivered outstanding results that emphasised the ability of sound marketing strategy to reach the right audience, with traditional media having a key role to play in generating impact and driving engagement.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.

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