Archive for the ‘Townhouse’ Category

The torture of condo living

February 13, 2009

The Block

Those hoping for their regular dose of condo negativism may be disappointed by this post.  I’m gonna say something nice about a real estate marketing campaign.  No, I haven’t been paid off.  (If anyone wants to buy my goodwill, email me and I’ll give instructions on where to send the money.)

The Block is a townhouse project near Kingsway and East 12th.  As sales campaigns go, theirs at least tries to be rooted in strategy.  This is unusual in Vancouver condo marketing.  For many years, the captains of consciousness couldn’t escape coffee cups and spelling mistakes. The Block’s print ad, with a professional couple cramped over pasta dinner, is not only cute and coffee cup-free, it also speaks to a target audience: condo owners looking to upgrade.

As a bonus, the written copy is kept to a minimum.  No “feel the aura of the urban virtuosity” nonsense here.  The website copy isn’t as modest, sometimes drifting into high stink (i.e. “we’re offering awesome townhomes in the high $500,000s, it’s a huge value story already”) but some of it’s tongue in cheek.  One line describes those who miss out risk “a life tortured with regret.”  Torture in a condo ad? I like it.

With the current down market, I don’t expect these units to sell in the short term.  Because The Block has an RSS feed, a Twitter account and a Flickr page, the marketer has set themselves up to be a regular content creator.  Are they up to the test of keeping things fresh?  Nothing says suck like a blog with no updates.  Early evidence is promising — well, compared to other condo websites — given that they have four posts in four days.  I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Buy townhouse, maybe win car

December 1, 2008

Lotus Townhomes Surrey

Two points to understand about Vancouver real estate and the global financial crisis: 1.) Nobody’s buying real estate, and; 2.) nobody’s buying cars. Not that this stops the marketing mavens from putting the two together.

Today’s pitch, for the Lotus Townhomes in Surrey, is buy a townhouse and win a car. Well, this isn’t exactly the pitch because if you buy a townhouse you don’t get a car for sure — what you get is a *chance* to win a car. How this is an incentive to buy $330,000+ Surrey townhouse is beyond me.

Also beyond me is the odd combo of the car prize and the “condo couple” drinking wine. And what’s with the arrow pointing out the car? Was there confusion in the design studio as to what part of the image depicted the car?

This ad ran in the Westcoast Homes and Design Magazine published November 19. I haven’t seen it anywhere since. Maybe the developer realized the promo is a waste and killed it. As of today, there’s no mention of the “deal” on the Lotus website. Hmmm.

Meet your creepy neighbour at Predator Ridge

June 23, 2008

Predator Ridge

On the spectrum of good to bad publicity, with good being the iPhone launch and bad being the smell of Granville Street on a Saturday morning, how would you rate this ad for the homes at Predator Ridge?

I almost don’t have an opinion. The awfulness of this ad is so overwhelming, it took me twenty minutes before I regained consciousness.

Here we have a family development named Predator Ridge promoted with the image of a creepy, middle-aged man who looks like he’s straight out of an episode of Law and Order: SVU. What do you think he’s thinking about as sits and smirks all alone on his faux-wood porch? It’s not the “stunning amenities” I assure you.

I need a bath. This is disturbing.

Argyle’s hangover

May 26, 2008


This ad for the Argyle townhomes in Abbotsford is one of the worst condo ads in a long time. Could this couple be any more unconvincing? “Take the damn picture!” is all I get from their tired, hungover faces. She looks like she’s ten seconds from passing out and the angle of his left arm inadvertently hints at a horrific accident. Argyle Andy: He tried to beat the train…and lost.

Let this be a lesson for you kids out there: Don’t get drunk and play near the tracks or you might find yourself in a condo ad.

What a wreck.

Surrey goes Boston

February 19, 2008

The Brownstones at Morgan Heights

When I think of Surrey, I think, “You know, this place could use a little more Boston.” For a long time, I thought my dreams would never be realized, save for that Boston Pizza near the corner of Scott Road and Nordel Way. Well, thank goodness for Adera, the “pure know how” developer. Because of their greatness, a whole ‘hood of “Boston style urban homes” are coming to Surrey. They’re calling them The Brownstones at Morgan Heights.

For maximum effect, try reading the following copy with a Massachusetts accent (any trouble, just think Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting):

Imagine living in the sunniest part of the Lower Mainland, everything you need within walking distance of your home in a true urban village. Picture your new 3-bedroom home at The Brownstones: classic beauty, contemporary style customized to your preference, and Built Green using sustainable living technology.

I’m fascinated that the developer willingly compares Surrey to Boston. Lots of crime movies are set in Boston. The Departed. Mystic River. Boondock Saints.

Interesting. That’s all I’m saying.

Going coastal

January 5, 2008

Aqua at Coastal Village

Well, let’s just say I’ve been writing for a lot longer than I thought I would. By now, I figured all would’ve gone to hell and I’d be set to retire. With no hype to deflate, it was gonna be time to shut ‘er down. But here we are in 2008 and the sky has shown no limit. The market is foaming at the mouth. Prices are as high as ever. The best I can do is shake my head, browse some ads, and spew literary venom at the merchants of shoebox homes.

Focus Real Estate Marketing brings us today’s fodder — a Squamish townhouse and condo project called Aqua at Coastal Village — and it’s a beauty. There’s no picture of the building in the ad, just two white-shirted common laws lounging barefoot on a dock. I can’t blame them. Dropping $362,000 for Squamish’s “best value” doesn’t leave much budget for shoes. (Though apparently there’s money for Lululemon; click the amenities link on the project website for a view of a lifestyle-living fashionista locked in the downward dog.)

I want my market crash. Now.

Point of no return

August 28, 2007

Red Point Squamish

So let me get this straight. Hiking equals trees. Après hiking equals granny smith apples in a dish. Red Point is a condo and townhouse development in Squamish. As great as the forest is, the fruit bowl in the kitchen is even better.


If this is the kind of logic game that excites you, then I’d encourage you to register to learn more about the “adventure homes” at Red Point.

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada is the “exclusive offerer” of Red Point. Sotheby’s, we are told by their copy, is a name “synonymous with quality.” I like to think of them as the antonym of modesty.

The autioneer’s pompousness clearly shows in the marketing of the development. The name Red Point is a metaphor for rock-climbing success. “From hiking to biking, from kite surfing to beach walking, Red Point isn’t just a place to call home. It’s your home base for an exceptional life.”

I’d like to hear someone spew that spin in conversation and not get themselves laughed out of the room. Imagine your buddy Joe telling Mary, “It’s not so much a townhouse as it is a home base. For all my adventure needs. It’s exceptional, really.”

In mentioning Joe and Mary, I owe a debt to the Red Point Living Blog where the characters were first introduced. In typical corporate-blog fashion, this blog is dead on arrival. Launched August 10, the thing boasts two posts — the first of which consists of “content” that begs readers to “visit the blog often.”

For those who kept checking the blog for the next ten days, nothing would be there to warrant the visits. However, on the eleventh day, Red Point’s director of sales comes out of hiding to pony up deep thoughts about how “it’s better to buy real estate and wait than to wait and buy real estate.”

Anyone looking for a name synonymous with hype?

Highland evolution

July 27, 2007

Highland Park at Morgan Heights

I often think of advertising as a kind of cultural vampire sucking away at the body of knowledge and meaning. I look at this ad for Highland Park at Morgan Heights and I’m left dizzy trying to make sense of what it means. Consider:

Highland Park at Morgan Heights. A place to flourish. Life is about to evolve around you.

West Coast architecture in a park-like setting inspires newfound freedom. Artfully designed, these spacious 2 and 3 bedroom townhomes feature clean lines to encourage uncomplicated living. Beyond your front door, a growing community beckons.

Such a flurry of flowery words only fuels my lack of understanding.

What life is to evolve around me? What is a park-like setting? Is a park-like setting similar to a wood-like floor? How does a park-like setting inspire newfound freedom? What is newfound freedom?

How is the property artfully designed? How do clean lines encourage uncomplicated living? What is uncomplicated living? Is my current living complicated?

How does a growing community beckon?

If there’s a front door, does that mean there’s a back door?

One last question. Where is Morgan Heights? Considering you haven’t mentioned it, I’ll take a guess. It is… Surrey?!?

Funny how silence can speak volumes.

Kerry quite contrary

July 2, 2007

The Kerry | Kerrisdale

Can you believe this ad for The Kerry in Kerrisdale? I don’t even know where to begin describing this embarrassment. It’s as if the condo marketers are begging to be made fun of. Honestly, this looks like a rejected publicity still from an Enrique Iglesias music video.

But maybe that’s the point. You see, Enrique Iglesias is the son of the highly successful singer Julio Iglesias. If it weren’t for Daddy J, Enrique probably wouldn’t have made it. I suspect the same applies to any thirty-something buyer of a Kerry home.

Unless they’re backed by a mammoth down-payment from a parent, Vancouver’s top-tier upper-income thirty-somethings probably can’t even think of a property like this. The pricing here isn’t simply on the high end for young professionals, it’s completely and absolutely out of their scope. (Even Vancouver’s high earners will tell you that the salaries in this market are garbage.)

Time for a song. Hit it Julio:

I can be your hero baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breathe away

Breathe? Oh dear.

Foxy by the river

June 15, 2007

Foxridge Homes - Pitt Meadows

A few times a week I do scans of the local media, looking for ads worthy of analysis on this site. About a month ago, maybe more, I came across this oddity for Foxridge Homes in Pitt Meadows. Astonishingly, the developer offers no website for us to learn more — not that much learning is possible by way of a condo website.

Regular readers of condohype know how much fun I have with quotation marks. I’d say half my posts try to sneak a laugh through clever use of the inverted commas. In this ad, the designer — a term I am using very loosely — has taken the peculiar step of putting quotes around the “now selling” declaration. This automatically raises a flag about the claim. Perhaps a way of calling the whole notion of “pre-sale” into question?

The inclusion of the price in dollars and cents is a welcome touch. As a fan of full disclosure, I support this. Who knows, maybe other realtors are secretly adding 99 cents on top of the advertised prices? This demands an investigation. Somebody send a note to Chipman.

I’m at a loss for what is meant by the development being “By The River.” What’s with the capitalization? A stolen line from M. Night Shymalan’s script for The Village? “We’ll be safe, we have the magic rocks. They’ll protect us from Those We Do Not Speak Of.”

That’s a movie, by the way, about a master plan community. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. I’m sure the developer wouldn’t mind the box office take. (Never mind the regret felt by most moviegoers as they sulked out of theatre realizing the bad choice they made in seeing that train-wreck of a film.)

Don’t Think I’ll Be “Buying.”