Opinion: Agents are turning into party planners to entice buyers and investors to buy new homes in London

Ben Babington
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Agents are increasingly turning into party planners (Source: Getty)

Last year marked a shift in the central London market. The buyers are still out there – only now they have a broader choice of new homes to buy.

This poses a challenge for developers: how do you target a particular group of buyers with precision and make them remember your homes above all the others?

All developments these days have a stylish show home and a technology-stuffed marketing suite. Now agents are increasingly being asked to host VIP parties on behalf of developers at the properties themselves, many of them coinciding with popular events in the British social calendar. And it works – these glamorous events give investors and owner-occupiers a reason to attend a development that day, rather than waiting or looking at alternative properties.

We recently held a party on the night of the biggest, closest and brightest “supermoon” since 1948. It was a great opportunity to invite potential buyers to the 26th floor of the Sky Lounge at One The Elephant on behalf of its developer Lendlease. They could walk around the new homes, hear about the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle area and meet people who had already bought at Elephant Park nearby – all while gazing out across the London skyline, champagne in hand, bathed in super-moonlight.

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To coincide with the Lord Mayor’s Show, developer Seastar held a party in the penthouse of 22 Buckingham Gate, exclusively for investors, where they could watch the fireworks light up the sky framed by Buckingham Palace.

The most innovative events are undoubtedly those targeted at growing markets. Following the devaluation of the pound, London is seeing a surge in interest from Chinese buyers.

Juwai.com, a Chinese property portal, received a record number of enquiries from buyers interested in purchasing UK properties this September. Earlier this year CBRE also calculated that Chinese buyers make up five per cent of owners of residential property in London’s West End.

To capitalise on the pickup in interest from the Far East, we are hosting another soiree with Lendlease to showcase their West Grove development, this time throwing a Chinese New Year party on 30 January. The high-flying party will also be held at Sky Lounge because the Chinese believe that if you “climb high and gaze far” on New Year's Day, you’ll have good luck.

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Sparkling soirees don’t impress everyone, however – it’s about knowing your audience. Agents are thinking strategically before breaking out the bubbly, and that’s why we held a cooking demonstration as part of Great British Game Week last November to sell homes in Berkshire. For these buyers, it was less about glamour and more getting a taste of the lifestyle in this affluent community, so the developer Cleanslate invited Graham White, head chef at the locally-renowned Eastbury Plough restaurant, to put on a show.

Buyer demand may have cooled in some areas, but these events are our chance to excite buyers and investors and remind them that macro-economic and political events have not relegated Britain’s position as a leading global economic hub.

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