The Wall Street Journal reports on a growing trend of over-the-top parties, gift bags, and celebrity attended events that are being hosted by real estate developers targeting real-estate brokers and potential buyers of high-end condominiums in New York, Florida, and Las Vegas.

The growing glut of expensive condos is pushing high-performing real-estate brokers and deep-pocketed potential buyers onto the “A” list. By supplying them with coveted party invitations and celebrity access, developers hope to reduce the backlog of high-priced luxury condominiums before rival developers can flood the slowing sales market with even more new properties. Developers are going all-out — with celebrities, showgirls, circus performers and fireworks displays worthy of the Fourth of July. Sales incentives ranging from alligator-leather-covered notepads in Manhattan to $10,000 diamond-encrusted cuff links in Fort Lauderdale are dangled before guests.

Developers say the parties are a bargain considering the prices of the condos, and they generate far better returns than dropping the prices of units does. For a May 11 Manhattan bash near Union Square, developer Gary Barnett spent about $30,000 to promote 39 lofts that start at $2.2 million apiece. In March, he spent $500,000 on a concert attended by 800 brokers and featuring the singer Seal. Several weeks later, he sponsored the “Thank You for Smoking” movie premiere and dinner for 500. Two brokers received a year’s use of a chauffeur-driven $108,000 Maserati Quattroporte. Others got shopping trips to Paris for selling the most condominiums in the 550-unit Orion project just west of Times Square.

We’re not expecting to see any celebrities at the One Rincon Hill VIP event next week, but it really ought to be an interesting summer (and 2007) in San Francisco. And just for the record, we’ll take lower prices over the baubles and bonuses every time.
Hoping the Sizzle Will Sell The Steak in Condo Slowdown [RealEstateJournal]
Behind The Velvet Ropes [SocketSite]

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