Return to sales basics gets The Montage back on track |

Return to sales basics gets The Montage back on track

Anne Knowles

The first thing The Mark Company did when it took over sales and marketing at The Montage in 2011 was get back to basics.

“A lot of the fundamentals were not being done,” says Alan Mark, founder and president of the San Francisco-based real estate firm that specializes in languishing luxury properties such as the downtown Reno condominium project.

So the company beefed up The Montage’s internal sales team, courted outside agents and potential buyers with a series of events and revamped signage and promotional materials.

“Only 40 percent had been sold by outside brokers so we reached out to them with presentations and promotions and now we’re up to 70 percent sold through outside brokers,” says Mark.

The Mark Company also instituted a schedule of unit releases so the market wasn’t flooded with available condos and for the first time presented furnished models of the project’s three-story townhomes.

Now the building is 75 percent sold, including nine of its 14 penthouses, four of which were sold recently for between $445,000 and $715,000. In addition, the sales team moved its first townhomes.

“Four penthouses were sold in the last four months, all to locals living here,” says Samantha Reveley, sales manager. “And we sold three of the terrace townhomes in the last four months as well.”

The building has been averaging 10 sales a month this year, but Reveley says 14 sales were made in the first three weeks of July in anticipation of a new release of units.

The staggered release of units ensures that the best condos aren’t cherry-picked, says Mark, and always provides agents with a variety of floor plans to offer buyers. It also allows prices to rise with each release, providing the incentive that drove July sales.

“We do a release so have we have 20 to 30 units available,” says Reveley. “Once we sell those, we put out a new release and raise prices in the 5 to 20 percent range.”

The other big factor helping to drive sales, outside The Mark Company’s purview, has been the availability of financing from Wells Fargo once the building reached an occupancy threshold.

But the company is also attributing the uptick in sales to a lack of high-end condo inventory in downtown Reno.

“One of the factors is we have low inventory, about one and a half month of inventory, which is very low,” says Reveley. “The Montage is the only building downtown with new inventory to release.”

The Palladio, on the Truckee River at First and Sierra streets, sold out in 2009 and now has one unit on the market. Down First Street, at the corner of Arlington Avenue, the Arlington Towers has a penthouse on the market. List prices range from $279 per square foot for the Palladio unit to $212 per square foot for the Arlington Towers condo.

So is downtown Reno ready for more condo development?

“Our penthouses all sold for over $200 per square foot and we’d love to see last five go for $250 per square foot,” says Reveley. “That’s the number you need to prove something is ready to develop, maybe not something the size of the Montage but more like the size of the Palladio, around 90 units.”