How Do You Sell a $10-million-plus San Francisco Penthouse? There’s an Art to It

How Do You Sell a $10-million-plus San Francisco Penthouse? There’s an Art to It

Photo: Courtesy Of Four Seasons Private Residences At 706 Mission, San Francisco

The sales team behind the Four Seasons Private Residences is trying to choreograph an experience that makes buyers feel like they are in a high-end architect's studio.

Photo: Photo By Jeff McLane

Some of the art on view at the pop up gallery inside a penthouse at 181 Fremont.

Photo: R. Brad Knipstein

The half-floor penthouse turned art gallery is unit 69B.

The way Richard Baumert sees it, the old way of selling high-end homes is just that — old.

“If you walk into a traditional sales center, there’s a physical model,” explained the principal at 706 Mission Company, which is developing the Four Seasons Private Residences, due to debut in 2020. “We don’t do that. We want to be able to tell you a story that’s choreographed in a very specific order. Our buyers don’t have all the time in the world, and we want to be respectful of that.”

The sales dance begins outside the Four Seasons, where the valet spirits away the potential buyers’ car. Someone from the sales team whisks them from the luxurious lobby to the fifth floor, where they can choose items like an ahi tuna and avocado tartare or a blueberry pie smoothie from a specially prepared menu.

Those choices will be waiting for them at the sixth-floor “atelier,” along with a 12-foot by 7-foot screen. At the press of a button, the shades come down and the video presentation begins. The half-hour production features an in-depth look into the Four Seasons lifestyle, and the inspiration for the building’s undulating stone façade, designed by NYC-based Handel Architects.

After the show is over, the lights come up and buyers are given an opportunity to look out the window for a direct view of the job site.

“We can connect that dot so people can physically see what’s going up in front of them,” Baumert explained. That's especially important when the building is set to be completed by the second quarter of next year: “We want them to know that we will hit that date.”

Next, guests are brought to a massive kitchen island that mimics the finishes of the completed units. Giant floor plans are rolled out across the island and two large television screens can show drone-gathered 180-degree views of every available unit.

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Most units have predetermined finishes and floor plans, but buyers of the 13 penthouse units have more options.

“Penthouses are a blank canvas for our customers to be able to create anything that they want,” Baumert said, adding that sales associates will bring out sketch paper and pencils for buyers and designers to work together on a final product. “It allows this collaborative experience in this space that feels like an architecture studio.”

A few blocks away at 181 Fremont, the sales team is also hoping an artistic touch will help sell its top-tier units. Beginning July 11, it will host a pop-up art space dubbed Gallery 181 in one of its half-floor penthouse units. The gallery is open to the public on an appointment-only basis and features 25 contemporary artworks from the Albertz Benda Gallery in New York City. It will run until September 9.

"We think of the 181 Fremont Residences as an ever-changing gallery, featuring works selected and exhibited in our Sky Lounge, model homes and lobby by art advisor Holly Baxter," said Sandra Eaton, Western Region Director for Compass Development. "It made sense for us to enhance that program and partner with a New York gallery for a summer pop-up in one of our half-floor penthouses. The spectacular views are matched only by the art on exhibit for the summer."

Just as 181 Fremont has a curator in residence, about a block away at The Avery, there is a stylist in residence, just one of many amenities to help sell the high-rise building to high-end clients. Last month, the building celebrated its new partnership with Mary Gonsalves Kinney of MGK Style with a party in one of the building's penthouse units, complete with a "shoppable closet" in the master bedroom, according to Jonathan Shum, Vice President of Related California.

The S.F.-based styling house works with Ayesha Curry and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, among other local luminaries. Now Avery owners, and even renters at Avery 450, can get that same star treatment. All residents get a complimentary consultation, which includes a "thoughtful closet review and insights into their wardrobes," said Shum.

Condo owners can go further, with a full closet edit, and in-home styling, including exclusive access to a curated collection of ready-to-wear and couture items. Furthermore, said Shum, penthouse owners will be invited to future fashion events that will feature "some of the most revered labels in the world."

"The Stylist in Residence program is the first of its kind in the country," said Shum. "It enables The Avery's condominium owners access to a celebrity stylist only steps from their home."

Artists, stylists, architects. It's all part of today's curated luxury sales experience, explained Baumert. "What we're creating is a masterpiece," he said. "We want to evoke that lifestyle and immerse buyers into what it will be like to live inside the Four Seasons world."

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate.

Source: SFGATE

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