Earlier this week, I sent an announcement about this blog to about 1000 area Philadelphia Real Estate Professionals. Initially, when we began writing Sitegeist, my hope was that the local real estate community might — well — actually take an interest in us and began sending us news about local projects. For the most part, that hasn’t happened. Yesterday, though, in response to my mass mailing, a local broker did get back to me with an interesting initiative he’s started. This blog is, among other things, supposed to address itself with the intersection between brands and buildings. Namely, we started writing it to focus on the marketing of real estate and how marketers try (or don’t try) to set their projects apart from their competition. In his message to me yesterday, Philly-based broker/developer/designer, Steven Nebel, told me about his brokerage’s new branded subdivision, the “Boutique Collection.” You can check out their emerging site here. I really like the fact that someone out there is thinking about brands in the residential market in Philadelphia. I think many of the points Steven raises, in the quote that follows, are right on the mark: “The broader mission of the boutique collection is differentiation… My biggest issue with the brokerage community has always been its indifference. Most of the most successful people in the city rely upon social connections over understanding of the product and the market. In a changing cityscape, I think the time is right for a more informed brokerage. Of the three initial members of the Boutique Collection team… all have substantial design and development backgrounds. In pooling our efforts on the listing side, we aim to be a valuable resource for builders and developers in helping them to create turn-key projects of the highest quality. We work with developers from identifying ground, to suggesting civil engineering moves, to helping with supply chain management, and providing interior design services. For buyers, we aim to provide a critical approach to buying premier properties. I very much believe that the real estate in Philadelphia will begin stratifying rapidly and that most brokers are completely unaware of shifting values… Another exciting aspect of our group at the moment is our ‘boot camp’ program. We are currently working to identify great, but misunderstood projects currently languishing on the market and bringing them into the light, so to speak. Our first project is The Essex in Old City. In terms of the building itself, it’s one of the best projects out there. Yet the presentation, marketing, and final touches were so mishandled that it languished on the market. We are working to accentuate the building’s strengths, reposition its feel, and reintroduce it to the buying public in the coming month…” I appreciate the fact the Steven is creating an entirely new brand devoted to the creation and marketing of “luxury” real estate. Of course, the devil is always in the details with these sorts of things and — as the business matures — I’m very curious to see how, precisely, this brand of luxury is defined. At any rate, though, it’s refreshing to see the amount of thoughtfulness being offered here. We need more innovators like Steven in Philly.