It’s been pointed out to me that recent articles have been more optimistic of late, and I am very self-aware of that fact because in the end I want to be optimistic and root for success. I think though, of what happened to buyers in Orlando, where the Orlando media and developer (another developer, not MCL) hyped the Lake Eola project (again, can’t say it enough, NO CONNECTION with MCL) all the way to 164 units being sold at auction. I told myself this can’t happen to us, and this is what sparked the VueBuyer blog.
I do not want to fall into the same trap, and mislead, oversell, or in any way present information that doesn’t help everyone make their own decisions based on the best information that is available. So I am going to forewarn all readers now that for me, the party is now over, my optimism is going to be difficult to sustain, and unless I am provided information other than what I am either currently seeing for myself or receiving behind the scenes it is going to be a tough road ahead. I have an open mind, and am willing to share the whole spectrum of opinions on the VUE to give a balanced and complete perspective so that buyers can make the most informed decision possible. So please, someone, share some good news with me!
A telling example of what dents my optimism can be found in something as simple as the VueCharlotte home page. Our Vue Buyers’ blog received a record number of hits on Thursday and Friday (I mean, beyond my wildest expectations), and that is because of all the hoopla and press about the VUE Unveiling. Imagine how many people must have searched for the VUE Charlotte website in the last 24-48 hours. And what did they see? They saw a web site whose headline is SKY HOMES DELIVERY SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 2010. When they clicked on Info Center and then Construction Update link, the most current post was from 3/16/10. Click on the “Summer 2010” newsletter link and the September letter wasn’t posted yet (it is still the June letter). These are big misses in my opinion and it has me sensing either possible financial weakness, an underestimation of the importance of the internet, or fill in your reason here. While we didn’t see any evidence Thursday night (the party was awesome) the fact that this web site is so dated is not a projection of financial or marketing strength. If I am reading too much into this, I am sorry. You all must know by now I am subject to mood swings! But please, the site being dated like this is poor marketing and poor execution. This needs to be shored up asap.
The lack of online marketing savvy then moves to their Facebook page (granted a far less important page than their main web site), where their last posting was July 21, and photos posted are from back in May. Did they cut back on their online marketing budget? I don’t know, but again, this is worrisome to me.
Speaking of Facebook, this seems to be another good point to urge all Facebook members to join the HomeBuyer’s group, started by Rob Cummings as a service to all pre-sales buyers and unit owners in the VUE. He has elaborated on his closing process in the discussion section so I urge you all to share on that thread as your situation unfolds. I think this group is going to be a great and lasting asset to all Vue owners. The Buyer’s blog will eventually run its course, but the Facebook page has a long future ahead.
I had to laugh at one of the comments to the Observer article on the VUE when it mentioned the VUE’s first owner. It read like this: The dude that closed today will have the whole place to himself. That first HOA bill will be a b**ch though.” Rob, don’t worry, many of our readers I am sure will be joining you soon and will help you pay the bill! [as you all know, the Developer owes the HOA on unsold units, so Rob will be fine]
In terms of the traditional press, I am pleased to see the Observer and WCNC giving tough but fair press coverage on the VUE. Buyers are struggling. The economy has changed. And MCL has been very candid in this regard and I appreciate that. Recognizing that we are in pain is a good first step in working in partnership to sort this all out. And I know that on the flip side, we recognize MCL’s situation as well. They built a 400 unit structure that needs to be sold out, and they have extremely tough financial conditions in which to try and do it. The Amenity Deck is to me a huge marketing weapon in which to drive sales. I am sure the sales team will be featuring it front and center. The Web Site team, if one exists, needs to get actual photos up there instead of renderings and do their part.
I was fortunate enough to get high into the Trademark building and look out a window facing the VUE early Friday evening. Below was the stunning Vue amenity deck and pool, and there were young children jumping in and out of it. It was quite a sight. Whether you and I will ever be in that pool remains to be seen. If the Vue Charlotte website remains frozen in March, June, and August 2010, we may never get there.
Thanks to those who have shared feedback either in a comment or written to Vuebuyer10@yahoo.com. Please keep sharing what you know and feel. We have lots of interesting material to come next week. Have a good weekend!