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'Credible' marketing a must today.

In today's buyer-beware residential market, Louise Sunshine's firm is using its marketing creativity and know-how to promote the credibility of her clients' buildings and get apartments sold.

When the Sunshine Group was called in to Trump Palace, 79 of the units were under contract, but many of the purchasers were reluctant to close because, due to Trump's financial troubles, they feared the property was not stable. The sales in jeopardy had been made at the original prices, averaging somewhere around $900 per square foot.

"I knew it was imperative for these units to close," said Sunshine, the president and chief executive of the Sunshine Group, Ltd. who founded the residential development, sales, marketing, conversion and consulting firm after 12 years with the Trump Organization.

Sunshine appealed to Citibank to issue a letter of credit that would guarantee payment of the common charges and taxes on the unsold inventory of Trump Palace. Citibank agreed and the Sunshine Group proceeded to close in excess of three-quarters of the units, which, she said, "established the value of the building."

They then turned their energies toward selling the remaining units. Rather than highlighting the building or the lifestyle it offers, as is traditional, Sunshine said, they focused on the integrity of the building.

"We decided to take the approach of the credibility of the building," she said.

They launched the "Numbers not Rumors" campaign with ads carrying the banner headline "You've Heard the Rumors, Not the Facts." Other ads boasted "The Trump Factor" and used figures from an outside firm, the Corcoran Group, to show appreciation at Trump Buildings.

"We confronted it head on, which was a very gutsy thing to do," Sunshine said.

They did an extensive campaign to the brokerage community. "I must say brokers avoided Trump Plaza till then," she said.

With 60 closings scheduled in the next few weeks, the building, Sunshine reports, will be 53 percent sold and occupied by the end of May. Most of the sales so far have been to foreign buyers and mostly studios and one-bedrooms in the lower half of the building and in the different wings.

They are now targeting the American homebuyer who is looking to buy two-, three-, and four-bedroom units. The recent ads for the building promote it as "Primary Residence."

" ... their attorneys wanted to know and their accountants wanted to know that the building was more than 50 percent sold," she said.

At the Concorde, Peter Kalikow's 287-unit condominium at 220 East 65th Street, the Sunshine Group, Inc., has been able to sell enough units to let the conversion go forward even though the sponsor is in bankruptcy. According to Sunshine, they only had to make one offer to the tenants. Seventy-nine of the units are sold, she said, and three contracts are out for signature, Only three apartments are left, and they have a reserve of buyers, she said.

Sunshine said they recently ran ads to thank the brokerage community for their help with that building. While this custom is usually reserved for the commercial side, Sunshine said, the Concorde is an unusual project.

"That's really unheard of that a building with a bankrupt sponsor could be converted and sold," Sunshine said.

Sunshine said the company is consulting to a number of banks on workouts and bank-owned property, and establishing credibility is a major issue.

Appreciating Value

The Sunshine Group recently formed an affiliation with the Kennedy-Wilson, Inc. auction company. The company is contributing its marketing ability to the auction activities to create additional value.

The duo's first project was an auction at The Regatta condominium located in Battery Park City. The auction was a success, Sunshine reports, with every apartment selling at almost 100 percent of the projected probable price.

At the Grosvenor House, a 23-story condominium in the Flat Iron/Ladies Mile district, they auctioned off part of the units and retained others for conventional marketing with an appreciated price.

"We have been able to appreciate prices at Grosvenor House 20 percent post auction," Sunshine said.

Sunshine said they have also had recent success with the rental market. They converted Kalikow's unsold Chequers condominium, at 62 West 62nd Street, to rental. They are also marketing consultant to the Solow Building Company. At Solow Towers, on 66th Street, they have helped achieve 99 percent occupancy and three quarters of the Townhouses on 67th Street are occupied.

"In those properties we have maintained value and I think they're getting the highest rents in the city," Sunshine said.

The company is also marketing 2250 Broadway for an affiliate of CitiBank. While the building was opened in a difficult market, Sunshine said, the plan is effective, and they are closing on five to seven units a month without discounting.

"The building has already got a demonstrable record of maintaining its value," Sunshine said.

The Sunshine Group is also currently working with its limited partner Tishman Speyer in identifying properties for acquisition around the country. She said they are interested in a wide variety of property types -- multi-family, condominiums, bank-owned or FDIC properties.

Accurate Information

The Sunshine Group, according to its leader, is able to respond creatively and precisely because of its accurate market research, to which five staff members are dedicated. Sunshine said they have a "tremendous" data base since most of the big condominiums went up after she started her business in 1986. There were only a few that went before, she said, so there were not that many to catch up with.

This market research, however, she said, is available only to the company and its clients.

"It is used purely and solely for us to assess markets," she said. "It's used for us to make accurate decisions based on fact not fiction."

All Woman Firm

Founded in 1986, the Sunshine Group is involved in residential development, sales, marketing, and consulting to developers, banks, and investors around the country. Other clients include: Marubeni America Corporation, International Marketing, Company, Park Tower Realty, Heitman Properties Ltd., The Donald Zucker Company, and The Glick Organization, Arcorp Properties.

While at The Trump Organization, where she was executive vice president, Sunshine was instrumental in the development of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and was responsible for the acquisition of the Barbizon Hotel site, now known as Trump Parc. Sunshine served as director of Sales and Marketing for such Trump properties as Trump Tower, and 500 Park Avenue Tower. She also organized the marketing programs of Trump Plaza and the Palace Hotel Condominium and Club, in St. Moritz Switzerland. Sunshine is a limited partner in Trump Plaza.

Sunshine remarks, with pride, that her 84 staff persons are all women, and, she adds, "all of them are extremely dedicated."

She said she is happy to be giving women the opportunity to excel.

"They have a lot of talents that really are not developed," she said. "It's one of my greatest pleasures to be a mentor and help them develop."

Sunshine said that Donald Trump was her mentor, and that he is a "marketing genius."

"Donald Trump was the best teacher I've had and I was probably the best student," she said.

Before being "discovered' by Trump, Sunshine, the mother of three, said she had no experience in the commercial world. She had, however, done political work and did campaign financing for Governor Hugh Carey. Donald Trump, she said, gave her a chance to cultivate her abilities.

"I never worked a day in my life," she said. "I never dreamed I could do what I've done."

Sunshine said her advice for other women is to maintain their femininity.

"Always remain a woman," she said. "Don't try to compete with the men. Just be a woman. They all sit up and take notice."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Profile: Louise Sunshine
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 29, 1992
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