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February 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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It’s probably the smallest piece of California property anyone could ever own: 1 square feet of desert land near the town of Borrego Springs east of San Diego. And not just one piece of land, but thousands of them, side by side, covering 20 acres. All thanks to Susan Einemo of our San Diego Central office.

Who would want to claim such a miniscule quadrant of dirt and sand where the temperature climbs well above 100 degrees for a good stretch of the year? Skyy Vodka thought Canadian millennials might.

Everyone who bought a specially marked “Claim Your Cali” bottle of Skyy Vodka during a 2016 ad campaign the distillery ran in Canada. Though now bottled in Illinois, the company got its start in California.

“That’s right, Canada. If you’ve ever dreamt of claiming land in California, it’s time to seize that dream,” a 40-second introductory video on the “Claim Your Cali” site exclaimed.

Susan learned about the campaign targeting millennials from a friend who worked for the ad agency that developed it. She scouted San Diego County for some undeveloped land that would could be quickly subdivided. She found it for about $1,000 an acre bordering Anza-Borrego State Park.

“Each time someone bought a bottle of Skyy Vodka, they could go online to secure a square foot of air space above desert land they never saw and probably will never set foot on,” Susan said.

“The agency was fun to work with. As soon as we walked the land, they said, this is great. Let’s have a beer and celebrate. But there were lot of obstacles once we got underway. What should have been an easy transaction was not necessarily easy. From start to finish, it took five months.”

In the end, hundreds of plots were claimed, and the agency and Skyy were happy with the results. For Susan, the all-cash transaction turned out to be one of the most unusual of her 14-year career in real estate. No word, though, on how many landowners have vacationed on their desert property.

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