The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also reported growth in its global network, which now encompasses 63 countries and territories worldwide. At year-end, the network totaled 835 offices, a gain of nearly 10%, and more than 18,800 sales associates, up 14%.
“2015 was a record year for domestic franchise sales for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “This year alone, we have also added 12 international, independently owned and operated affiliate brokerage locations to our global network, which will drive accessibility to the increasing level of international buyers in key luxury markets.”
Outside the United States, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand continued to expand into key markets in 2015. The entire Gulf Region is poised for significant growth as the brand’s affiliate brokerage in the region, Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty, acquired the rights to deliver real estate services in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The brand saw continued growth entering the countries of Chile, Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Nicaragua, while expanding its presence in Italy, Queensland, Australia and in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also added five independently owned and operated residential real estate firms and 73 new offices to its network across the United States. This past year witnessed continued growth by existing affiliate companies through mergers, acquisitions and recruiting. Notable transactions included the coming together of three companies in Vermont and New Hampshire that resulted in one of the largest operators in those states under the Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty banner, and the acquisition of South Bay Brokers in Manhattan Beach by Vista Sotheby’s International Realty. Several key open markets were also filled, namely: Baltimore, Md.; Block Island, R.I.; Charlottesville, Va. and Portland, Ore.
Last year The Wall Street Journal/REAL Trends “Top Thousand” ranked agents based on average sales price, recognizing the success of agents that specialize in the luxury real estate segment. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand had 75 of the top 250 (30%) individuals by average sales price. This achievement is reflective of the success of our efforts to further establish the brand as the voice of luxury.
In 2016 and for the ninth year in a row, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand won Franchise Business Review’s Best in Category for Real Estate Franchisee Satisfaction award. In addition to its real estate ranking, the brand also came in fourth in the overall top 50, and second among the Top 50 “Systems with 250 or more units,” which is a ranking of all franchise systems across all categories with more than 250 locations.
The Sotheby’s International Realty brand hosted several international networking events throughout the year exemplifying its truly global reach. An event in Rome brought together 27 affiliated companies from 19 countries within the European, Middle Eastern and African region while another event in Rancho Palos Verdes, California had representation from over 113 affiliated companies worldwide. “Our international footprint is the cornerstone of our global esteem and our events around the world serve as a platform for our network to work together while developing relationships to increase referrals and share best practices on the exclusive line of Sotheby’s International Realty products to better serve their clients’ needs and meet their business goals,” said White.
From a marketing perspective, the brand’s 2015 campaign delivered more than 1.2 billion impressions. At the core of the Sotheby’s International Realty 2015 strategy was its relationships with preeminent media powerhouses in both print and online arenas to showcase unique properties from the brand’s worldwide network including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Bloomberg, Financial Times and as the exclusive real estate partner for Dwell.com.
To mark the 40th year of Sotheby’s International Realty in the luxury residential real estate brokerage business, Philip White and Wendy Purvey, chief marketing officer, were joined by honorary guests of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on December 29, 2015. Additionally, the brand was featured with prime placement on the New York Stock Exchange video banner in Times Square. Running the entire month of December, the video was shown 15 times per day, reaching over 1.6 million daily visitors to Times Square and highlighted the brand’s lifestyle focus and drove viewers to sothebysrealty.com for more information.
Finally, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s website, sothebysrealty.com, was re-launched in 2015 to provide a fully immersive, responsive, video-based experience with unique content. With a focus on creating the best possible user experience, the new sothebysrealty.com continues the brand’s tradition of revolutionizing luxury real estate in the digital space. Last year the site saw the most traffic in its history with 14 million visits, a 30% increase year over year. The new Sotheby’s International Realty, website was recognized by the Web Marketing Association with the “2015 Outstanding Website WebAward” and by W3 with the “2015 W3 Gold Award.”
Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each brokerage firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.