Sotheby’s International Realty 2020 Brand Stats

Sotheby’s International Realty Sees 32% Sales Growth, Achieving $150 Billion In Global Sales Volume In 2020

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Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce that its affiliated brokers and independent sales professionals achieved a record US$150 billion in 2020 global sales volume, a nearly 32% increase in sales growth year over year, as the definition of home changed for consumers around the world. Due to a longstanding commitment to innovation, Sotheby’s International Realty® agents were able to seamlessly help clients navigate the changing market dynamics brought on by the global pandemic with existing technology offerings which propelled business momentum.

Agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty quickly pivoted to address the impact of the global pandemic,” said Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Thanks to innovations we pioneered nearly a decade ago, our affiliated companies and agents made the impossible possible. Their adaptability to serve clients safely further extended our position as a leader in luxury real estate.”

Long-Standing Commitment to Virtual Technology Paved Way for Success

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Sotheby’s International Realty continued to lead the industry and was well-positioned to meet the needs of consumers as the buying and selling process became increasingly virtual. Sotheby’s International Realty agents accelerated the use of the brand’s existing video, virtual reality, and live-streaming technology to produce new forms of content that engaged buyers and set a new standard for marketing luxury properties. Currently, buyers can safely tour more than 6,000 properties via virtual reality or video on sothebysrealty.com. Property videos also proved engaging on social media where the brand’s YouTube channel delivered 43 million views, or the equivalent of more than one million hours watched.

As a leader in the luxury real estate industry, Sotheby’s International Realty is able to anticipate trends,” said Chief Marketing Officer, Bradley Nelson. “Our priority remains to present listings in the best possible manner and to provide a superb end-user experience however buyers prefer to search for their new home. Virtual technology has been at the forefront of our marketing strategy for several years and comes as naturally to us as our commitment to high quality service.”

The brand also unveiled a new website, sothebysrealty.com, available in 14 languages and nearly 60 currency conversions, to continue serving its growing international clientele and fuel referrals worldwide. The website achieved a notable amount of traffic for the brand with 37 million visits in 2020. Property videos on the site produced by Sotheby’s International Realty agents were especially popular and played nearly 13 million times in 2020, totaling more than 90,000 hours watched.

A Year of Strategic Growth and Record Achievements

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Despite travel restrictions, Sotheby’s International Realty remained committed to expanding its global footprint and achieving strategic growth. In 2020, the brand opened more than 50 new offices across the world, bringing the brand’s total presence to nearly 1,000 offices in 75 countries and territories with approximately 24,000 independent sales associates worldwide.

The brand’s existing affiliated companies around the world continued to grow in 2020. Sotheby’s International Realty increased its total domestic presence to 45 states around the country. Sotheby’s International Realty facilitated affiliate expansions through  12 domestic M&A transactions, including California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, and Washington.

The brand also continued to expand internationally in key markets and opened offices in seven new territories. In Europe, the brand expanded to Ukraine, Romania, Montenegro, and in Germany. In the Asia-Pacific region, the brand opened its first office in South Korea and expanded in the Caribbean and Latin American region with two new offices in Paraguay and Antigua & Barbuda.

Our international footprint is one of our greatest competitive advantages,” said Tammy Fahmi, vice president, global operations and international servicing. “Our brand’s locations are in the most desirable places around the globe, so our clients know they can rely on our local market expertise wherever they are looking to buy or sell.”

As affluent individuals looked to acquire secondary homes in markets around the world, Sotheby’s International Realty agents acted as true global real estate advisors and referral volume surged by 42% to US$2.9 billion in closed sales volume.

Our 2020 results prove what is possible when you focus on quality above all else. We remain proud to be the real estate brand of choice for so many luxury real estate experts and affluent clients. We will continue to work tirelessly to prove their trust has been well placed,” concluded White.

2020 Brand Stats Video

New York Times Sponsorship: The High End

The Sotheby’s International Realty® brand is the official launch sponsor of The High End, the new destination for luxury real estate from the New York Times.

Enjoy reading the first post here:  From Saints to Hot Springs – The Luxury of Mountainside Living.

New owners plan McGregor Links as year-round destination

The new owners of McGregor Links Country Club are bringing in a brewing company, installing an indoor golf simulator and renovating some of the golf course to turn the Wilton, New York country club into a year-round destination.

“We’re really pushing for the year-round. We’re really pushing to bring the country club back to families,” said Blake Crocitto, one of the new owners.

Crocitto and his business partner, William Ahl, owner of Ontario Scrap Metal in Albany, will bring in Druthers Brewing Company to run the restaurant, with cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing as recreation options.

Druthers Brewing Company, a craft brewery and restaurant based in Saratoga, will move into McGregors by April. The brewery, which is also expanding into a new Albany location, will use the space as test-kitchen to develop new beers and to brew small batches for club members. Crocitto and Ahl will add air conditioning and heating to the restaurant and expand the bar area.

McGregor will remain a semi-private club. The restaurant will be open year-round to the public.

McGregor Links is the fifth most difficult golf course in the Albany area, according to the Albany Business Review‘s Book of Lists. The country club features an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool and clubhouse.

The club has more than 440 members. Crocitto believes he can add about 100 members over the course of 2015.

“It’s a lofty goal,” he said. “We think we can get here, even possibly by the end of this season.”

Part of the draw, he said, will be an indoor golf simulator that will bring in members during the winter months to work on their game or test new equipment. The simulator will be installed in late 2015, he said.

Members can expect to see course improvements during the summer, Crocitto said. Those improvements will including patching up the fairways and greens and removing some trees for more sunlight.

“It’s really an exciting time for McGregors,” he said. “My business partner and I feel this is the best course in the area when it comes to layout, so we won’t do too much to the layout. We’ll just make it better.”

Two manufacturers awarded tax breaks for Saratoga Springs expansions

The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency will award nearly $1.5 million in tax breaks to two manufacturing companies.

The tax breaks offset the cost for both PeroxyChem LLC and Greenfield Manufacturing Inc. to build manufacturing plants at the Grande Industrial Park in Saratoga Springs, New York. The industrial development agency approved tax incentive packages for the two companies Tuesday.

PeroxyChem, a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer, plans to build a 7,140-square-foot peroxide purification plant in Saratoga Springs, New York. PeroxyChem, which employs 600 globally, will receive nearly $894,000 in tax breaks over a period of eight years.

The move brings jobs and production from the company’s plant in Texas to New York. The company estimates the project will cost $23.1 million. More on that here:

Greenfield Manufacturing will receive $525,000 in tax incentives.

The specialty chemicals manufacturing company plans to construct a 33,000-square-foot factory in the Grande Industrial Park, where it leases a smaller factory. It will own the new building. More on that here:

New housing on the rebound in Wilton

WILTON>> New home starts in town increased for a second straight year in 2013 and were at their highest level since 2007, a major indicator of increased consumer confidence in the local economy.

The town issued 45 residential building permits last year compared to 34 in 2012 and 29 in 2011, the lowest figure in recent history.

The number is a far cry from the 202 permits issued in 2002 but still reflects a turnaround that is slowly gaining steam.

“We’re very encouraged,” said Charles Wait, Adirondack Trust Co. president, chairman and chief executive officer. “All of our loan activity increased substantially during the past year, including personal loans, mainly for new car purchases. Housing and car loans are a very good sign for the economy and this area.”

Loan applications are up for both new construction and existing homes, not just in Wilton, but Saratoga Springs and Milton, he said.

Some people are encouraged by the gradually improving economy. Others who put off purchases during the recession are now making needed expenditures. However, there’s also a third group, Wait said.

“Some of it is money on the sidelines coming in; people who had money, but were being cautious with it,” he said.

The 45 residential permits issued last year in Wilton were the most since the 74 issued in 2007. An average 33 permits were issued annually for the five-year period of 2008 through 2012.

Developer Bill Morris has begun clearing property for his 49-lot Craw Farm subdivision on Traver Road, just south of Wilton Town Hall.

“We’re cutting a road now and will start building a model home this spring,” Morris said. “We haven’t tried the market, but there’s definitely a lot of interest. That’s why we’re putting in infrastructure now.”

Meanwhile, commercial construction crept upward, too, last year in Wilton as 43 permits were issued, the highest figure since 2006 when 45 were approved. However, actual non-residential new construction totaled 32,625 square feet, the least since 2005 when a peak 214,357 square feet was built.

The town Planning Department’s 2013 Development Report says there are 629 approved, but still undeveloped residential building lots in Wilton, meaning the town is poised for considerable growth, depending on the area demand for new housing.

Some approved subdivisions have dozens of undeveloped lots each. They are: Park Place at Wilton (114 lots), Mill at Smith Bridge (60 lots), Craw Farm (49 lots), Burnham Hollow (38 lots) and Olson Farm (31 lots). Ridgeview Estates and Rolling Greens Executive Estates have 28 undeveloped lots each.

Also, Witt Construction owner John Witt has a proposed subdivision called Palmertown Ridge on 900 acres near the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility property. Homes would be priced from $500,000 to more than $1 million.

“I’d like to see the high-end market come back a little before we start that,” Witt said.

However, he’s busy elsewhere.

In Saratoga Springs, an “in-fill” project is currently in the design phase. Plans call for seven single-family condominium units on one lot, on Jumel Place.

Witt is also drawing up plans for 108 apartments and more than 50 townhomes at Northway exit 15, near the Marriott Hotel, a project he hopes to start work on this summer.

“Things have definitely picked up,” Witt said. “It’s not crazy busy, but consistently steady. Everybody is still very conscious of price. That’s going to drive a lot of the new construction. If interest rates stay low, things should be good the next few years.”

Saratoga National Bank & Trust Co. Chairman Raymond F. O’Conor said, “Saratoga County never saw the depths of the ‘Great Recession.’ We had a relatively strong base. Now, with an overall improved economy it was time for the housing sector to make a strong recovery.”

Trulia’s Housing Predictions: How 2014 Will be Different

The housing market continued its uneven recovery in 2013 and will enter 2014 closer to normal than it was a year earlier. Consumer optimism is climbing back: in Trulia’s latest survey, 74% of Americans said that homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream – the highest level since January 2010. Even among young adults (18-34 year olds), many of whom struggled through the recession and are still living with their parents, 73% said homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream, up from 65% in August 2011. Rising prices over the past two years have been great news for homeowners, especially for those who had been underwater, and the real estate industry has benefited from both higher prices and more sales volume.

At the same time, the effects of the recession and housing bust still sting: the barriers to homeownership remain high, and a few markets – mostly in Florida – still have a foreclosure overhang. Plus, the housing recovery itself brings its own challenges, including declining affordability and localized bubble worries, especially in southern California.

Barring any economic crises, the housing market should continue to normalize. Here are 5 ways that the 2014 housing market will be different from 2013:

  1. Housing Affordability Worsens. Buying a home will be more expensive in 2014 than in 2013. Although home-price increases should slow from this year’s unsustainably fast pace (see #4, below), prices will still rise faster than both incomes and rents. Also, mortgage rates will be higher in 2014 than in 2013, thanks both to the strengthening economy (rates tend to rise in recoveries) and to Fed tapering, whenever it comes. The rising cost of homeownership will add insult to injury in America’s least affordable markets: in October 2013, for instance, 25% or less of the homes listed for sale in San Francisco, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York were affordable to middle class households. Nonetheless, buying will remain cheaper than renting. As of September 2013, buying was 35% cheaper than renting nationally, and buying beat renting in all of the 100 largest metros. However, prices and mortgage rates might rise enough to tip the math in favor of renting in a couple of housing markets – starting with San Jose.
  2. The Home-Buying Process Gets Less Frenzied. Home buyers in 2014 might kick themselves for not buying in 2013 or 2012, when mortgage rates and prices were lower, but they’ll take some comfort in the fact that the process won’t be as frenzied. There will be more inventory on the market next year, partly due to new construction, but primarily because higher prices will encourage more homeowners to sell – including those who are no longer underwater.  Also, buyers looking for a home for themselves will face less competition from investors who are scaling back their home purchases (see #3, below). Finally, mortgages should be easier to get because higher rates have slashed refinancing activity and pushed some banks to ramp up their purchase lending. Moreover, the new mortgage rules coming into effect in 2014 will give banks better clarity about the legal and financial risks they face with different types of mortgages, hopefully making them more willing to lend. All in all, more inventory, less competition from investors, and more mortgage credit should all make the buying process less frenzied than in 2013 – for those who can afford to buy.
  3. Repeat Buyers Take Center Stage. 2013 was the year of the investor, but 2014 will be the year of the repeat home buyer. Investors buy less as prices rise: higher prices mean that the return on investment falls, and there’s less room for future price appreciation. Who will fill the gap? Not first-time buyers: saving for a down payment and having a stable job remain significant burdens, and declining affordability is also a big hurdle for first-timers. Who’s left? Repeat buyers: they’re less discouraged by rising prices than either investors or first-time buyers because the home they already own has also risen in value. Also, the down payment is less of a challenge for repeat buyers if they have equity in their current home

    Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

    All adults

    18-34 year-olds only

    Saving enough for a down payment

    55%

    58%

    Not having a stable job

    36%

    43%

    Having a poor credit history

    35%

    33%

    Qualifying for a mortgage

    32%

    29%

    Unable to pay off existing debt

    26%

    30%

    Rising home prices

    22%

    23%

    Rising mortgage rates

    15%

    18%

    Limited inventory

    5%

    5%

    Among renters who wish to buy a home right now. Respondents could choose multiple options. Survey conducted November 2013.
  4. How Much Prices Slow Matters Less Than Why And Where. Prices won’t rise as much in 2014 as in 2013. The latest Trulia Price Monitor showed us that asking home prices rose year-over-year 12.1% nationally and more than 20% in 10 of the 100 largest metros. But it also revealed that these price gains are already slowing sharply in the hottest metros. How much prices slow matters less than why. If prices are slowing for the right reasons, great: growing inventory, fading investor activity, and rising mortgage rates are all natural price-slowing changes to expect at this stage of the recovery. But prices could slow for unhealthy reasons, too: if we have another government shutdown or more debt-ceiling brinksmanship, a drop in consumer confidence could hurt housing demand and home prices. Where prices change matters, too. Slowing prices are welcome news in overvalued or unaffordable markets, but markets where prices are significantly undervalued and borrowers are still underwater would be better off with a year or two of unsustainably fast price gains.
  5. Rental Action Swings Back Toward Urban Apartments. Throughout the recession and recovery, investors bought homes and rented them out, sometimes to people who lost another (or the same!) home to foreclosure. In fact, the number of rented single-family homes leapt by 32% during this period. Going into 2014, though, investors are buying fewer single-family homes; loosening credit standards might allow more single-family renters to become owners again; and fewer owners are losing homes toforeclosures to begin with – all of which mean that the single-family rental market should cool. At the same time, multifamily accounts for an unusually high share of new construction, which means more urban apartment rentals should come onto the market in 2014. Urban apartments will be the first stop for many of the young adults who find jobs and move out of their parents’ homes. In short, 2014 should mean more supply and demand for urban apartment rentals, but slowing supply and demand for single-family rentals. Ironically, economic recovery means that the overall homeownership rate will probably decline, as some young adults form their own households as renters. Still, the shift in rental activity from suburban single-family to urban apartments would be yet another sign of housing recovery.

What other reasons will cause 2014 be different? New local markets will take the spotlight. Ourtop 10 markets to watch are entering 2014 with strong fundamentals, including recent job growth and longer-term economic success, as well as recent construction activity typical of vibrant markets. They are, in alphabetical order:

Why are so many of the high-profile markets of 2013 missing from our list? We ruled out markets that were more than a little overvalued according to our latest Bubble Watch, which eliminated most metros in Texas and coastal California. We also struck markets with a large foreclosure inventory (thanks for the data, RealtyTrac), like most of Florida. Our 10 markets to watch, therefore, should have strong activity in 2014 with few headwinds.

Finally, our most certain prediction: Trulia will be giving you the inside scoop on the housing market in 2014. Our Housing Barometer will track the recovery; our Price and Rent Monitors are the earliest leading indicators of how asking prices and rents are trending nationally and locally; our Rent vs Buy reports will lay out all the math; and we’ll keep analyzing home-search patterns, demographics trends, affordability, and more. We can’t wait for the year to begin.

The Battle for the Big Deal

Lavish parties, big ad budgets, data mining: The chase for the multimillion-dollar listing has never been more intense

 

When luxury broker Jill Hertzberg pulled up to a sprawling eight-bedroom Mediterranean-style mansion on South Florida’s Biscayne Bay to pitch her services earlier this year, she was greeted by one of the owners—standing in the driveway, guarding the home’s gate. She told Ms. Hertzberg she was sorry. They had already decided to give the listing to another agent.

Let’s Make a Deal

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Josh Altman, pictured, will spend up to $10,000 on parties complete with DJs and valets to market a house. Key to the strategy: an impression that only A-listers are invited. Annie Tritt for The Wall Street Journal

 Ms. Hertzberg insisted on speaking to the woman’s husband and marched inside. Fifteen minutes later, the owners—a commercial real-estate developer named Tom Collins and his wife, Sylvia—had changed their minds. Ms. Hertzberg got the 12-month exclusive on the $7.75 million listing.

“In a matter of minutes she convinced me that she knew more about my house than I did,” says Mr. Collins.

The chase for the big listing has never been more intense. Inventory is down and prices are up in many luxury markets, which means brokers are fighting for fewer—and pricier—top sales.

To secure the most competitive listings, brokers are ratcheting up their tactics, from hopping on last-minute flights to woo out-of-town sellers to throwing lavish VIP parties in place of traditional open houses. More brokers and agencies are tapping into technology, building extensive databases with detailed information about the habits and social circles of wealthy homeowners who might be prospective buyers and sellers.

Mauricio Umansky and Billy Rose, co-founders of the Agency, a Beverly Hills-based real-estate firm, say their competitive advantage comes in the form of a proprietary database they have developed that collects and tracks information about high net-worth individuals.

For instance, if the Agency is looking to target potential buyers for the Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live, a luxury-apartment complex near the University of Southern California, it can use the database to find people whose children attend the college, or wealthy people who work in offices downtown and may want to shorten their commute.

“In the old days, you could spray and pray,” says Mr. Rose, referring to the practice of spreading the news of a listing and hoping buyers will emerge. “In today’s world, where potential buyers for a home in L.A. can come as easily from Shanghai as they can from Beverly Hills, you have to use more sophisticated methods.”

The agents won’t disclose exactly how they developed the database, beyond the fact that it costs several hundred thousand dollars a year to keep up. But they note that it has a number of uses for generating and following up on leads. Agents at the firm can look up what kinds of hobbies a potential client pursues—a horse enthusiast might want an equestrian property, for example. People familiar with the database say it uses data provided by credit-card companies and other information.

They can also see who a wealthy individual’s friends and closest associates are, enabling them to contact a potential buyer through one of their friends, says Mr. Rose. He says the database has helped the Agency—which launched just two years ago—to quickly compete with more-established firms in town.

“It’s as if an intelligence agency, in exchange for a gargantuan fee, has allowed us to mine their data,” Mr. Rose says of the software.

Ms. Hertzberg says that she and her longtime business partner Jill Eber have spent 21 years building their own database. So when they get a new listing, such as Mr. Collins’s Miami Beach home on Biscayne Bay, they can contact potential buyers from the U.S. to South America to Asia. “A vast majority of the buyers of high-end properties in South Florida are coming from abroad,” says Ms. Eber. Mr. Collins says a high-profile politician from Africa is currently in contract to buy his house for nearly the asking price. He declined to give his name, as did Ms. Hertzberg.

Older real-estate companies like Sotheby’s International Realty also have access to databases that they have been compiling for decades. These databases have information on hundreds of thousands of people that the company has come into contact with over the years, whether through a transaction or simply at an open house. The data are used in a variety of ways. There are algorithms that predict how long people typically stay in their homes—and when they will most likely want to sell. Using that information, an agent could invite those homeowners to a charity event or another function in order to meet them in a purely social and seemingly coincidental manner—rather than calling them directly about selling their home, which can be off-putting to some people.

Brokers say there is more pressure than ever to prove their value to potential clients. The Internet has made it easy for buyers and sellers to compare brokers’ track records, and to research properties for themselves, demystifying the role of the agent. “There’s a lot more transparency these days—when I first started in the business, there were no public records online and the seller was forced to rely on the agent for most information,” says Pamela Liebman, chief executive of Corcoran, one of the country’s larger real estate agencies. “Agents don’t hold the keys to the kingdom anymore.”

When L.A. home buyers can come as easily from Shanghai as they can from Beverly Hills, you have to use more sophisticated methods.

The rewards for scoring a major listing are sizable. While agents will often reduce their commission to 5% instead of the standard 6% % (3% for representing the buyer, 3% for representing the seller) for large transactions, that still amounts to $500,000 for each broker for a $20 million deal, or $1 million if one broker is able to represent both sides of the deal. Top luxury agents generally generate between $2 to $5 million in commissions annually, though that may shrink to $1.5 to $2 million after they pay a cut to their agencies and often to their staff, and after they cover operating expenses such as advertising.

Jeff Hyland, the veteran agent who is president and co-founder of Beverly Hills’s Hilton & Hyland, makes between $3 million and $4 million a year in commissions, according to estimates by people familiar with the firm. He says he uses several different techniques to “win the beauty contest,” industry parlance for scoring a big listing. He will often prepare an analysis of where he thinks buyers will be coming from for a particular property, plucking names from Forbes lists or elsewhere. Mr. Hyland says he also has another advantage: His firm is an affiliate of Christie’s, giving him the ability to personally market his listings to the art house’s biggest patrons.

A few years ago, Mr. Hyland and his partner Rick Hilton won the exclusive listing on Candy’s Spelling’s Beverly Hills mansion, beating out more than a half dozen other agents. Afterward, Mr. Hyland sent a brochure of Ms. Spelling’s home to the top 50 clients of Christie’s and Hilton & Hyland’s proprietary VIP mailing list, offering them a look at the house 45 days before he planned to market it more widely. “My ability to reach out to the art world, and some of the wealthiest patrons in it, definitely differentiates me from other brokers,” says Mr. Hyland, who sold Ms. Spelling’s house to British racing heiress Petra Ecclestone for $85 million. “Christie’s has the best Rolodex in the world.”

Mr. Hyland says he also uses analytics, developed by an in-house IT and marketing employee, to determine where people are coming from when they visit his website. Then he will heavily market properties in those specific geographic areas, whether London, Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Suzanne Perkins, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based agent, touts her marketing expertise and her willingness to spend on advertising as the key to her success. While most brokers will spend between $10,000 and $15,000 to advertise a property, she says that she often spends between $50,000 and $100,000 to promote a home, taking out advertisements everywhere from Architectural Digest to the Land Report.

She brings a 37-page presentation to meetings with potential clients that includes clips of advertisements she has run in the past as well as lists of places she has advertised. Ms. Perkins says that she recently snagged a listing in Montecito after the owners, who are based in Scottsdale, Ariz., contacted her after seeing her advertisements. They interviewed several brokers but gave Ms. Perkins the listing after reviewing her 37-page presentation. The sellers’ 2,324-square-foot home has views of the Pacific Ocean and three bedrooms, and is on the market for $7.95 million.

All that advertising, plus the 20% cut to Sotheby’s, reduces Ms. Perkins’s take home from nearly $3 million to around $1 million. “I spend a lot on advertising properties, yes,” says Ms. Perkins. But I am also advertising myself.”

Analytics and PowerPoint presentations may impress clients, but ultimately more old-fashioned tactics, like forging a personal connection, often seal the deal. Last year, Casey Borman, a former hedge-fund manager, and his brother inherited a substantial home in Malibu from their father, Burton Borman, the former head of insurance company PennCorp Financial, when he died. On 1.46 acres, the property has an 11,413-square-foot, six-bedroom house designed by Frank Gehry; a lighted tennis court; a lap pool; an outdoor area with a spa and 160 feet of beach frontage—one of the longest stretches in Malibu.

Mr. Borman says he took the search for a broker incredibly seriously. “There are probably only 1,000 people in the world who could buy this home and all of them are billionaires,” he says. “So I had to find a broker who could handle those kinds of people. I was really shopping for a personality more than anything else.” After interviewing more than a dozen of Los Angeles’s top brokers this past spring, Mr. Borman gave the 24-month exclusive to Mr. Hyland, in part because of the agent’s reaction when Mr. Borman’s cat had a seizure.

“I flipped out, but Jeff wasn’t fazed at all,” Mr. Borman says. “He has a great, low-key personality, and I totally trust him to deal with people of a certain wealth and to close a deal.” Mr. Hyland shares the listing with Jack Pritchett, a Malibu-based agent; the home listed in May for $57.5 million.

Mr. Hyland also says that the biggest key to getting a listing in high-end real estate remains word-of-mouth. Real estate has remained a very local business and the world of trophy real estate still involves a very small number of buyers and sellers, most of whom talk to each other.

Even younger agents in their late 20s and early 30s, such as Ryan Serhant and Josh Altman, both of whom star on reality television shows and are fluent in social media, agree that the most reliable way to win a listing is the traditional one: having a satisfied customer refer you to their friend, colleague or business associate.

“I keep a quote above my desk: ‘success begets success,’ to remind myself that, at the end of the day, this business is all about referrals,” says Mr. Serhant, who is marketing a $23 million penthouse in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan for developer Young Woo. “You can turn one deal, one good sale, into 100 others.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Altman and his brother, a former talent agent, sold a house in Beverly Hills that belonged to a well-known movie executive. The seller told his friend Courtney Callahan to hire Mr. Altman and his brother to sell her home: a 9,329-square-foot Beaux-Arts estate with nine bedrooms known as the “Western White House” because so many presidents stayed there as guests of its former owners, Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler and his wife Dorothy Chandler. About a month ago, Mr. Altman got the 12-month exclusive on the $10.6 million home.

Mr. Altman says that while he and his brother get about half of their business through referrals, they often tell potential sellers they will host a fancy cocktail party at their home to drum up buyers—and to get brokers who may have buyer clients to come see the home. Rather than host a traditional open house, say on a Sunday afternoon, Mr. Altman says he and his brother will spend up to $10,000 on a Friday night cocktail party, hiring bartenders, a valet, a DJ and a caterer.

“We call those parties VIP open houses. Exclusivity and VIP status are very important when it comes to selling a high-end home, so we make it part of our strategy,” he adds. “Everybody wants what is off limits, what isn’t available.”

Out with the inns: Adirondack destinations slowly vanishing

Before there were automobiles, before there was air conditioning, there were the Adirondacks and its all-inclusive inns.

Dinner, tennis and lakefront views were some of the amenities the inns offered guests who retreated from the sweltering cities during the summer months in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

While several traditional inns and resorts hold on to a piece of American history, others are being sold to developers poised with a wrecking ball to level the large buildings, subdivide the land and build private vacation homes to bring in the big bucks.

“Everyone will eventually — I’m sure — suffer the same fate (as Holl’s Inn in Inlet) because it’s just not economically feasible to try and eke out a living running a hotel … “ said Greg Timm, co-owner of Timm Associates Realty in Old Forge. “There’s more value in the land subdivided into parcels than there ever would be in trying to resurrect a hotel. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life.”

At least 18 inns in the Old-Forge-Eagle Bay-Inlet area have closed over the years, and while some see the trend as impending for all of the quintessential Adirondack inns, others believe there’s room in vacationers’ habits for them to be maintained.

Steven Engelhart, executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, said some of those still operating include Covewood Lodge and The Waldheim on Big Moose Lake, and Hemlock Hill on Lake Clear.

“It’s disappointing to hear when a big sort of historic inn like the Holl’s Inn in Inlet is going to be demolished and no longer function as an inn,” Englehart said. “That seems like a fad passing and kind of the end of an era.

“On the other hand, there are lots of examples throughout the Adirondacks of similar kinds of establishments that continue to thrive and do well.”

In contrast, Timm — who was Realtor for Holl’s Inn, a lakefront property nestled in a cove off Fourth Lake — sold the property to Pittsburgh, Pa., residents Charles and Hillary Porter. It eventually will be torn down.

He said two cottages on the premises will be restored.

Calls to Hillary Porter were not returned.

“They are not going to operate it as an inn,” Timm said. “It was in extreme disrepair.”

Fading history

 

A demolished portion of Holl’s Inn could be seen during a recent visit to Fourth Lake. Signs dotted the property — from the driveway to the lake shore — warning off trespassers. Many of the windows on the faded green building were boarded up, while others allowed a glimpse into the inn’s history with sights of mattresses and lamps — artifacts of an inn that once provided the American Plan to its guests.

Once upon a time, an inn providing the American Plan was the way to vacation in the Adirondacks. The plan provided lodging, meals and activities at one price.

Prices ranged from $10 to $21 per week per person in 1890 (that would be about $250 to $520 in 2012).

“They would spend a month or an entire summer on the resort,” said Jerry Pepper, director of the Adirondack Museum library. “They were trying to escape the cities.”

With large trunks in tow, Pepper said families would take trains from cities such as New York and Boston, as well areas such as Utica, to the Adirondacks, and from the station take buses or steamboats to their specific resort.

After the automobile was widely introduced in the 1920s and ’30s, he said interest in all-inclusive resorts began to decline.

And once air conditioning was commonplace in big city businesses, Pepper said shutting down for the summer became obsolete.

“More and more of the Adirondack tourism you see centered in places like Old Forge, Lake George or Lake Placid, where there are chain hotels and chain restaurants,” Pepper said. “People are seeing the Adirondacks through the windshield of a car.”

Restoring history

 

Despite many inns around them closing, Joedda McClain and Jay Latterman have put time, money and effort into preserving The Woods Inn in Inlet.

The inn was abandoned for 28 years. There were offers to purchase and demolish the building in later years, but Latterman said the owner was looking for someone to restore the inn, restaurant and tavern.

“It was in horrific shape. We did a complete restoration,” McClain said of the more than $1 million project. “We really wanted to get the building back up and running.”

From sinking balconies to a lack of insulation and adequate bathrooms, contractor McClain and electrician Latterman dove into the project.

They knew what they were getting into, McClain said, and now after 11 years the inn is for sale and hopefully will go to someone who will appreciate the history within.

At one time, Latterman said the inn operated with the traditional American Plan and featured tennis courts, a dance hall — where traveling bands performed — and an ice cream parlor, the latter two operating in the unused barn-like structure on the premises.

“There’s still a lot of people who appreciate the historically accurate place,” she said. “It’s a totally different experience than staying in a big box inn, or general vacation spot.”

And it was that experience that attracted Sondra Gawlikowski.

The Philadelphia woman was at the inn setting up for her Sept. 7 wedding, and said the lakefront business always was her family’s vacation spot.

“It’s a nostalgic thing. My fiancé — Andrew Zabroske — and I got engaged up here,” she said. “We wouldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.”

Nancy Martin Pratt, co-owner of The Waldheim on Big Moose Lake, said she’s the third generation of her family to manage the business, which still operates on the American Plan — featuring three meals a day, lodging, maid service and a camp picnic mid-week.

They also have a “fire boy” who comes to each cottage and lights a fire in the fireplace each morning, Pratt said.

“We’re kind of at the end of the road, so it’s kind of a destination spot,” she said. “We’ve watched other businesses come and go, and I don’t know, it’s a miracle, I guess.”

Pratt said her family — the Martins — have owned the establishment, which features 17 cottages, since 1904 and have maintained a loyal customer base.

Plus, her family’s dedication also keeps The Waldheim in business.

“I think they come to value what we stand for, which is family,” Pratt said. “Our family, but also the connection with other families who have come for years.”

There is a lot of family tradition with inns still in operation, Engelhart said, which is a key distinction between them and the “homogenized” places you can stay, no matter where you are in the country.

“People are seeking out places that are distinct, that are different, that are intimate, that are unusual,” he said. “I think that’s part of what the appeal of these places is. Hopefully (they) only continue to be more sought out.”

Celine Dion Lists her Beautiful Jupiter Island, Florida home with Sotheby’s International Realty

The Bahamian-style home of Celine Dion.

Brazen Sotheby’s International Realty in Bellevue, Washington wants to say Congratulations are in order to Cristina Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach and referring Agent Joseph Montanaro, of Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec on their gorgeous listing here! See the article below recently published in the Wall Street Journal announcing this great property!

Celine Dion is putting her Jupiter Island, Fla., compound on the market for $72
million.

 

The 5.7-acre property has a Bahamian-style home that is nearly 10,000 square feet with five bedrooms and five en suite bathrooms, a formal living room with vaulted ceilings, a screened-in porch, a media room, an elevator and guest wing. The master suite has a walk-in closet with an automated rack for clothing and an automated carousel for shoes. It also has a wraparound terrace and two decks, one with an fireplace and another with a hot tub.

The property includes an eight-bedroom guesthouse, a tennis house with a simulated golf range, a pool house and a beach house with a sleeping loft and massage room. There are three pools, one at the rear of the property by the Atlantic Ocean, and two connecting pools at the front that have their own water park, with two slides, a bridge over a lazy river and water gun “stations.” The property has more than 400 linear feet on the ocean and has a four-car tandem garage and an additional three-car garage.

Ms. Dion and her manager husband, René Angélil, bought part of the land under her Canadian firm, Renlec Management, in 2005 for $12.5 million and then bought the adjacent property in 2008 for $7 million also under Renlec, according to public records. The couple razed the home on the first property to build their current spread, which was completed in 2010, according to referring agent Joseph Montanaro, of Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec.

Mr. Montanaro says Ms. Dion is selling the property because she’s going to be spending more time in Las Vegas, where her Caesars Palace show contract has been extended until 2019. Ms. Dion didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The listing agent is Cristina Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach.

April Home Sales Up 6 Percent in Albany Area

Closed sales of homes increased 6 percent in April in the Albany, NY region while sales contracts, a sign of future activity, rose 15 percent, according to preliminary figures released today.

The median sale price increased 4 percent, to $194,600, and the average price increased 5 percent, to $217,340 on homes sold through the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service.

Total inventory of homes for sale fell 14.1 percent.

The data, which was released by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, is a sign that the residential sales market “has reached or is close to balance between buyers and sellers,” GCAR officials said.

Sellers are no longer at a negotiating disadvantage as they had been during the five-year long slump that was triggered by the recession, said Miguel Berger, GCAR president. Historically low mortgage interest rates are one of the reasons activity has picked up.

“Clearly buyers are returning to the market,” Berger said. “And as we see the market start to balance itself we can also report that housing prices are appreciating at a ‘normal’ rate. All in all the market appears to be healthy and we expect this to be a long term trend.”

The sales results for the four largest counties in the CRMLS were:

Albany County: closed sales down 11 percent; pending sales up 21 percent; median price up 4 percent, $198,000; average price up 4 percent, $225,585

Rensselaer County: closed sales up 4 percent; pending sales up 29 percent; median price down 8 percent, to $165,000; average price down 19 percent, $166,639

Saratoga County: closed sales up 24 percent; pending sales up 17 percent; median price up 7 percent, $260,000; average price up 8 percent, $282,026

Schenectady County: closed sales up 24 percent; pending sales up 11 percent; median price down 6 percent, $149,200; average price down 5 percent, $171,561