Sotheby’s International Realty 2020 Brand Stats

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


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


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 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,, 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


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

Stuttgart’s Finest: Swiss Collection Encompasses 25 Years of Modern Porsche

A special capsule sale from RM Sotheby’s offers unrepeatable examples of Stuttgart’s greatest hits.

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An unwritten rule about buying cars from Stuttgart is to search both ends of the timeline; chasing down either Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche’s earliest efforts or sourcing the most modern examples one can find. Unlike lesser companies, the team of engineers and designers who carried the torch of performance motoring after the elder Porsche’s untimely death in 1951 and his son Ferry’s retirement in 1989 proved that the performance-oriented spirit of the company’s namesake did not dissipate.

RM Sotheby’s is proud to celebrate this continued dedication with a Swiss-based, stand-alone single-owner collection of some of Stuttgart’s finest sports cars from the modern era as the exciting climax to our Online Only: Open Roads, February auction, with a staggered closure over 19-28 February:



1995 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Starting off with an air-cooled, turbocharged bang, this open-top 911 existed so far above other 993-generation Porsches as to be essentially nonexistent: Merely 14 were constructed by Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur at the request of Fitz Haberl, one of Porsche’s most influential dealers in Munich. With widened rear wheel arches and a factory-optional spoiler fitted, the black-on-black theme of this ultra-rare 911 is broken only by its Maroon-colored cloth top. Originally priced with an 89,500 DM premium over the non-turbocharged variant (the approximate equivalent of a $110,139 surcharge today), this example sets the tone for the rest of our list: Unapologetically extraordinary.

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2004 Porsche Carrera GT

Unveiled in spectacular fashion on the eve of the 2000 Paris Motor Show, the concept Carrera GT was a statement that Porsche was not beholden to the rear-engine, six-cylinder formula that built the brand’s reputation. Instead, when the production version of the Carrera GT supercar was released in 2004, it marked many milestones not simply in the history of Porsche, but in the automotive world writ large: The Carrera GT was the first production vehicle built around a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, a foundation that makes up nearly every serious supercar today. Unlike the offerings of today, however, this U.S.-spec Fayence Yellow-over-Dark Grey Carrera GT is shifted by its driver.


2010 Porsche 911 Sport Classic

Sometimes, a look back can provide an opportunity for reinvention. The “Classic” in this Sport Classic can easily be observed in this example’s timeless silhouette, echoing some of the dramatic highlights from the brand’s history, right down to the headline-grabbing “ducktail” spoiler. And yet, factory-equipped with a ‘Power Kit,’ the Sport Classic’s 3.8-litre, horizontally opposed, six-cylinder engine comfortably produced 408 horsepower—nearly double the 210 horsepower produced from the 2.7-litre, air-cooled engine under the original “ducktail”: The 1973 Carrera 911 RS 2.7. This example was only the twelfth ever built out of a limited run of 250 ever made. As such, the desirability among Porschephiles for the few Sport Classics released has been strong from the time it was announced. A modern icon.

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2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

As truly old-school Porsche followers will no doubt recognize, hybrid power has flowed in the brand’s blood since the Lohner-Porsche of 1900. Though Ferdinand Porsche’s first effort was driven by electric motors mounted in wheel hubs (a true innovation, spawningseveralmodernimitators), the elder Porsche could scarcely have conceived of the levels of power and refinement achieved by the 918 Spyder. Showing under 5,500 km from new, this tasteful, hybrid hypercar has been optioned with Porsche’s Liquid Chrome Blue Metallic over Mocha Brown leather with Silver accents—one of only three ordered in this exact specification. The perfect counterpoint to the raw emotion from the Carrera GT supercar, this 918 is proof of Porsche’s evolution into a world-class OEM that can offer both exhilarating performance and unparalleled refinement in the same forward-thinking package.

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2010 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Not the first model overseen by this individual, but the first on our list, this 2010 Porsche 911 GT2 RS marks for us the introduction of a name that will no doubt one day be added to the list of greatest-ever automotive engineers: Dr. Andreas Preuninger. Reputed among the motoring press as the person who nearly single-handedly re-established Porsche performance, Dr. Preuninger has overseen every GT-branded model but one (if you have yet to see it, this recent Top Gear segment is illuminating). For this 2010 example, Dr. Preuninger achieved outright domination of the leaderboards, not only on paper, with the GT2 RS earning the title of “fastest and most powerful 997-generation 991” upon its release, but on the track as well, with the model setting a 2010 record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife that remained unbroken internally until the 991.2 Turbo S in 2017. Deeply impressive.

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2017 Porsche 911 R

In almost a year of compiling this semi-regular blog for RM Sotheby’s, your humble writer has tried to keep his personal preferences private, but with this example, he must confess an undeniable bias. Since serving as an editor on the English-language translation of the definitive book on the making of the modern 911 R, this writer was struck by the sincerity of the true believers within Porsche who balance respect for the brand’s history while understanding the necessity to reinvent it. Practically covered with grace notes and “Easter Eggs” instantly recognizable to Porschephiles everywhere down to the “pepita”-patterned inserts on the brown leather seats, this model was a nod to the original motorsport-inspired 911 R from 1967. For many other brands, the hint at history would be merely aesthetic, but underneath the skin existed the same GT3 RS-spec suspension and 4.0-litre powerplant that made all of Dr. Preuninger’s other output so exemplary. The most critical addition was a six-speed manual gearbox; no spoiler necessary. This example, the 401st constructed out of 991 total, is made even more extraordinary by its Paint-to-Sample Gulf Blue exterior.


2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Proving exactly the ethos of individualism that has from the beginning been integral to the Porsche brand, this RennSport-spec, Paint-to-Sample Porsche 911 GT2 RS was ordered new in this striking shade of Azzurro California Metallic with contrasting gold-colored center-lock wheels. The outspoken exterior of the GT2 is balanced by its straightforward, motorsport-inspired interior, with adaptive sport seats trimmed in two-tone, light blue-over-black leather. Underneath the skin, Dr. Preuninger’s lightening regime truly shines, with the roof of this 911 GT2 RS fashioned from the ultimate natural material for lightweight strength: Magnesium. With carbon-fiber components used throughout this example, it is clear this colorful car makes a modern statement that the future of Porsche performance is bright.


Blog Author:Forest Casey
Casey is the Editorial and Marketing Content Developer at RM Sotheby’s.

Select Sotheby’s merges with upstate New York brokerage

Select Sotheby’s International Realty will double its listings and the number of agents serving in the Lake Placid, New York region following a merger with Century 21 High Peaks Realty.

Select Sotheby’s will add nine agents from Century 21, giving the brokerage 18 in the Lake Placid area and 60 total.

John Burke bought the Select Sotheby’s franchise rights in 2007 and opened his first office in Saratoga Springs. Since then, Burke has been working to expand the franchise’s footprint to luxury and resort areas around the state, opening offices in Lake Placid and Bolton Landing near Lake George. Burke said Select Sotheby’s now is tapping into high-end real estate markets in the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, Rochester and Buffalo.

The franchise had $120 million in overall sales last year, as volume grew about 35 percent over the previous year.

Burke said he began talking with Century 21 High Peaks about three months ago about a potential merger. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Burke said all of the agents will join Select Sotheby’s, including Century 21 High Peaks broker and owner Mike Damp.

Burke said the agreement will give Damp and his agents access to a big referral network and more marketing resources. Select Sotheby’s meanwhile is gaining access to agents who have strong ties and relationships in the Lake Placid area, Burke said.

Burke said he expects the total number of agents at Select Sotheby’s will grow another 30 percent or more this year.

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.”

The best apps for selling and buying homes

In the fast-paced San Diego real estate game, successful agents are harnessing mobile data to stay two steps ahead while house hopping.

Luckily, in the age of smartphones, specialized apps put market information at your fingertips. Plus, they give you the ability to win over clients and streamline the paperwork with a few taps.

While some companies such as Zillow and Trulia have built online empires by providing always-up-to-date listings, there are lots of useful smartphone tools that can help agents work faster and more efficiently in the field.

Whether you’re searching for a home in Mission Hills or selling a four-bedroom in East Village, here are nine apps that will help you close the deal fast.

Find the house

The best-laid plans often go awry, and even if you came prepared with a list of prime properties in the bay area, your buyers could decide their budget or taste in neighborhoods have changed. With the right apps, you can adapt on the fly.

There are two big dogs on the mobile house-hunting scene: Zillow and Trulia. And while they mostly focus on buyers, both of their pocket guides guarantee you will have the most current listings and pricing info.

Zillow Real Estate (free on Android and iOS) puts 100 million searchable properties on your smartphone, plus helpful features such as notifications for favorite properties, search within an area that you draw on the map, and price estimates based on surrounding homes and market trends.

Real Estate by Trulia (free on Android and iOS) also uses built-in GPS to find nearby houses on the fly, and adds essential components such as crime maps, school locations, and filtering by criteria like number of bedrooms and total square footage.

Show it off

Once you’re in the ballpark of price and location, it’s time to exhibit the interior features. Even if the buyer isn’t with you on the initial visit, your smartphone’s camera can help you communicate some of a spot’s key characteristics.

For that in-the-room-with-you vibe, try 360 Panorama (99 cents on iOS). This app lets you stitch multiple photos together into a sharable, interactive picture that shows all 360 degrees of a space.

If you need to point out specific details, Skitch (free on Android and iOS) lets users quickly mark up photos and PDFs with highlights, boxes, arrows and overlaid text. It’s perfect for focusing in on oak cabinets or a cobblestone-framed fireplace.

If the prospective buyers want to update the space with their own DIY touches, Zillow Digs(free, iPad only) will help you estimate and factor in those costs. The app provides a database of searchable home-improvement ideas along with tools for projecting project pricing based on location.

Seal the deal

Once your clients are ready to pull the trigger on the home of their dreams, don’t let the paperwork hold up the process.

First, make sure payments are within reason by using Zillow Mortgage Marketplace (free on Android and iOS). This app will help your buyers budget monthly payments and shop around for loan quotes with its dead-simple interface.

Once you agree on terms and have the contract written up, Docusign Ink (free for Android and iOS, $15/month basic plan) will help you get the necessary signatures to make the sale official. All you need is a smartphone and your finger, so it’s perfect for endorsing documents while you’re out and about.

And if you’re completely committed to going paperless, there are a bunch of cloud-based services that keep your documents organized and accessible. The two best options for real estate purposes are Cartavi (free on Android and iOS, $10/month basic plan), Docusign’s sister service that was built specifically for realtors and emphasizes collaborative document sharing, and Dropbox (free on Anderoid and iOS), which links up directly with Docusign and makes it simple to distribute contracts via any online medium.

Warhol top pick at Sotheby’s best-ever $380 million auction

Art collectors dug deep into their pockets on Wednesday and smashed records for a second straight night as Sotheby’s held the biggest auction in its history, led by a record-setting $105 million work by Andy Warhol.

The auction of post-war and contemporary art totaled $380.6 million, its highest total ever, and set new auction records for major artists Cy Twombly and Brice Marden.

Of the 61 lots on offer only seven failed to sell. The total was just shy of the $394 million high pre-sale estimate.

If it was not quite the blockbuster affair that rival Christie’s staged on Tuesday, it was still an impressive result, marking the auction house’s second solid success in a row after it scored with a $290 million sale of Impressionist and modern art a week ago.

(Read more: Most expensive diamond ever sold goes for $83.2M)

The sale’s expected highlight, in particular, far exceeded expectations. Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash (Doubled Disaster),” from his seminal death and disaster series, soared to $105,445,000 including commission, 50 percent higher than the late pop artist’s previous auction record of $71.7 million.

Sotheby’s did not disclose the buyer, who was bidding by telephone. It had estimated the nearly 9-by-14-foot work from 1963 to sell for “in excess of $60 million,” but that figure turned out to be the opening bid.

Sotheby’s officials were thrilled with the results.

“How can you not be thrilled when you make the highest total in Sotheby’s history,” worldwide head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer said after the sale.


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Most expensive painting at an auction sold

CNBC’s Robert Frank reports the record for the most expensive painting by a deceased artist, as well as a living artist both sold Tuesday night. Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for $142.4 million.

Of the Warhol, Meyer, who also served as auctioneer, said “It’s a great price – and completely worth it,” adding, “It’s the best painting I’ve ever sold in my whole career.”

(Read more: Art could be drawing a disturbing economic picture)

The price was the second-highest in history for a contemporary work of art – the highest being the $142.4 million fetched by Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” on Tuesday at Christie’s, the top auction price ever.

Auction officials at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have said that recent price spikes were driven in part by wealthy collectors entering what is an increasingly global market.

“Global participation was evident throughout the sale,” said Alex Rotter, head of contemporary art in New York, noting that sellers from 10 countries offered works in the sale.

As to bidders, Rotter said, “When the quality is there, multiple people from different cultural backgrounds are going for it, because it’s outstanding.” Sotheby’s said 64 percent of registered bidders were from outside the United States.

(Read more: Bacon triptych sells for record $142.4 million at auction)

Sotheby’s also said there was “significant participation” from Asia and Latin America.

Other highlights of the sale included Gerhard Richter’s “A.B. Courbet”, which sold for $26.5 million and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled (Yellow Tar and Feathers)”, which fetched $25.9 million. Both beat their $25 million high estimate.

Twombly’s “Poems to the Sea” was estimated at only $7 million but soared to $21.7 million, a record for a new artist.


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


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.”

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


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.