Arizona’s reputation as a destination for resorts, golf courses and plush vacation homes has caught the attention of a prestigious real estate company that caters to the global wealthy elite.
Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates president and CEO Mike Good said this week that the New Jersey-based company, which has some 400 offices worldwide, is moving toward opening a franchise in the Valley by the end of 2007.
Operating in more than 20 countries, the firm serves high-end buyers on the hunt for third, fourth and fifth homes — think private island in the Bahamas or a picturesque estate nestled in France’s wine country.
The Valley has pockets of extraordinary housing and a pool of buyers who have bought paintings and other collectibles from Sotheby’s auction house and are familiar with the brand, said Good, who was in Scottsdale this week for a company networking event.
“Without a doubt, once we have the right set of circumstances in place, we will have people who will immediately resonate to it,” he said.
The real estate franchise started up in 2004 when Realogy Corp., the world’s largest real estate franchisor, entered into an agreement with Sotheby’s Holdings.
Sotheby’s has talked with several Valley franchisee candidates, who run existing agencies, over the past year or more. Good said he would like to get a local operation up and running as early as the third quarter of this year.
Scottsdale real estate agent Dean Benigno, who specializes in golf course properties, said he isn’t surprised Sotheby’s is entering the local market.
“This Valley has become more international over the years. It’s not just a local market anymore,” Benigno said.
Competition among agencies is already heated with a lot of boutique firms vying to sell big-ticket properties, the Realty Executives agent said. It’s a more challenging market but luxury homes are still selling, he added.
“That particular consumer is not as impacted by the economy,” Benigno said. “You are seeing a lot of cash transactions.”
Scottsdale broker Sandra Wilken said the entry of Sotheby’s into the market would benefit her business.
“If they come into the Valley, it will only bring in more clientele into the Valley, which would be a plus,” she said.
She added that her company, which does a lot of out-ofarea deals, would be interested in working with Sotheby’s.
They focus on international clients, and “we’re already doing it,” Wilken said.
Arizona is one of several states — including Washington and Utah — that Sotheby’s is targeting for expansion, Good said.
“We’ve had such rapid growth, we’re bringing on three sometimes four companies a month in different areas of the country,” he said.
The company would start off with one Arizona franchise, though Good said there is potential for growth.
“This is not a 100-yard dash. This is a marathon,” he said. “We’re building an organization for the long haul.”