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March 26, 2023
Sotheby and Christies in the Carolinas
For centuries, two names have come to mind immediately in the world of buying or selling fine art: Christie-s and Sotheby-s. In recent years, these prestigious names have also become associated with real estate, and both companies are striving to make sure theirs is the name you think of when you buy and sell exclusive properties.
Their market includes the entire world, but they have also firmly set their sights on growing their business in the Carolinas.
For some time, the two companies have been each other-s only real competition in the art world. While there are older, more established realty companies, both Sotheby-s International Real Estate and Christie-s Great Estates are counting on people being drawn to the international prestige of their parent companies- names.
"We are getting people to approach us who wouldn-t have if not for the brand," admits Gregg Antonsen, Christie-s senior vice president of Business Development in North America. "It-s all about the brand." Eric Mangan, Sotheby-s vice president of Development, agrees that name recognition is critical.
"Clientele from throughout the world turn to us because they know our reputation," says Mangan. "Our goal is not to be on every street corner in every town. Our goal is to be the leading agents for the extraordinary properties." Both companies have built their philosophy on the belief that anyone buying expensive art and furnishings should display it in an equally impressive home. Selling them those homes seemed the practical thing to do.
Each company has established an extensive network of offices across the globe to help market their listings. Both have established strict criteria as to who will be allowed to use their name, choosing agents who already have a track record of serving discriminating, high-end clients.
To be listed on either the Sotheby-s International Real Estate or Christie-s Great Estates Web site, a property must have a minimum asking price of $1 million. Once on those sites, the properties are available for viewing by agents and potential buyers from throughout the world. Great Estates offers an added perk by publishing a magazine, sold on newsstands and distributed to select homes and featuring its most prestigious offerings.
As of April 2006, Christie-s had more than 90 homes listed for at least $15 million, including 11 above the $5 million mark in the Carolinas. Meanwhile, Sotheby-s boasted a total of 45 listings above the $1 million threshold in South Carolina and another 80 in North Carolina, where the jewel in Sotheby-s crown is one of the oldest residences in Wilmington - a meticulously restored home on the Cape Fear River listed at $3 million.
Sotheby-s and Christie-s competitiveness in the art world has carried over to the real estate side, though they entered the market at different times and in different ways. Sotheby-s, which began buying and selling homes in the 1970s, lays claim to being the older of the two businesses, having started in London in 1744, selling rare books. Art became its primary focus in the mid 1900s, and the company expanded in 1955 by opening offices in New York. Its beginnings in real estate were relatively humble until Sotheby-s joined forces with realty giant Cendant in 2004. The company quickly grew to more than 300 offices worldwide.
Not just anyone gets to use the name Sotheby-s International Realty. "When we license the name, the firm has to be one of the leading firms in its market area," explains Sotheby-s Mangan. "Our vision statement is to artfully unite extraordinary properties with extraordinary lives."
Celia Dunn, who was with Sotheby-s initially, recently returned to the fold. With offices in Bluffton and Savannah, she says the impact of being associated with the Sotheby-s brand again was immediate.
"We started back Jan. 20," says Dunn. "A tremendous number of people are calling us to list their high-end and moderately priced homes. It-s meaning a lot to us, both in listing higher-end properties and in selling, as well as with referrals and people who want to buy in this area."
There are only two other Sotheby-s International representatives in all of the Carolinas: Prince George Sotheby-s International Realty Offices in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and the newly signed Cape Fear Sotheby-s International Realty offices in Wilmington and Topsail Beach, in North Carolina. Both say being associated with an internationally recognized name helps give their clients added assurance that their service will be first class.
"We always had great clientele," says Prince George-s Carol Jayroe. "But it gives our clients more global opportunities that we didn-t have before."
Cape Fear-s Mark Evans agrees.
"People know Sotheby-s is white-glove service," he says. "We had somewhere in the $20 million mark of listings in the first 30 days, and we haven-t really gotten the word out yet. I-ve had clients who have had other brokers for 15 years for all of their buying and selling. As soon as they found out we-ve franchised with Sotheby-s, they moved over to us."
Sotheby-s refers to its competition as "the younger auction house." Christie-s is younger, but by only 22 years, having held its first auction in 1766. In the beginning, the company dealt entirely in art and has maintained that stronghold over the centuries. The Christie family remained involved in the business for many years, but it is currently owned by French retailer Francois Pinault, whose holding company, Artemis, also owns the Gucci fashion house.
"We-re the only company in the world that has a broad spectrum among luxury lines," says Aronson.
While Christie-s had been considering the real estate market for some time, the real push came when it bought Great Estates, a realty company with a reputation for handling great properties, in 1995.
"The timing could not have been better," explains Aronsen, who started out with the original Great Estates group. "It-s becoming such a small world and people can identify strongly with a global brand name. We were known at Great Estates for three things: integrity, discretion and expertise — and Christie-s was, as well. Probably the fourth thing we would be known for is our service to our clients."
He adds, "Before Christie-s, we were a great national brand. Now we are a great international brand."
That coveted brand name would be reason enough for agencies to seek to join, but the global networking and the magazine exposure cannot be discounted. Christie-s affiliate, William Means Real Estate, enjoyed a 70-year history of representing exclusive Charleston area properties before joining the Christie-s Great Estate stable. According to Marketing Director Heidi Stroude, Means found Christie-s ability to network clients and properties worldwide too valuable to pass up.
"When we put a listing on the Christie-s Web site, it-s immediately available to anyone around the world," she explains. "A lot of people go directly to that Web site to look for properties. We don-t have to do much as far as seeking out. The reputation is there."
Means Reality has the distinction of being the listing agency for the most expensive property listed by Christie-s in the Carolinas, the $25 million Medway Plantation, located between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner on the Back River, near Charleston. Situated on almost 7,000 acres, this stunning property features a home built in 1686 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the Carolinas, just nine agencies have been able to obtain the coveted association with Christie-s. Their offices span from Cashiers in the North Carolina mountains to Bluffton on the South Carolina coast, and their average listing price is more than $5 million.
Both Christie-s and Sotheby-s agree that having representatives in the Carolinas has been a service to their companies as well as to their clients. Both predict their presence will grow stronger as people begin to associate their familiar names with real estate.
As Christie-s Aronson puts it, "Competition is vital. It-s healthy, but you know there will always be differences between us."
Sotheby-s in the Carolinas
Sotheby-s has been involved in the high-end real estate business internationally since the 1970s, but, when it combined forces with the Cendant Corporation in 2004, its profile rose astronomically.
In the Carolinas and Georgia, only three agencies carry the prestigious name: Prince George Sotheby-s International Realty in Pawleys Island, Celia Dunn Sotheby-s International Realty in Savannah and Bluffton and Cape Fear Sotheby-s International Realty in Wilmington and Topsail Beach, North Carolina. The honor of using that prestigious name is not obtained easily.
"When we license the name, the firm has to be one of the leading firms in their market area," explains Sotheby-s Eric Mangan. "In many cases, they are the leading firm. We are interested in being with those with a reputation of having access to exclusive homes in that region. Our vision statement is: ‘Artfully uniting extraordinary properties with extraordinary lives.-"
Prince George-s Carol Jayroe says that motto has been proven time and time again since her agency joined Sotheby-s. "We are so impressed with the integrity, professionalism and sophistication that Sotheby-s name brand brings to us," says Jayroe, adding that, "We have worldwide exposure and worldwide marketing. It gives our clients more global opportunities." Putting a name such as Sotheby-s on a home or estate instantly raises that home to a level above others, therefore raising the expectations of what lies within. Agents are careful to make sure the "trust, high value and excellence" credo is reflected in each of their listings. While Sotheby-s Realty functions separately from its auction house, there is crossover. Auction clients seeking a home know they can trust the Sotheby-s Realty name to find the caliber of property they want. Offerings in any given area are available for viewing on the company-s Web site at www.SothebysRealty.com.
Christie-s in the Carolinas
Christie-s Auction House first set its eyes on real estate in 1995, and the name it chose for this branch of the auction house says it all: Christie-s Great Estates. The aim was to go after some of the most discriminating properties in the world.
Since then, the company has grown to include 650 real estate offices and nearly 20,000 sales associates in more than 25 countries. As such, it claims to be the largest network of real estate brokers dedicated to the marketing and sale of important properties.
George McNeely, Christie-s senior vice president of Business Development, says it is only natural that Christie-s is now involved in real estate.
"The idea is that when our auction colleagues are dealing with clients and there are real estates needs, it makes sense to be able to refer them on to a network of highquality real estates brokers," says McNeely. In the two Carolinas and Georgia, just 11 agencies have been able to obtain the coveted association with Christie-s. Their offices span from Atlanta to Cashiers, North Carolina, but most agencies are located along the coast and handle some of the most coveted properties in the Southeast. The average price of a home listed is more than $5 million, while the most expensive is $25 million.
Each of those listings can be viewed through Christie-s Web site at www. ChristiesGreatEstates.com, where the minimum asking price of homes is $1 million. Information on the site is available to anyone in the world, so prospective buyers can shop from their home or office before contacting the agent handling the property.
Newest Christies Affiliate:
Vintage Estate Realty (843) 237 5553 - or toll free 877 237 5553
Cora Bett Thomas
Kiawah Island Real Estate
Lowcountry Real Estate
McKee Properties, Inc.
William Means Real Estate
Cottingham-Chalk & Associates, Inc.
York Simpson Underwood, LLC
SOTHEBY-S OFFICES IN THE CAROLINAS
Yost & Little Realty, Inc.
Celia Dunn Sotheby-s International Realty
Cape Fear Sotheby-s International Realty
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