International

Sotheby’s International Realty enters Dubai with 25-year master franchise agreement

Franchisor calls move 'a key step forward' in plans for Middle East expansion

Sotheby’s International Realty, the luxury brand owned and managed by real estate giant Realogy, has signed a 25-year master franchise agreement to enter the United Arab Emirates with its first office opening next month in Dubai.

The agreement with Prime Realty Ltd. will develop the brand as Dubai Sotheby’s International Realty throughout the seven “emirates,” or territories, of the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation, including the capital, Abu Dhabi. The brand’s first office in the country will open in Dubai next to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

“Dubai is a strategically important market for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand and this signing represents a key step forward in our overall growth plans across the Middle East,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, in a statement.

Dubai Sotheby’s International Realty will be headed up by Managing Director Billy Rautenbach, whose 28 years in real estate includes nine years in Dubai. Eric Roche, who spent nearly a decade at Sotheby’s International Realty in its Manhattan East Side brokerage office in New York City, will be director of international sales and development.

Sotheby’s International Realty now has 13,000 sales associates in 670 offices in 49 countries and territories around the world and operates the global website sothebysrealty.com, where the new listings from Dubai and elsewhere in the country will be advertised.

Realogy, which also manages the Coldwell Banker Real Estate and Century 21 Real Estate brands, has been on a global growth spurt recently. In September, Coldwell Banker signed a franchise agreement to grow the brand in India, and earlier this month Century 21 entered Austria, Croatia, Kosovo and Slovenia.

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In September, Century 21 launched a global website that aggregates listings that the brand’s affiliated brokers represent worldwide, providing translations between 16 languages and 36 currencies. It’s the first global website powered by real estate listings translation and hosting service Immobel that Realogy is set to roll out for all of its international brands.

Other franchisors have been busy in the international space, too.

Re/Max, which went public in September and was named the top global real estate franchisor by Franchise Times with $7.4 billion in annual sales in 2012, signed a master franchise agreement in Japan earlier this month.

Austin, Texas-based franchisor Keller Williams Realty, which claims to have more agents affiliated with its brand in the U.S. and Canada than any other real estate franchise, recently opened shop in the United Kingdom, and has franchise agreements in Austria, Germany, Indonesia, southern Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and Vietnam.