- Coldwell Banker is retiring Previews International and introducing the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury brand for its top agents.
- As part of the rebranding, the company is rolling out a new training program and certification.
Luxury buyers pulled the American real estate market out of the post-2008 recession, says Coldwell Banker president and CEO Charlie Young, and in many cases it was international consumers leading the way.
Now, more Americans are making their presence felt in the national luxury market, but having a global reach and good communication channels across international lines is crucial for luxury agents, said the company president.
Coldwell Banker luxury agents sell $130 million a day globally in 49 countries, and in 2016 sold over 25,000 $1 million-plus properties in the U.S. As such, the time has come to retire its 85-year-old Previews International for a more internationally friendly brand, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
The Coldwell Banker Global Luxury program includes enhancements to the brand’s luxury certification program, a new global luxury website, worldwide distribution of its Homes + Estates magazine, global networking opportunities and an in-depth training program.
The new site will connect 750,000 luxury agents across multiple international brands and syndicate listings globally to real estate portals while offering agents a LinkedIn-style communication channel where they can make direct, real time contact with luxury agents around the world.
The strategy behind the rebranding
With this move, which has taken two years of planning, Coldwell Banker aims to maintain and forge more leadership in the luxury area, said Young.
Other brands have emerged in luxury market since the recession — boutique brokerages and fellow Realogy brands such as Sotheby’s International Realty, he said.
“In 2017, with luxury fueling the market post-recession, a lot of people are wanting to play in that space, so it’s very strategic to shore up our position and set a new standard,” he said.
Some say Coldwell Banker luxury agents in Beverly Hills have bristled a little at losing the Previews International brand, which started there.
“Whenever you do changes like this, you’ll always get opinions,” said Young. “I have been pleased and surprised with the almost universal acceptance, excitement and the recognition that it’s a global market place now.
“There’s also been feedback from the highest producing luxury agents that the Previews brand and Coldwell Banker brand sometimes worked in competition, and they would rather go with just one brand name.”
Aspen-based top producer, Carrie Wells, an affiliate broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, who was involved in the rebranding exercise, agrees. She added that the Previews brand wasn’t as sophisticated as it could have been.
“This will be a much better brand — it simplifies things and tells the story of what we do,” she said.
Wells likes the transferable side of the new program, too. She will often find clients are buying in more than one market, and she can now help connect them with colleagues in other countries or states more easily through Global Luxury’s new website.
“When I’m with a client of mine and they mention they are also looking in Hawaii, I now have the opportunity to connect them with the same level of broker as I am,” she said.
Agents will also gain access to an inter-agent communication channel from the website, which they can use to make contact in real time.
No longer will they have to wonder who to refer in France or in Italy; they can find out through a video message and look at one another’s marketing materials. Every listing will have a downloadable high-resolution brochure that can be shared with clients.
Immersive training is part of the new program
Wells is also looking forward to being involved with the new training program as one of its top instructors.
“In this case, we’ll be bringing in interior designers, for instance, to speak,” she said. “There are so many aspects that you need to be knowledgeable about … what are the trends, the mindset of how to present, how to look; it’s not just about having data and knowledge.”
Craig Hogan, VP of Luxury for Coldwell Banker, also highlights the training going hand-in-hand with the rebranding. “One thing the agents appreciate is the fact that we have put a program together; it’s not just a logo, not just a sign, but a program,” Hogan said.
“Our associates have the opportunity, six times this year, to be in a room with proven sales people. Our top associates are required to sell in the top 5 percent of the market. They are agents that are earning $6 million or $7 million a year.”
The experience will be very immersive, Hogan said. Those in the training program will see luxury agent Jade Mills stand up and do her listing presentation and argue its merits to a live audience.
“Everyone is forced to stand up and present a marketing plan to the room and boy, does that separate the group,” he added.
Attendees will also get a close look at the global side of the business, to meet some of the global players, see the PR machine behind the scenes and have a better understanding of what to do when they win a very special listing.
Agents will have to qualify to get into one of the day-and-a-half long courses. They will need to be selling in the top 10 percent of their local market — in most cases, $1 million-plus properties.