“The U.S. business grew faster than the overall market partly due to pent-up demand in the luxury space and some very strong operating franchisees.”

A strong global economy led to Sotheby’s International Realty (SIR) booking $108 billion in sales volume in 2017, an annual sales volume record for the luxury real estate brand, the company reported this month. The Realogy franchisor spanning 69 countries was able to leverage that international economic expansion to post $96 billion in sales stateside, up 14.5 percent from $85 billion in 2016, and $12 billion in overseas transactions, up from $10 billion the year prior.

“The U.S. business grew faster than the overall market partly due to pent-up demand in the luxury space and some very strong operating franchisees,” said CEO and president Phillip White, speaking to Inman.

White added that he thought SIR had achieved more success than Realogy ever expected when it bought the license of the SIR name in 2004 from Sotheby’s auction house with the goal of developing a franchise system.

“A lot of it has to do with being a great brand and having brand name awareness,” White said. “And in the last 14 years, we were able to couple ourselves together with some good operators — many of whom have taken advantage of the brand.”

Two years ago, SIR created a global referral system among its Sotheby’s affiliates and last year the company recorded $1.3 billion worth of referrals, said White.

The Sotheby’s global network grew to 950 offices and 22,000 sales associates worldwide in 2017. In the States, it added six independent brokerages to its franchise network, which brought in 58 new offices. The luxury brokerage brand entered several U.S. markets this year including Roseville, California; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; and Greater Greenville, South Carolina.

White said SIR operates in every major metro in the U.S., and the focus has been on helping its existing companies grow. He and his team at the head office were busy supporting its existing franchisees’ expansion in 2017, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area; Castle Rock, Colorado; and Southern Florida.

He recently helped San Diego franchise Pacific SIR structure a deal to acquire Hom SIR in February, which will extend Pacific SIR’s reach north from the Mexican border along the Southern California coast into Orange County and east into Palm Springs, Indian Wells and La Quinta. Pacific SIR is now one of the largest Sotheby’s franchises in the global network, with a total of over 900 agents in 32 offices.

SothebysRealty.com homepage

Overseas, meanwhile, SIR grew its presence in Spain, Belgium, Greece and India and sold the rights to the future presence of the SIR brand in Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The company reported its website, sothebysrealty.com, saw a 25 percent increase in visits year-over-year to 27 million with 60 percent of visitors to the site coming from outside the U.S.

Email Gill South.

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