Coldwell Banker’s largest franchise business and the country’s 17th largest real estate company — Seattle-based Coldwell Banker Bain — is giving a separate platform to Coldwell Banker’s Global Luxury brand with its own office in Seattle’s neighboring city, Bellevue.
Due to open on July 1, it will have its own state-of-the-art retail space in the upmarket Bellevue Lincoln Square shopping center and be aptly named Coldwell Banker Bain Lincoln Square.
Bill Riss, the CEO and owner of Coldwell Banker Bain, has appointed Jennifer Johnsen Cameron — formerly VP of brand development at Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty — to head the new luxury operation as Global Luxury director and principle managing broker of Coldwell Banker Bain Lincoln Square.
This will be the flagship office for Global Luxury and Coldwell Banker Bain’s 33rd office. With 1,200 brokers in Washington and Oregon, Coldwell Banker Bain had a sales volume in 2017 of around $6.7 billion, and Biss said that about 25 percent of the business’s sales volume is in the global luxury category.
Coldwell Banker’s Global Luxury brand replaced Previews International in April last year, the change bringing with it its own website, in-depth training in luxury real estate with certification and better global networking opportunities.
The introduction of Global Luxury last year was perfect timing, said Riss, who said he was going to set up something himself, unhappy with the Previews concept that had gotten tired.
“I don’t have the resources like Realogy or Compass, this really was an affirmation and commitment to the global luxury market,” Riss said. “It was really about leveraging that and taking it to the next level.”
After the flagship Lincoln Square office, many other Global Luxury offices will follow in the greater Seattle area, Johnsen Cameron said. Johnsen Cameron said there were desks for around 50 agents at Lincoln Square. A founding group of agents from CBB will be transitioning to Global Luxury, including Beth Billington, Lisa Whittaker, Christi Clark Anastasia Miles, Trey Danna and Shelly Zhou, she said.
“It makes perfect sense to go where the market at is going,” Cameron added as so many international buyers and locally based executives are setting their sights on the Seattle property market.
These agents will be given a concierge level of service for them and their clients, said the new Global Luxury director.
“CBB has also set up an extensive ad agency model in-house to service our brokers with anything and everything they may need for marketing support and customization,” she said.
It’s not just the location, everything has been elevated, said Riss.
Brokers who service the luxury market have a depth of skills, said Johnsen Cameron. And their clients have high expectations from their real estate advisers, they have very busy lives, they want to know when they come to a real estate agent that they not only know real estate but have the connections to make sure that they have everything necessary for them, she said.
“Their clients are sophisticated and expect their brokers to perform as advisers, often dealing with financial planners, lawyers and orchestrating complicated moves with discretion. Luxury properties require sophisticated marketing and global exposure,” she said.
Riss said CBB would be sharing its experiences in the new venture with other Coldwell Banker brokerages and head office. More Global Luxury offices to come would be conversions, others would be new ones or acquisitions, he said.
And if a downturn happens, the luxury market is going to be less sensitized to that than first-home buyers, so Riss is not worried about talk of a correction or recession in 2020.