The German-founded Engel & Völkers is setting its sights on U.S. expansion plans that will grow its presence across the country.
It’s a continuation of the company’s aggressive expansion, which began in 2015 and continues this year into Arkansas, Indiana and Maryland, with additional offices in California, Washington, Idaho and Colorado, where it already operates.
“We’ve really been in this kind of expansion mode since 2015,” Anthony Hitt, Engel & Völkers’ U.S. CEO told Inman. “We’ve been growing very steadily, very stably in good markets since 2015.”
In 2019, Engel & Völkers will open new offices in Napa/St. Helena, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; a joint office covering Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Indianapolis, Indiana; Annapolis, Maryland and Telluride, Colorado.
Engel & Völkers expansion model has been to follow the model of where their clients are. It started in Hamburg, Germany in 1977, then expanded throughout the country. Then came German vacation spots like Mallorca, Spain and South Africa.
Its entrance into the United States came in Florida, which had a connection to New York, which had a connection to California and so on until the company reached national coverage.
“We’re always looking, as we expand our network, how does this market relate to the other shops that we have, not only in the Americas but globally,” Hitt said “Where are international buyers and sellers coming from and where are domestic buyers and sellers coming from? That really drives it.”
Finding the right partner also drives expansion. The brokerage owner needs to be someone looking to grow, someone with a shared mindset of Engel & Völkers’ value proposition – exclusivity, luxury and a bespoke client experience.
“I’m not a big believer in putting dots on a map,” Hitt said. “What I have found, in building a culture and a network, if you try to mix completely different mindsets and completely different business models and completely different ideals, you end up with a mess.”
Hitt said there’s also a common misconception that there’s only three ways to build a brokerage or brand: buy it, build it or recruit it. Engel & Völkers builds brokerages through attracting talent, he added.
“It’s creating something special, with that shared mindset, where people want to be a part of it,” Hitt said. “We don’t write big checks for people to become our franchises. We don’t buy brokerages. We don’t write checks to recruit agents or agent teams.”
Hitt isn’t worried that this expansion will water-down the luxury name either. Yes, in Europe, Engel & Völkers is a castle specialist and in New York City, they have sold luxury condos in the 432 Park Avenue high rise. But there are luxury properties in Little Rock and Annapolis too, Hitt said.
“Luxury means different things to different people,” Hitt said. “There is room for us in a lot of markets.”
He’s also not worried that this voracious expansion is coming at a time when the market is turning and fewer homes are being sold.
“I’m a big believer that properties will sell in ‘good’ or ‘bad’ markets,” Hitt said. “Business is going to be transacted in the real estate space and there’s always going to be a consumer that wants to work with a specialist that’s an expert at what they do.”
Engel & Völkers has more than 11,000 agents worldwide, operating out of more than 800 locations. In the Americas, the company has approximately 160 shop locations and more than 3,000 agents.