The Engel & Völkers Americas conference, EVX Unlocked, which kicked off its main program on Monday in Las Vegas, had the vibe of a big party. It marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that the brokerage hosted its brokerage-wide in-person conference for agents and the atmosphere was celebratory.
Before the festivities began, however, the brokerage took a moment of silence to display the Ukrainian flag over the projector screen in solidarity with the country as it continues to fend off invasion by the Russian military.
After that, a raucous line of drummers donned in neon, glowing costumes hit the stage to set the tone. Then, Engel & Americas President and CEO Anthony Hitt took the stage to welcome agents back and asked them to text him personally with one word that described what they wanted to focus on this year.
“Money, perspective, persistence, health, joy, focusing on me, growth … these are all great,” Hitt said. “Then over the next couple of days, weeks, months, as you’re thinking about what you want to do [this year], think back on this word and ask ‘Does this jive?'”
Hitt highlighted the brokerage’s accomplishments since the last time the company met in person, noting that Engel & Völkers Americas had opened 81 new locations in the past two years and currently has 14 locations now under development that will open soon.
“One-third of the [Engel & Völkers] shops in the world now are in the Americas,” Hitt said.
Hitt said the brand was poised to surpass 6,000 advisers in the Americas with several weeks via its “slow and steady” growth method, which focuses on finding agents who fit well in the brand’s culture.
“We also have an industry leading retention rate of 76 percent … and that is exciting for us,” Hitt said.
He added that the average sale price for the Americas was $733,000 in 2021, and even with all the inventory shortages, “you’re representing more sellers than ever before.”
Hitt took the time to highlight success stories and inspiration from Engel & Völkers agents over the past year, like that of Martha Melendez, located on the Space Coast in Florida, who set the goal for herself to sell a property over $1 million in 2021, and ended up selling three over that price range.
He also highlighted a few agents doing excellent charitable work, including Roxann Taylor in Dallas who took on a Ukrainian intern immediately before the pandemic began, and continued to help them through the pandemic when travel back to Ukraine wasn’t a possibility, and even now as they’ve stayed on with Taylor in a permanent role at her shop.
“Not that this is why we do it, but those who are giving back to the community are also often the most successful people in the business,” Hitt said.
Hitt was also excited to tell agents that new, cutting-edge products and technology would be rolled out to agents in coming months, in a move towards systems that will help agents work more efficiently than they have in the past.
“This year, we will finally sunset some of our legacy systems and legacy partners,” Hitt said, “And finally be able to provide you products, systems, insights that are available to no other brand.
“We’re finally going to roll out a brand new digital consumer experience,” he explained further. “We want to be able to simplify your day, reduce transaction friction, and provide you with intelligence that no one in the industry has every done before … We’re not going to wait a year to give you these things, we’re going to give them to you as they roll out. There is a master plan and a road map — and we’re on it.”
Tom Kunz, the brand’s executive vice president, also made an appearance, recapping some of the challenges agents faced over the last year, and made predictions about what lies ahead for 2022. He noted that the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) anticipated 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loans just above 4 percent and that inflation would continue to be “one of the boogeymans in the background.”
“Having said all of that, what I think we really need to focus on are lead management systems,” Kunz said. “And above all, communication. You need to go out and talk to people, build the rapport with the people in your communities … try to get six sides of business out of one transaction.”
“Don’t let the naysayers get to you because the fact of the matter is, the market is fine.”
Sven Odia, CEO of Engel & Völkers, flew in from Hamburg, Germany, for the event, and had positive reports on the brand’s performance overall in 2021.
“I have to say it was another record-breaking year globally,” Odia told the audience. “To achieve more than €1.28 billion in income is amazing…”
Looking towards 2022, Odia said he was “quite bullish” despite his “shock” about the current situation in Ukraine.
Odia and Hitt also briefly discussed their new majority stakeholder, Permira, which was announced in August, and seems to be working well thus far.
“You surprised us last year when you announced we had a new primary shareholder in Permira,” Hitt said.
“As you all know … it’s the most important thing to create the best environment for the company, so we’re really happy about this situation [with Permira],” Odia said. “What was really important for [Engel & Völkers Founder] Christian Völkers and myself was they really understand the brand … and also the spirit of the company.”
He also made sure to give a special shoutout to the Americas for their performance over the last year.
“Fifty-five percent of our net growth is coming from the United States,” Odia said. “So you’re doing an amazing job here … so it’s part of our success story for the future and for Permira.”
Odia also surprised the audience by announcing the brand’s launch of a line of ski equipment, some of which will be donated to the Special Olympics.
“I think it’s one of the coolest things we’ve done in the last couple of months, to create the first Engel & Völkers ski collection,” Odia said. “So maybe it’s not the right marketing tool for Florida or other beach markets, but for Aspen and some other markets it makes a lot of sense.”