The people of Sotheby’s International Realty certainly know how to give homes the red-carpet treatment. The ultra-modern and absolutely stunning $35 million Glass Pavilion by Steve Hermann in Montecito, Calif., has become the trending topic of conversations among architectural votaries and potential homebuyers, thanks to impressive media exposure on Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Real Estate, and the likes—which is thanks to the people of Sotheby’s International Realty. “When I came to the company about the property, they jumped on board to get the listing out to these media outlets,” says Montecito agent Suzanne Perkins.
While signs of recovery look bleak for housing markets across the nation, Sotheby’s International Realty’s growth remarkably continues to be steady and stable, particularly on the West Coast. “Overall, unit sales for the first half of this year are ahead of last year’s,” says Frank Symons, executive vice president and COO of the company’s Western Region.
Los Angeles-native Symons owned and operated his own real estate company before joining Sotheby’s International Realty in 1995. He then created the first Western Region office in Beverly Hills. “The first thing we did was take over a space previously occupied by a bank, which we remodeled and rebuilt as a real estate office, hiring a core group of agents who are still with us. Then we opened a second location in San Francisco before moving on to Brentwood. That was our initial growth,” Symons says.
Through a steady rate of start-ups and acquisitions, Sotheby’s International Realty’s Western Region has grown to also include the greater Los Angeles area, Montecito/Santa Barbara, Carmel/Monterey, Ventura County, San Francisco, Sonoma, and Santa Fe, N.M.
The Western Region now represents many of the most luxurious stunners scattered along the Pacific Coast Highway, including an 8-room, $22 million Carmel splendor anchored directly into the rocky shoreline with panoramic views from Point Lobos to Pebble Beach and an 8-bedroom, 8-bath, $40 million Malibu behemoth split into two side-by-side beachfront gated homes.
Sotheby’s International Realty simply commands the real estate market from SoCal to NorCal. “People looking to buy or sell in each of our markets within the region look to us,” says Symons. Yet the Western Region has also made transactions by way of the company’s other branches and affiliates across the country. “It’s not unusual for a client who has a home in Manhattan to also want a property in Malibu,” Symons says. “Recently, we had a referral to Malibu from Atlanta.”
The Western Region has grown to include luxury developments among its listings in addition to traditional home sales. It has exclusively listed two high-end projects in Los Angeles—the opulent 20-unit Montage Residences Beverly Hills and the hip, modernized Residences at W Hollywood. “We always try to be responsive to the clients’ needs, and representing these properties provided an exciting new opportunity to do just that,” Symons explains. “We’ve always represented the most luxurious homes and condos in Los Angeles. Developers saw the value of our global exposure and approached us. Would we take on other luxury projects in the region? Of course we would. If we can service the projects at the level that we should, we will take them on.”
Symons credits much of the company’s success to conventional rapport and customer service. “One of the best things we do is the level of service we provide to our clients.” Bestowing that highest level of service to clients means the company has to offer the right support to the agents. “Though I’m based in Beverly Hills, I frequently visit all other offices to keep abreast of the needs of our agents, who in turn really stay on top of the needs of our clients,” says Symons.
Sunset Strip agent Russ Filice appreciates Symons’ support. “There is no better leader, friend, or colleague than Frank Symons,” he says. “His leadership and professionalism are one of Sotheby’s International Realty’s greatest assets.”