Sotheby’s International Realty blew its previously held global sales volume record out of the water in 2021, the Realogy brand announced on Tuesday, by increasing its global sales volume by 36 percent year over year to $204 billion.
In 2020, the company netted $150 billion in global sales, its highest sales record at that time. Therefore, this marks the first year the brand has crossed the $200 billion threshold.
In the U.S. alone, Sotheby’s sales volume increased by 33.8 percent year over year, outpacing the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) nationally reported increase in sales volume of 20.6 percent year over year, according to a statement.
The company’s banner year was primarily driven by the resurgence of real estate activity in cities, as well as agents’ dedication, Sotheby’s International CEO Philip White told Inman.
“What happened that really propelled 2021 was the resurgence in the urban markets,” White said.
“That’s what we really saw take off. We still had a lot of activity in the second- and third-home market where we have a lot of market share in those markets, the really high-end resort markets. But we saw Manhattan come back really strong, we saw really the best market we’ve ever seen in San Francisco, we saw a very strong market in Los Angeles, a lot of multiple bids. Miami was very, very strong.”
Secondarily, White said buyers were propelled by continued remote work flexibility, which opened up their homebuying options.
“The secondary theme was, people are kind of getting used to long-term, hybrid working,” he said. “Working from home, and buying a different house, buying a bigger house, buying a house, in some cases, further away than maybe they would have bought [pre-pandemic] because they don’t have to commute that much.”
Other markets that benefited from second home and resort market trends included other parts of Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, Australia, Spain, Switzerland, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico.
The brand also saw a rise in popularity in locations that have tax benefits and plenty of open space, like Texas and Wyoming.
Sotheby’s opening of 86 new offices globally over the course of the year for a total of more than 1,000 offices across 79 countries and territories helped its global referral network to thrive in 2021. The network’s referral sales volume increased almost 80 percent year over year with the average sales price of referrals increasing 21 percent year over year.
“In 2021, the brand opened offices in five new territories and our international sales volume grew by 56 percent year over year,” Tammy Fahmi, senior vice president of global servicing and strategy for Sotheby’s International Realty, said in a statement. “Our global presence is a draw for our agents and clients and we continue to evaluate markets that will support our strategic growth.”
The company opened new international offices in 2021 in Oman, Morocco, the Swiss Alps, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
On the marketing side, the luxury brand also benefited from the most visits to its website in its history, at more than 46 million visitors over the course of 2021, a 25 percent increase year over year. The 25th Annual Webby Awards also named Sotheby’s International Realty’s website the Best Real Estate Website in the People’s Choice Category, “so we were very proud of that,” White told Inman.
Property videos produced by Sotheby’s agents were played nearly 90 million times during 2021, a press release stated, a 50 percent increase year over year, as buyers continued to rely on online content first to learn about a property.
Another highlight for the brand in 2021 was winning Top Luxury Brokerage by Inman at Inman Connect Las Vegas, inducting the brand into Inman’s Golden I Club.
“As a brand, we have always sought out to establish the highest standard for marketing luxury properties and I am proud that our marketing and technology investments have been recognized as the ‘best’ in the industry in 2021,” Bradley Nelson, Sotheby’s International Realty’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
Overall, the biggest takeaway Sotheby’s received from 2021 was that people continue to prioritize where they live, White said.
“That’s what’s really propelling the market,” he explained. “Even some markets that were maybe a little slower in years past, this pandemic has really changed the attitude about living in some of the markets outside of New York City or outside of San Francisco, and even further out. And I think it’s a great thing — because prior to that, the activity was more centralized in the big cities, but now it’s spread out and I think it’s been a very good thing for the economy.”