Real estate industry

Technology, cross-border teamwork and vacation markets are driving real estate, says industry vice president

Few have such a broad overview as Tammy Fahmi of how the pandemic has affected residential real estate agents around the world.

Ms. Fahmi is Vice President of Global Operations and International Services at Sotheby’s International Realty, where she oversees an extensive franchise network spanning some 75 countries, from Tasmania, Australia, to Texas Hill Country, and new locations in South Korea.

The disruption from the pandemic cannot be overstated, crippling the housing market in the early days of the crisis, then forcing an entire industry to adapt to new regulations and a greater reliance on technology. But the past year has also offered the company and its thousands of member agents the opportunity to improve the way they work, both with clients and with each other, said Ms Fahmi, who was previously a lawyer. general of the company.

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“A key driver for us was really our international footprint, it’s a key differentiator for us in the luxury real estate world,” she said. “This has enabled us and our network to move business forward, fueling references from one territory to another. “

Such collaboration and a sudden rush to buy a home, spurred by working from home and immediate lifestyle needs, drove Sotheby’s International Realty’s global sales volume to a record $ 150 billion. , a 32% year-over-year increase, she said.

Ms Fahmi shared more thoughts on the past year, global trends and luxury centers on the horizon, and a very encouraging definition of luxury.

Mansion Global: Compared to a year ago, how has sentiment changed among Sotheby’s International Realty member agents?

Tammy Fahmi: Our affiliates and agents really looked to the brand to guide them and provide them with the tools they needed to help them get through the pandemic, as well as to help their customers get through it.

People were looking for brands that have a great reputation and great endurance, and Sotheby’s International Realty has both. This is something that we have certainly seen. And I think we’ve seen that our commitment to technology has really helped our network, because we really focused early on on the importance of technology. We were the first to use high-resolution photos and videos – we were focusing on the virtual even before the pandemic. So it all came together to help our agents quickly adapt to hosting virtual tours.

Buyers can view over 6,000 properties in virtual reality or video on So I think our network appreciated that and really took advantage of these technological innovations.

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MG: Was the company able to expand its presence during the pandemic?

TF: In 2020, we expanded into seven new territories. In Europe, we have extended the brand to Kiev, Ukraine; Bucharest, Romania; Porto, Montenegro and Stuttgart, Germany. Then in the Asia-Pacific region, we’re super excited because we’ve opened in Seoul, South Korea; then in the Caribbean and Latin America, we opened two additional territories there, one in Paraguay and another in Antigua and Barbuda.

MG: In your opinion, what purchasing trends will define the coming year?

TF: We see that bigger is definitely better these days. People want space and they want bigger properties that can be quarantined. And they’re definitely looking for more amenities like zoom rooms, home offices, gourmet kitchens because everyone does a lot more home cooking, gyms, and things that can help with recreation.

MG: Which cities or regions do you see as emerging luxury hotspots?

TF: The waterfront and other scenic areas are more attractive than ever, and we have seen key areas where we have seen top notch real estate happening, one is Auckland, New Zealand. They have seen one of the most dramatic increases in the prices of luxury homes of any city in the world. I think we’ve all read the awesome response they got to Covid which of course made ownership more attractive there.

Second, we have seen that Singapore is a very popular destination for Asian buyers and even beyond Asian buyers. It is another place which has a status of refuge. We have also seen an increase in technological interest in Singapore. They have been ranked as the # 1 tech hub in Asia due to their infrastructure, government support, intellectual property laws, and sizable talent pool. In fact, our subsidiary in Singapore, List Sotheby’s International Realty, just made some interesting sales there north of US $ 20 million.

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MG: What surprised you the most about the real estate market this year?

TF: Perhaps most noticeable is how we’ve found that the resort and second home markets really do attract a lot of full-time residents.

This trend is evident across the country. We have people who maintain full time residences in Naples, Florida; Asheville, North Carolina; Montecito, California.

[Recently], I was just on the phone with our branch in Turks and Caicos — it’s not limited to the United States — and our branch there, he was commenting on the incredibly high demand they see there. He’s been in the business for a number of years and he said he just never saw a higher demand, and that they are setting record prices there as well. It is a very interesting phenomenon.

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MG: What would your dream house look like?

TF: For me, without a doubt, this is a property that overlooks the ocean and has beach access, like the Amalfi Coast, the Caribbean, the Red Sea – any place that has a sense of other cultures mixed with it. ocean and beach. It’s the perfect combination for me.

MG: What’s your favorite part of your house?

TF: Definitely the spaces where you can get together as a family. We have a fairly large family, and our home tends to be the place to gather, whether it’s around a large tree in the family room at Christmas or in the kitchen, like most families. My mom is an amazing cook and I love to learn from and cook with her, so we all tend to come together around the good, great food in the kitchen.

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MG: Luxury is often overused work, how do you define it?

TF: This word is so widespread, and I think it means something different to different people. For me personally, that means having the luxury of living near my family. My parents, in-laws, brother and his family all live within walking distance of our home. So home takes on a bigger meaning to me – which is family and raising children with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and having the space to reunite our family and enjoy the company of others, whether outside, back to the pool or in the kitchen.

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