Last month, Engel & Völkers Americas put industry stalwart Stuart Siegel in charge of company strategy for growth, mergers, and acquisitions. In his new role as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Siegel will put years of leadership excellence into play during perhaps the industry’s most trying time in decades. Siegel’s career has focused on luxury real estate, development, and strategic consulting. Before Engel & Völkers, he served as the President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Siegel, who was instrumental in expanding the company’s New York City brokerage and its Global Development Services, is a “go-to” entrepreneur to preserve profits even in the most critical and competitive market conditions. Fortunately, he managed to spare RealtyBizNews some of his time for the Q&A below.
RealtyBiz: While it's clear Engel & Völkers Americas can weather almost any storm, how will the luxury segment need to adjust for an apparent recession?
Stuart Siegel: The luxury segment is interesting to navigate because these transactions are more likely to be discretionary, handled in cash, and based in different states, territories, or countries. These purchasers and sellers are motivated by factors beyond traditional real estate market dynamics, like the performance of other asset classes or even exchange rates. Clients in this segment can afford to think strategically and long-term.
At the same time, like all consumers, they are influenced by the headlines right in front of them--if it doesn’t appear to be an excellent time to purchase or sell, they often stay on the sidelines. Advisors working in the luxury segment need to consider trends and data incorporating a broader economic perspective and span a longer timeframe. Understanding and credibly presenting opportunities and potential outcomes is key to motivating these clients to take sensible actions as the rest of the market slows down.
It’s also important to remember that these clients can afford to prioritize lifestyle - when they have the opportunity to purchase a truly one-of-a-kind property that fits what they’ve been looking for - they can and should take advantage of that. That’s why the level of referrals and collaboration in our global network is so valuable. If a rare gem comes on the market, even an ocean or more away, our advisors will know about it. Hence the global increase in trophy home sales that continues despite the market slowdown.
RealtyBiz: Do you see the current economic situation as a huge setback? Or, are there opportunities for Engel & Völkers to expand its presence?
Stuart Siegel: I certainly see it as an opportunity. I’ve always said that great brokers are made in difficult markets. The most well-trained, hard-working and professional agents have an opportunity to demonstrate real value and grow their businesses in challenging and uncertain times. The same is true of organizations - if your brand (or company) is centered around supporting real estate agents in serving their sellers and buyers exceptionally well, and your culture is focused on collaboration and constant improvement, you were made for markets like this.
RealtyBiz: How will you help individual shops not just cope but to thrive in what could be an uncertain bear market?
Stuart Siegel: The way to thrive, pardon the cliché, is to keep calm and carry on. Double down on the fundamentals and be ready to go above and beyond to get the deal done. If you know your community and your clients, and you understand how to market, interpret data and negotiate with integrity, you can not only succeed but gain experience and raving fans in the process. Fortunately, this is exactly what Engel & Völkers is all about. Our focus on providing tools, training, and systems that support specialization, distinctive marketing, expertise and professionalism has allowed us to grow steadily over the years, regardless of market conditions.
RealtyBiz: Recently, you talked about "an exciting inflection point in the company’s trajectory." Can you give us an example of how the curve of Engel & Völkers future growth?
Stuart Siegel: As always, we are not looking at growth for growth's sake--it’s not about putting numbers on the board as quickly as we can, but growing in a way that improves rather than compromises our business and what it stands for. In my role, I’m fully focused on taking advantage of opportunities of all kinds that are a win for our brand and our network overall. We plan to grow the benefits we offer and strengthen our commitment to who we are as a brand community, alongside growing our footprint.
Engel & Völkers Americas' new CSO has spent his career, so far, in luxury real estate, development, and strategic consulting. Formerly the President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty and the President and COO of Brunello Development Corp., Siegel also founded Ore Hill Advisors, which specialized in consulting services to luxury companies, family offices, and private investors in the luxury property sector. Siegel is also a sought-after mentor and coach and a top industry expert at marketing and revenue generation.