Luxury homebuyers in Europe don't necessarily work with agents in real estate offices.
If they're clients of Hamburg, Germany-based Engel & Volkers, they visit one of the international firm's 490 "lounges."
There only are three in California -- Los Angeles, Brentwood and Westlake Village -- but that will change later this month when Evergreen Realty in Solana Beach transitions to the Engel & Volkers brand and becomes the fourth.
Opportunity came knocking about four months ago for Evergreen principals and veteran Realtors Michael Hannon (left) and Quentin Smith.
"We were tapped on the shoulder by Engel & Volkers," Smith said. "They came to us and said, 'Your name keeps coming up at the top of our list of people we should talk to. We have a huge amount of people who would like to come to California as an investment because with the euro situation the way it is, you get zero percent on your investment in [Germany].'
"So we cut a deal last Halloween to effectively be partners with this international real estate company," he added.
Engel & Volkers' arrangement specifies just one lounge per ZIP code. After Solana Beach, Hannon and Smith plan to open new lounges in Carlsbad Village, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe.
"It's an area half the size of Switzerland and includes some of the most expensive real estate in the world," Hannon said. "E&V emphasizes hyper-localism and really touts the agents in the office not competing directly with one another, but actually working together to designate properties that are large enough that they can get the transaction volume and price to where they can make a very, very good living.
"They become the expert in that area and the goal is not have three E&V agents showing up for the listing, like the competition does. The lounge is not a place for agents to hang out but to bring clients in for very specific purposes."
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