SIXTY days ago Paul Arthur took on the challenge of expanding the centuries old Sotheby's brand into the Gold Coast property market. As of today, he is also taking on the rest of Queensland.
Arthur (pictured), who spent 30 years as a shipping and logistic executive in the US and Asia, has just signed a Queensland franchise agreement for Sotheby's International Realty with a plan to roll out the upmarket brand across the state.
Arthur concedes there is strong competition in the upper end of the market, but he is confident the Sotheby's brand will take pole position within the niche.
He has devoted the past two months to establishing the back-room operations for Sotheby's International Realty's Bundall headquarters to handle the expected growth.
"The brand is starting to get out there," says Arthur. "I have spent a lot of time getting the back of the house right for us, so that when we launch and business activity builds we have a great platform to service the business and our clients."
Arthur's move to take on the Queensland franchise for the group stemmed from his decision to enlist Sydney's Sotheby's International Realty's head Michael Pallier to sell his Point Piper home last year. Arthur was selling to move to the Gold Coast.
Pallier, who has just posted a record year for Sotheby's International Realty in Sydney, urged Arthur to take the brand to Queensland, a move that required a rigorous six-month due diligence of the former US-based executive.
The UK-born Sotheby's brand, established in 1744, has long been associated with auction of prized art and family heirlooms.
In 1976, Sotheby's expanded into real estate and the New York-based group has since snared 27 per cent market share in the US. This compares with Australia's largest player Ray White which has 10 per cent of the national real estate market.
Arthur says Sotheby's International Realty plans to go 'as deep as we need to' in the Queensland market which is benefitting from growing interest from offshore buyers.
While Chinese buyers have been front row players in the real estate game, Arthur says the falling dollar is also attracting more Aussie expats, particularly from Hong Kong, Singapore and London, to their home market.
Arthur is reluctant to describe Sotheby's International Realty's listings purely by price point, with properties currently on his books ranging from $700,000 to $20 million.
"They certainly need to be a property of distinction and a level of quality," he says.
"When a buyer purchases a Sotheby's property there's a certain correlation between our brand and a certain quality.
"We've got some unbelievable iconic properties stretching up and down the Queensland coast from far north Queensland right down to Byron Bay."
Arthur says the Sotheby's International Realty's point of difference also rests with a 'true national and international reach', thanks to a network of 18,000 agents in 825 offices globally.
"There is no other real estate company that has the connected global network that we do.
"In today's world, the buyer can be literally around the corner or the other side of the world and we have the ability to use our databases and find those buyers in all corners of the world.
"A Sotheby's customer is typically a global customer, typically a high net worth and ultra-high net worth individual with multiple properties around the world.
"A lot of our clients who have $10-$12 million and $20 million properties have a lot of investment properties in that million-dollar range. Our duty is to service the client not just the individual property."
Arthur is planning to launch into Brisbane in 2016 with an aggressive campaign, and later expand the Queensland network to Noosa, the Whitsundays and Cairns.
"The timing to expand Sotheby's International Realty operations to the Gold Coast and throughout Queensland has never been better.
"We have extreme confidence in the Gold Coast region, acknowledging the inherent domestic and international appeal of this market."
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