Luxury realtor Sotheby’s setting up shop in Jamaica

The Gleaner - Steven Jackson

 Luxury auction and realty brand Sotheby’s International has registered a real estate firm in Jamaica, official data from the Companies Office of Jamaica indicates.

The island is set to become the latest country to carry the brand, which operates in over 74 countries and territories and boasts a 24,000-strong sales force while doing, it says, US$150 billion in real estate sales and rentals each year.

Sotheby’s prides itself on selling luxury for the rich and exclusivity for the wealthy and carries some of the most upscale and pricey properties around the world on its websites. Some Jamaican properties are being marketed by Sotheby’s Canada.

Jamaica Sotheby’s International Realty was registered in July this year. The company seems to still be in the developmental stages and is not listed among the more than 230 entities that are registered to conduct realty services in Jamaica as named on the website if the Realtors Association of Jamaica, RAJ. Industry sources say Sotheby’s may not yet have signed up with the RAJ but the Real Estate Board, which regulates the trade, says the company is registered with than entity in the name of its local franchise Reside Realty

There is still no information on the parent site about the local franchise, shares in which are held by holding company Reside Realty. Reside’s shareholders are real estate agent Julian Dixon, who owns at 51 per cent, and Diverze Properties Limited with 49 per cent, according to Companies Office of Jamaica records.

Three Reside directors hold board positions on the Sotheby’s local franchise. They are Dixon, along with businessmen Alexander Melville and Daniel Melville. The Melvilles, through Diverze, are affiliated with Tropical Battery Limited and Chukka Caribbean Adventures.

Dixon and the Diverze directors did not immediately respond to questions from the Financial Gleaner about the new entity.

Sotheby’s International already operates realty services in some Caribbean countries including The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, St Barthelemy, Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St Martin, St Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The upscale property sales and rental brand is entering Jamaica as the real estate market continues to grow, with properties experiencing good price appreciation as billions of dollars in investment funds are poured into real estate acquisitions and development. The construction sector, which includes real estate, grew 18 per cent in the June 2021 quarter, higher than the 12.9 per cent growth experienced by the wider economy.

The growth trend reflects continued expansion in housing construction during the pandemic. Most other sectors of the economy are recovering from 2020 lows, while real estate never faltered. Prices are rising and so are new luxury developments, some of which are testing new highs for an already bullish market.

Founded in 1976, the Sotheby’s International Realty network is said to have been designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientèle in the world, according to the realtor’s website. In 2004, it started operating a franchising system. Sotheby’s parent company is Realogy Holding, itself a real estate franchising entity. Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the famous operator of the global auction house, that sells luxury jewellery, fashion and art.

“Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications,” according to the Sotheby’s International Realty website.

Sotheby’s International says it supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Franchise affiliates also benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744, the company said on its website.




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