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In the current real estate landscape, much is made of the term “international.” Among brokerage firms and agents, it’s the hottest marketing buzzword—nowhere more so than in New York.

But what does it mean for a real estate firm to be truly international? At Engel & Völkers, we find that it’s more than what I call “pins on a map.” By that, I mean just having affiliated firms or marketing partners in various exotic locations. Being truly global means having an extensive network of offices operating on the same platform and following the same brand principals, regardless of their market area. With a shared culture and infrastructure in place, sales agents have effortless access to colleagues and potential clients many time zones away.

The bottom line is that, these days, having a local presence is only half the battle; you must have credible and persuasive access to international markets if you want your business to reach its potential. Top agents worldwide—whether Antonia Crespi in Zurich or Sandra Miller in Los Angeles—have recognized this and have found the value in Engel & Völkers’ international network.

At Engel & Völkers, we execute our global brand on three levels:

1. The brand. The company, under the guidance of Founder and CEO Christian Völkers, has spent the last 35 years cultivating an iconic brand. His singular leadership ensures that the brand values are universally embraced and that everything from signage to light fixtures fits into a carefully considered identity that is recognizable and transferrable from one location to another. Engel & Völkers shops present the same image on every continent. This kind of distinctive presence is difficult to create and even harder to duplicate from place to place, but Engel & Völkers has done it dozens of times with more than 500 offices in 38 countries, most recently in New York City. They have applied a consistent identity to their yacht brokerages as well.

2. The structure. Besides geography, there are few, if any, boundaries between Engel & Völkers’ offices. A New Yorker looking for a summer home in Spain can visit us on Park Avenue, and our advisors can identify and connect them with the right Engel & Völkers’ shops and advisors. Our employees and advisors use one robust global intranet; share one marketing, client management and email platform; and attend the same training programs through E&V Academy. Advisors also have access to E&V InHouse—an internal, digital newsfeed that is updated daily with news and market information supplied by Engel & Völkers offices on every continent.

3. The agents. Engel & Völkers advisors are not content to simply be masters of their local domains. We attract savvy agents who understand and embrace the brand’s values. They know that their clients may require assistance beyond local borders and that their sellers expect outreach and access to markets around the world. Advisors and staff from Engel & Völkers shops from all over visit us when in New York, and our advisors are welcomed at Engel & Völkers shops when travelling abroad. This is so essential to us that in New York City, our independent contractor agreements provide meaningful incentives for the placement or servicing of referrals.

Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America, sums it up this way: “Being international means building a presence in which every piece blends seamlessly, ensuring that every employee and advisor has access to every other shop in the world. Beyond geographic location, you have to build the internal infrastructure that allows your employees to think and work globally. Engel & Völkers has been unparalleled in that regard.”

Stuart Siegel is president and CEO of Engel & Völkers NYC.

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