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Today’s Ask the Expert column features Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America.

Q: When does international really mean international?

A: First, it’s simply not enough to have industry contacts overseas. Working with a truly international brokerage means that the network, its structure and its agents are consistently credible worldwide and have a proven system with real lines of business moving throughout international markets.

It means that clients on the coast of nearly any continent can expect to find the same quality of resources, tools and business they would find from their local real estate advisor back home, and we must be versatile, flexible and ready to embrace innovation. For Engel & Völkers, we’re not just selling real estate, we’re selling a lifestyle.

Since language is hard to be universal, we don’t underestimate the power of consistent branding at every level of business, which, for us, has meant 40 years of consistent branding. Visitors and clients can find Engel & Völkers fine China, stationery, writing utensils and business cards replicated in the same ways from our “shops” in Buenos Aires to Beverly Hills. The brand guidelines for our signature shops found in every major global market are extremely detailed—but, more importantly, the advisors inside them execute the same universally embraced core values of being competent, exclusive and passionate.

This brings me to the second and more important half of this special equation of being truly international—that is, our network and clients must feel truly connected.

Ease of accessibility and being able to effortlessly connect with your contacts overseas must be a prerequisite of being an international network. However, to be truly international, it’s a necessity that the quality of contact each one of our clients makes is always dependable, consistent and simply the best.

We strive to guarantee that our advisors can entrust their beloved clients to other advisors from across the world, fully knowing their clients will be treated with the same quality and care they would personally deliver. When a homebuyer or seller meets with a new advisor in Hong Kong, they should feel like they’re meeting with the one they already respect and love from back home in Aspen.

We strive to hear more stories like Greg Carros’, owner of our Engel & Völkers Vancouver shop, whose client was ecstatic about being able to deal with “another Greg in a different city.” This is what genuine evidence of being truly connected internationally looks like—and that feeling can be universal.

Ultimately, the Engel & Völkers network lives by one simple rule: to be where our clients are—to truly be in the best locations around the world. Wherever our presence is, wherever our clients want to buy and sell their homes, it must be interactive and unmistakable.

As it stands, Engel & Völkers’ international nature and European birthplace has helped in waves as our industry shows a pressing need to globalize. Undeniably, there’s untapped financial opportunity in the international real estate sphere, and having a premium legacy that’s backed by international accessibility and an interconnected culture is something very special.

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