Sotheby’s International Realty President and CEO Philip A. White
Plus, why Philip White thinks your home should be your sanctuary
By Lucy Cohen Blatter/ Mansion Global
Philip A. White, Jr., a 35-year real estate industry veteran, is president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, which currently markets nearly 22,000 properties worth over $1 million. Sotheby’s International Realty has 19,000 affiliated independent sales associates across 850 offices in 65 countries and territories across the globe.
Lucy Cohen Blatter caught up with Mr. White to talk about his personal definition of luxury, his valuable art collection and much more.
Q: What does luxury mean to you?
A: Luxury to me is a combination of excellent service and high quality goods for an exceptional experience. Those are the pillars of Sotheby’s. Of course, what is a luxury house in San Antonio or Austin is different than Manhattan or Miami, and the price point differs a lot, but it’s often about top amenities and location. It’s not always about size, though—you can find a jewel box.
Q: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
A: We continue to expand our global footprint, and our office locations and the properties we handle are in the most prestigious locations around the world, whether that’s Paris, Monte Carlo, London, Sydney or Melbourne. But we’re also keeping up with emerging markets—parts of Western Europe and Eastern Europe. We’re fully operational in Dubai, and have recently opened in Abu Dhabi. We’ve opened in Helsinki, Finland, and in the Netherlands, just next to Amsterdam. We’ve opened on the Gold Coast of Australia in Queensland and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Q: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
A: Generally it involves a change in demographics. We’re seeing that millennials want to stay in big cities and live near town squares. There’s a movement toward being near activity. Contemporary design is also really popular with that demographic. We have a relationship with [shelter magazine] Dwell, and we feature contemporary and modern listings in conjunction with them, and we get a lot of traffic there. It’s not all that surprising, though, when you think about it. It goes along with the trends in the art world, too. Contemporary style is just so popular.
Q: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
A: Well, we’ve noticed that searches for private island homes are up 225% year over year. And searches for international locations like the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic have more than doubled, so have searches for islands like Anguilla, St. Lucia and Mauritius, specifically.
Q: What’s your favourite part of your home?
A: I have an open kitchen that opens to my family room, so that’s where we all gather. I also really appreciate that my house is about 15 minutes from Newark Airport. I travel a lot, so that proximity is great.
Q: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
A: I have a pretty decent collection of 20th Century photographs by famous photographers, and I bought most of them at Sotheby’s auctions.
Q: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
A: That really depends on lifestyle and what a buyer is trying to accommodate. If you have an art collection and you want to display that, wall space is a coveted amenity. Food enthusiasts will want high-end kitchens and wine cellars. Someone who boats or fishes wants a deep water dock. In terms of technology, though, the “smart” home is a growing amenity. Green homes are becoming more popular, too. So is wellness. Having a spa at home is a great amenity for some people.
Q: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
A: Buy a home. There are tax advantages if you take out a mortgage, and it’s the best way to build equity. Also, buy a home that feels like a sanctuary. People work hard, and they need to come home to a place where they can relax.
Q: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
A: There are advantages to both. A new house is appealing because you can make it your own. Whereas an established property in a great location has its positive factors, too. The last place I bought was a new unit, which no one had lived in it before, but my house prior to that had been a resale. I can see the value in both.