Vitals: Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty
Years in Business: 30
Size: 23 offices, 480 agents
Regions Served: Bay Area with offices in Marin, Napa, Silicon Valley and East Bay
2018 Sales Volume: $3.9 billion
2018 Transactions: 2,681
Heidi Pay grew up with a family that invested heavily in real estate with a “buy-and-hold” philosophy. Today, as chief operating officer and general manager of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty in Mill Valley, Calif., Pay has proven to be a great wealth builder and believes in the long-term value of real estate.
“I love this industry because as a financial investment, homes, unlike stocks or even art, provide a huge impact on life experience,” she says. “Making a house a home is a vehicle for self-expression, attaches us to communities, supports relationships with family and friends, and provides the added benefits of financial leverage and tax benefits.”
What have you seen in the Bay Area market for 2019?
Heidi Pay: We have seen unprecedented pricing for Bay Area homes over the last lengthy growth cycle. The economic underpinnings are strong, with low unemployment, low interest rates and limited supply. However, this year, appreciation has cooled, and many counties saw minor readjustments in average price. It seems this upswing has crested for the time being as prices exceed what the market will bear. The third quarter of 2019 brought a reduction in the median price of Bay Area single-family homes of 4 percent. This indicates a move to a more normalized market.
What is your growth strategy in the year ahead?
HP: Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty is absolutely planning to grow over the next 12 months. We have many opportunities to expand and are selectively exploring those of most interest. This is in the form of acquisitions, as well as organic recruiting.
What differentiates your firm in the marketplace?
HP: One thing that defines our company is our long-term commitment to the real estate business and the belief that there is an incredible value in the knowledge and experience a trusted agent brings to the success of a transaction. We know that this is a relationship and service business. While we have been on the forefront of technology, we provide technology to support relationships, not replace them. Our three owners—Bill Bullock, Olivia Decker and Michael Dreyfus—are all exceptional agents who are at the pinnacle of their sales careers. They know what agents want and how to support their success.
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business in 2020?
HP: The opportunity we see is consolidation in the entire industry, from brokerages to agents. Fewer players are doing more business. We are poised to grow through this next cycle as our clients look to guidance from top-tier agents and demand the global exposure only we can provide to ensure the sale of their properties at the highest price. Mediocrity will not survive in the next market cycle. This offers our business-minded agents an opportunity to excel and gain marketshare as they work within an elite brand.
How are you preparing your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s first-time homeowners?
HP: The Bay Area is a challenging location for first-time homebuyers and millennials. We have agents who provide a luxury service at all price points. Our experienced agents can provide both guidance and access to market data so that buyers can make smart purchasing decisions. Despite the extensive information available online, a first-time purchase is intimidating, and there are frequently aspects of the home or area that are not fully considered or known unless someone who knows and understands them brings attention to them. For those moving up, we offer One Bridge, a bridge loan program in concert with Opes Advisors, so that clients can buy before selling, which allows them to make more competitive offers.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.