Partnerships provide New Canaan realtor global opportunities
New Canaan agency: Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild connects with high-end firms in U.K., Paris
Lower Fairfield County has been making a name for itself as an international business center for maritime shipping and financial services, and now a New Canaan Realtor is expanding her overseas connections.
Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild, an independent residential real estate agency, has entered a partnership with Mayfair International Realty, a London-based network of 125 high-end brokerages with 350 offices in the United Kingdom, 40 in Paris and 150 affiliates in the United States.
The alliance builds on her agency's ties with Christie's International Real Estate, which has worldwide affiliates.
Cleary, who began her business 25 years ago, pursued an affiliation with Mayfair after the agency was recommended by colleagues nationwide.
"They've been very high on their connection with Mayfair," said Cleary, who received a top Christie's 2010 award for companies in geographic markets with 250,000 people or fewer. Her agency also is a member of LuxuryRealEstate.com.
"In the United Kingdom, there's no MLS (Multiple Listing Service). They don't share their listings. Mayfair unites all those companies and provides a market," Cleary said, adding Mayfair can provide relocation assistance to clients who are moving to the U.K. "I feel the need to provide my sellers with every opportunity I can give them."
London and New York City have longtime ties, as does by extension, lower Fairfield County, Cleary said.
"There are so many people going back and forth. My reach and the brand names I work with are internationally renowned. I'm able to expose my properties to the world," Cleary said, adding her agency received inquiries from individuals in China and Dubai through her Christie's connection. "I have a Chinese-speaking agent, which helps."
Neumann Real Estate, based in New Fairfield and Ridgefield, has had an affiliation with Christie's for two years, and though Russ Neumann, its managing partner, could not verify if his agency has made a sale as a result, he said the international connection has helped his business.
"It's become vital in this type of market because sellers are having a hard time selling. They like the affiliation Christie's gives them -- the international exposure," Neumann said, adding that properties are advertised at Christie's auction events. Some of those properties are represented by Neumann Real Estate.
Christie's affiliates in the United States, like Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild and Neumann Real Estate, are given exclusive rights in specific market areas.
Mayfair, which has a similar agreement with Houlihan Lawrence, the brokerage covering Westchester County, enhances the international aspect of Cleary's agency.
"It's an additional circle of influence in the big picture of global exposure," Cleary said.
She took the Mayfair representatives on two tours where they met sellers of properties in New Canaan, Darien and Greenwich, as well as a seven-acre waterfront family compound in Stamford.
"Personally, I found the New Canaan market fascinating -- as well as those in Darien and Stamford," said Churton, whose agency posts members' listings on its website and with The Daily Telegraph, which reaches more than 2 million readers in the U.K., as well as with the magazine, Country Life. "It's like having an office in London. We only act for one broker in any given area. This exclusivity gives us our unique benefit to member brokers. Fairfield County is as highly important and influential an area for luxury real estate as any in the U.S."
There are many in lower Fairfield County who may want to take advantage of Cleary's new partnership with Mayfair, said Michael Tucker, finance professor at Fairfield University, because of the financial services communities in both regions.
"In Stamford, we have major banks, including RBS. Mayfair could work with banks in the U.K., and set them up with the New Canaan real estate agency," he said. "It expands the market for both agencies."
Churton said his visit with New Canaan First Selectman Robert Mallozzi helped him understand why the community is attractive to home buyers.
"It is thrilling for us to promote property in the county to overseas buyers and the press in the U.K," he said. "We've had our eye on Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild for some time."
Mallozzi, who visits London annually, compared the city to a series of villages there.
"Westminster, Mayfair, Kensington, Chelsea just grew and grew. Our Elm Street is like your High Street. It's got that same feeling of village charm," he told Churton and Reeve.
The flow of key corporate personnel between London and New York City is increasing, bringing the two cities even closer, he said; and New Canaan is benefiting.
"New Canaan as a bedroom community -- or dormitory as we would say -- is important for overseas buyers, especially those looking to find a welcoming community for their families," said Churton, who blogged about his visit to Le Beau Chateau, which recently came on the market in New Canaan, and Grey Cliffs in Stamford.
Mayfair is Cleary's office in London, Churton said, adding that the relationship helps potential home buyers to get a leg up on buying a house in America before they move here.
The connection with Cleary gives Mayfair assurance that she will serve their clients well when they look for a house in the U.S., she said, and Cleary can have the same confidence when she sends her clients to Mayfair in their U.K. house search.
Mayfair and Christie's contribute to a growing number of U.S. sales attributed to international clients.
Statistics compiled by the National Association of Realtors shows that for the 12-month period ended in March 2011, residential international sales in the U.S., rose to $82 billion from $66 billion in 2009-2010. The figures apply to those who live outside the U.S., and those who have arrived within the past two years. Coincidently, revenue is divided equally between the two categories.
The average price paid by an international buyer was $315,000, compared with an overall U.S. average of $218,000.
The market is right for foreign buyers who have the funds to make a purchase, said Janet Branton, NAR senior vice president of Global Business and Alliances.
"Our real estate is on sale, and the U.S. dollar is pretty low compared with other currencies. People (in some foreign countries) would like to take their money and put it somewhere where it is safe," she said, suggesting that though the U.S. residential real estate market is down, many foreign investors see it as a good investment.
The leading foreign investors are Canadians with 23 percent of sales to its residents, Branton said, while Chinese buyers ranked second with 9 percent of sales to foreigners.