South Florida Business Journal
November 12, 2010
One Sotheby’s New President Plans Growth
By Oscar Pedro Musibay
Esslinger Wooten Maxwell’s former COO, Beth Butler, who helped grow the brokerage to 14 locations, has joined One Sotheby’s International Realty as its president.
One Sotheby’s CEO Mayi De La Vega hired Butler, who had been serving as a consultant to the company for about a year.
Butler’s arrival coincides with the company’s hire of former EWM luxury real estate broker Kevin Tomlinson, who also writes his own real estate blog, as a VP.
Butler said joining One Sotheby’s is a natural fit for her because she was already working with the company to create the infrastructure for it to grow, a process she also oversaw at EWM.
Butler has been instrumental in integrating online resources into the One Sotheby’s infrastructure, and launched the brokerage’s iPad application. The application, a free download, is designed to be a more user-friendly interface than what is typically available through the Multiple Listing Service.
Butler joined EWM as a sales manager when the company had two offices – one in Coral Gables and another in Pinecrest. She was GM before becoming COO, a position she held for 10 years.
In 2003, EWM was sold to HomeServices of America, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway.
After leaving EWM in 2009, Butler launched Big Mouth Consulting, with One Sotheby’s as its first client.
De La Vega purchased One Sotheby’s directly from Sotheby’s. Each Sotheby’s office is independently owned and operated.
Luxury real estate broker Carlos Justo, who founded and owned SOL Sotheby’s, a company that collapsed under litigation, is not affiliated with De La Vega.
The 200-agent One Sotheby’s has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Key Biscayne, Coral Gables and Miami Beach. It is planning to move into new 5,500-square-foot offices, currently being built out, in the latter two cities, a process Butler has helped supervise.
De La Vega says the move to bring Butler onboard was organic because, at the time, she was already working with One Sotheby’s. She gives Butler credit for targeting the office locations, hiring management and restructuring the company for growth. Butler also revamped the company’s website and launched the company’s social media campaigns, including a tweetup at one of its offices.
As for strategy, Butler said the market has done a lot of the hard work. About a year ago, she saw pricing on luxury properties shift downward, finally giving in to the reality of the market, which sparked lots of activity.
Financing has not been an issue in the luxury market because typically buyers of high-end homes pay in cash. This makes the high-end market a little more resistant to some of the negative effects of the economic downturn.
Sotheby’s decided to focus on high-end real estate to give itself the best chance for success because it otherwise might have spread itself to thin, Butler said.
She said buyers are still coming from overseas – places like Russia, France and Latin America – but lower pricing has also rejuvenated the buying pool domestically, specifically in the Northeast.
Butler says Miami Beach, the market Tomlinson specializes in, is key to the company’s overall strategy. But, the company is also focused on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard area, and Miami’s downtown and the Brickell Avenue area.
Tomlinson made the move to One Sotheby’s in part because of the brand recognition. He says his clients instantly have an idea of what the company stands for by hearing the name.
That’s how he got the listing for 309 E. San Marino on Venetian Isle, he said.
He said Butler was always on “the cutting edge” of technology at EWM, and he is happy that she is bringing that expertise to One Sotheby’s.
Adam Greenberg, managing director at BayBridge Real Estate Group, said bringing Butler onboard will add to the brokerage’s prestige in a tough market: “It’s a good move for Sotheby’s to bring in seasoned management people, somebody who has been there and done that.”