Haute Residence sits down with Budge Huskey of Coldwell Banker to get a glimpse into life as the President and CEO of one of the world’s most successful real estate franchises.
Budge, when you first started at Coldwell Banker in 1998 as a branch manager in Florida, did you foresee your future role as President and CEO? What advice would you have for someone looking to rise in his or her industry?
My best advice to anyone is the saying, “grow where you are planted.” If someone is with the right organization and makes a complete commitment to perform in his or her current position and add the most value possible, they need not focus on where they’ll be in five or ten years. Recognition will come naturally with time and, with it, opportunities that are limited only by one’s capabilities and desire.
We see you’re routinely recognized by Inman News as one of the most influential people in real estate. How do you think you have earned this title?
I would suggest it’s less of a personal statement and more related to my leadership position within an incredibly successful and trusted real estate brand. While my role may be based on over thirty years of demonstrated performance in real estate, the real influence lies in the 84,000 professionals with whom I’m proud to be associated. Perhaps it’s also recognition that the real estate business, by its very nature, is about influencing positive behaviors and creating a path to something better rather than issuing executive orders.
What key components of Coldwell Banker make the brand so successful, especially in the luxury market?
As with any brand regardless of industry, ultimately success is only possible by earning the consumer’s confidence and trust over many years of exceeding expectations and delivering upon commitments. For Coldwell Banker, the primary point of our differentiation from others is a focus on the quality standards of our network and a passion for innovation which continues even after 107 years. The concept of trust and the power of branding is even more evident in the luxury sector, where consumers have unlimited choices and an ever increasing definition of exceptional service. Coldwell Banker Previews International is a program that truly caters to the luxury home buyer and seller. In 2013, Coldwell Banker Previews International property specialists listed more than 10,000 homes valued at more than $2 million with 25% of those listed at more than $5 million. And on the sales side, our Previews property specialists participated in the sale of more than 20,000 $1 million-plus properties with an average price of $1.86 million. Working in the luxury space requires an expertise and only 8 ½ % of 84,000 sales professionals worldwide are certified as Previews property specialists. We clearly value our leadership stance in the upper end.
What growing trends are you seeing in the luxury real estate market in 2013 and 2014?
While there are many, perhaps two are the most visible from my view. First is the removal of geographic barriers with the internationalization of luxury sales, evidenced by increasing mobility among affluent buyers pursuing both investment and destination properties around the world. Second would be the decreasing age of the luxury customer, many of whom are far more focused on family than formality, on livable designs rather than scale, and proximity to activities and others rather than being cloistered away from the rest of the world.
What are your short term and long-term goals for Coldwell Banker?
Far too many to state in the limits of an article, though suffice it to say that my aim is to always ensure that, even after 107 years, Coldwell Banker’s brightest days are ahead rather than behind and that every person who is affiliated with our company heads to work each day with enormous pride on their role in improving lives through real estate. All else is just strategy to that end. As I said earlier, one of our key focuses that interests the affluent buyer and sellers is the increased interest in the U.S. from foreign buyers. It has been inspiring to see the increase in referrals and traffic from overseas. While much of the media focus has been on Asian buyers, we actually have healthy and routine dialogue between our top Previews property specialists in the U.S. with their colleagues in France, South America, the Caribbean, India and other affluent regions. We also continue to explore the importance lifestyle plays in home purchases and are investigating how such predictive modeling might influence our marketing efforts in the future.