2020 was a memorable year for all of us, but not all of us can say we joined forces with an international company to grow our business like Susan Desselle did. The owner and principal broker of Capital Sotheby’s International Realty in Little Rock, formerly Desselle Real Estate, shares what that unique experience was like for her and her team.
This is a huge move for you and your team. Congrats! Walk us through what that decision-making process was like as owner and operator.
SD: Since I first opened Desselle Real Estate in 2014, my focus had been on building processes to ensure that our agents were equipped to deliver the highest level of expertise, professionalism and hospitality in our industry, and that our agency was equipped to support our agents with professional development, skill enhancement, closing coordination, office management, listing services and marketing support.
By 2018, we had most of those boxes checked, with the exception of being able to provide our sellers the global reach they needed to reach the international buyers that come into our market every year, and being able to provide iconic and extraordinary marketing and advertising for our sellers, as is prevalent in so many other markets around the U.S. and the world.
The search for what that next step would be led to a very short list, since we knew we wanted a platform and network that had the same core values and client commitment we did. Once we zeroed in on Sotheby’s International Realty, the world’s oldest and most iconic luxury real estate network, we entered into a mutual and in-depth discovery process to ensure that Sotheby’s International Realty was the best network to complement our vision, to demonstrate to them that the central Arkansas real estate market was a fit for their extraordinary brand and that our agency was their ideal host.
Just as we approached the final phase of discovery, COVID hit and the process halted for a few months. Then in August, we began moving forward again and on Oct. 22, 2020, we launched as Capital Sotheby’s International Realty.
Did the pandemic bring any unique obstacles to this transition? If so, what were they and how did you navigate them?
SD: COVID impacted our forward movement by about four months. As everyone now knows, not long after COVID hit, real estate took off and our business increased 43% year over year. During that huge rush, we had less time to focus on the possible affiliation since we were so busy serving our buyers and sellers. By the end of August, we were back on track with our affiliate intentions and our launch was completed in October.
What are you most excited about for the future in working with a global company?
SD: We are very excited to be able to offer our agents and our clients global exposure for the sale of their homes, truly world class, cutting edge advertising and marketing and to be a part of such an iconic, well-respected and recognized real estate network.
After years of running your business solo, how does it feel to hand over the reins, at least in part, to someone else?
SD: Actually, there are two parts to Sotheby’s International Realty – the corporate owned offices and the affiliate offices, which is what Capital Sotheby’s International Realty is. As an affiliate office we are independently owned and operated. So, we have the great advantage of still being us – same local ownership, same local agents, same core values, same vision and mission, but with access to the world’s best tools and reach, and the industry’s most talented marketing and advertising creators.
What wisdom would you give to business owners in a similar position?
SD: Definitely decide first exactly what you are seeking and why, then explore all the best candidates who can deliver what you are looking for, then take your time to be sure the match is the right one for you and your business. Then, just say yes!