What does it mean for a real estate agent to be affiliated with the Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty brand? What advantage do buyers and sellers get when they work with an LSIR broker? Podcast Host and local Louisville Realtor Greg Fleischaker speaks with John Lenihan, owner and Principal Broker of the company.
Anyone who has traveled the world and stayed in nice resorts – particularly in coastal Europe – likely has seen the Sotheby’s offices. “Sotheby’s International Realty in my mind was the finest, high-end real estate brokerage in the world,” Lenihan explains. His background was in finance, but he says he “always had an interest in residential real estate and was going to open a company in Louisville with a focus on high-end.”
He knew he needed three important components to succeed: agents, technology, and brand. He had the downtown office, the furniture, the marketing template and a few key real estate agent contacts, but just needed the right name and identity for his firm to take form. After kicking around boutiquey names like “John Lenihan Properties” and “Lenihan Fine Homes,” he finally settled on the Sotheby’s brand. Rumor had it, the brand had been considering leaving a footprint in Lexington or possibly Louisville. “It became clear to me that Sotheby’s matched up best with my vision of having a full-service concierge type agency,” he explained.
“While Louisville doesn’t exactly match up price wise with some of the coastal or European or even now South American markets, we certainly are identical in the sense that the buyer and seller are involved in a transaction that is one of the largest that they will make in their lifetime. Why shouldn’t they have the best representation available to them?” Lenihan opened the Louisville Sotheby’s office in January 2011, and it’s been a tremendous success ever since.
There are several areas where the LSIR brand leads. Lenihan immediately brought in an enormous amount of print advertising, but also focused on improving marketing reach through social media and the internet. Now they employ a full-time coordinator to oversee all activities on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, and other platforms.
More recently, they added high definition photography and HD video to every listing. “We then took it to another level and bought several drones,” he says, to capture aerial photography. Podcasts have helped the brand reach new demographics.
“We look at ourselves as a category of one. There isn’t going to be another firm that will do what we do to market a home,” Lenihan explains. There’s no “secret” to his firm’s success. “It’s about commitment of both will and money,” he adds. He invites agents, buyers or sellers to contact the 22 agents at his firm to experience the Lenihan Sotheby’s International difference for themselves.
The trendsetting ways of the local Louisville chapter has been recognized by the larger Sotheby’s hierarchy, in fact. “We have been asked to make presentations at the International Conference of real estate agents for Sotheby’s… to managers within the franchise network who had come from all over the world.”
Ultimately, sales volume and year-over-year growth are good indicators of quality customer service and overall success. “Putting it in perspective, the company’s first year of sales were 36 million, the next year 74 million, the following year 135 million, the next year after that, our fourth year, we were about 155 million, last year, we were 232 million in sales. I believe this year we will approach 300 million in sales.”