Tri-City real estate leader eyes future, joins Sotheby’s

A Tri-City real estate firm is looking beyond Eastern Washington to attract customers now that the Mid-Columbia region has established an international reputation.

Nearly 500 people packed the Toyota Center Charter Lounge on Nov. 1 as Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities revealed its new brand and name to the community: Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty.

“For the last 24 years, we have been pretty aggressive with marketing, and we wanted to position ourselves for the years to come with an organization known for worldwide marketing,” said owner Dave Retter.

Growth prompts change

After more than a decade in real estate, Retter and Harold Thompson established Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities in 1992 during a time when the Tri-Cities was primarily known for its government work.

“Now our science and technology is internationally known, our wine industry and educational facilities are internationally known,” Retter said. “The market is very stable here and is more diverse than at any other time in the Tri-Cities.”

Job opportunities in the science, engineering, agriculture and retail sectors have continued to grow as the Tri-City economy recovers from the recession, and the population has boomed as well.

In 2010, the Tri-City Development Council reported a population of 250,000 in the region, which grew to roughly 275,000 in 2015.


Plugging in to broader market

Retter said he approached Sotheby’s as a way to position the Tri-Cities into a broader market.

Sotheby’s International Realty has more than 19,000 affiliated independent sales associates in 65 countries and territories worldwide. Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty will be marketed on the global website. The brand also boasts the benefits of its signature mobile application, SIR Mobile, to provide clients with access anytime and anywhere.

“The listings on Sotheby’s website are going to be viewed on a larger platform, not only nationally, but worldwide, and this offers our sellers more exposure for their listing,” Retter said.

With the addition of Retter’s franchise operation in Kennewick, Sotheby’s International Realty will have eight independently owned and operated companies in the state.

“We look for a strong company with solid market share and a leader in the higher end of the market. We are proud to welcome Dave Retter and his team,” said Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Kennewick is situated along three major rivers and known for its favorable climate. The area supports an active lifestyle offering ideal conditions for hiking, fishing, golfing and biking and also has an internationally recognized wine industry.”

The Sotheby’s brand supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates also benefit from the association with the brand’s venerable auction house.

Sotheby’s handles sales in more than 50 categories, including antiquities, African art, impressionist and modern art, old master paintings, contemporary art, jewelry, furniture, watches and wine.

In 1744, London Bookseller, Samuel Baker—founder of Sotheby’s—held his first auction by selling the library of Sir John Stanley. Sotheby’s was the first auction house to break the $1 million barrier for jewelry selling a ring for $1.1 million in 1968.


Customer focus remains same

Sotheby’s Auction House founded Sotheby’s International Realty in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a world class marketing and referral program for luxury listings, but Retter said his company has the same focus it has had for decades: help anyone trying to achieve the American dream.

“Our company, for many years, has had the privilege of helping people buy and sell real estate in all price ranges. At the end of the day, if someone wants to buy or sell a home, we want to help them,” Retter said. “We received an opportunity to align ourselves with the best marketing realty company, and this move is helping us expand our marketing ability.”

Although the signage has changed outside Retter’s Kennewick office, as well as on for sale signs throughout the area, Retter will retain the same team and location at 329 N. Kellogg St.

“The staff is very excited. They’re the ones who were actually driving me to look at how we could get better,” he said. Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty has 67 residential brokers.

The change also means a new name for the 2,100-seat theater at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. It will be called Retter & Company Theatre, sponsored by Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty.

Retter’s office has been the sole sponsor of the theater, which hosts Broadway shows and other events, for the past three years.


Commercial division rebrands

There are also a dozen people who work in commercial real estate, but since Sotheby’s International Realty is strictly residential, Retter’s commercial division has also undergone a rebranding effort.

It will now operate under the name SVN, a national brand with more than 200 offices, Retter said.

“With SVN, we are giving our commercial division a nationalized presence and offering incredible marketing tools for our agents, which will help our clients. It’s what we have needed to help our clients achieve their investment goals,” he said.

The SVN arm handles all aspects of commercial and property management.

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