The $9.75 million property on River Oaks Boulevard where the Christie's International Real Estate presentation was given at the Nan and Company Properties awards event.
Dan Conn, Christie's International Real Estate CEO, speaking in Houston
Nan and Company Properties' Jose and Nancy Almodovar, Christie's International Real Estate vice president of business development Natalie Hamrick and CEO Dan Conn
Nancy Almodovar making opening remarks at the Nan and Company Properties inaugural awards ceremony.
Forget exorbitant price tags as a barometer of luxury. According to a leader in high-end residential real estate, luxury is in the eye of the beholder, dollar value notwithstanding. So says Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, who spent a recent morning in Houston, mesmerizing a group of Nan and Company Properties agents with his take on the luxury market.
“Historically, we used to have threshold pricing and that defined luxury,” he tells PaperCity during an interview at 1708 River Oaks Boulevard. “Increasingly, I don’t think that is the right way to think about it at all.”
Conn’s concept is luxury as a noun as opposed to luxury as an adjective (luxury town home, luxury yacht). There is no question, however, that the locale of Conn’s presentation is a luxury property. The storied 15,000 square foot mansion, elegantly standing a stone’s throw from River Oaks Country Club, is priced at $9.75 million.
The real estate mogul’s theory is based on “the luxury of something.” The luxury of a kilo of beluga caviar, for example, or the luxury of something that is rare or something you have to reach for.
“What are the things that I really want to have? So it becomes very experiential,” Conn says.
With luxury as the cornerstone of Christie’s business model, he notes, “One person’s luxury is not necessarily another person’s luxury.” Thus, it’s about expanding the concept and therefore the marketplace.
A Global Summit in Houston
Changing gears, Conn revealed to the gathering that Christie’s annual Luxury Specialist conference will be held in Houston in October with more than 300 of the firm’s agents from around the globe checking in at the Post Oak Hotel.
“It’s a combo of traditional real estate content and immersing our agents from around the world in the broader world of luxury goods,” he says. “Our conferences don’t look like anybody else’s and I don’t want them to.” That means, he says, enriching people’s appreciation of art, jewelry, watches, handbags, etc.
He also announced the creation of a Christie’s Masters Circle. While not a novel idea, it is a first for the company. The top three agents in Christie’s offices worldwide will enjoy special programming at the conference and throughout the year in which they are able to take advantage of the firm’s widespread umbrella with experts in key luxury categories through Christie’s, the auction house parent company which was founded in London in 1766. Conn is based in the firm’s New York headquarters.
“A part of what is special about Christie’s is the connection to high net worth clients around the world who we transact with in a variety of luxury categories,” Conn says. “This is a relationship business with less emphasis on branding and signage.”
The relationship between Christie’s and Nancy Almodovar, president and CEO of Nan and Company Properties, was launched in 2017, a coup for a company which was only four years old at the time. (When Sotheby’s International Realty Inc. purchased Martha Turner Properties in 2014, Christie’s was without a Houston affiliate for the first time in 20 years.)
“We describe ourselves as an invitation network,” Conn says. “Nancy approached us over several years, but we waited for her to develop a track record. We watched her for a couple of years.
“They’ve got a good solid core business and they were relatively localized in their market and that’s what we were looking to do. They were looking to get into River Oaks and the Heights and this is an area where Christie’s could really help. So this is a perfect collaboration opportunity.”
Conn’s presentation was the keynote address of Nan and Company Properties’ inaugural awards ceremony.