On a "wing and a prayer," we came to be in February of 1999. The four of us were surfing the waves at our favorite beach and conjecturing about the future of residential real estate in America, as one of the great real estate, hotel, and car franchise giants - then Cendant (now Realogy, soon to be ??? with their recent purchase by a private equity group) - had just gobbled up the premier, privately-owned "carriage-trade" firm in Washington D.C., Pardoe Real Estate. Sam Pardoe, who had founded Pardoe Real Estate back in the 1970s, had been a close friend; and during his time, as well as with those who succeeded him, his firm prospered and also became the Sotheby's International Realty affiliate for the Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland region.
Tom was the Executive Vice President of Sotheby's International Realty in New York at the time; Bill was one of Pardoe's top agents and the company's Sotheby's representative, Dana was the Director of Finance, Human Resources, Information Systems, and Business Support at global telecom giant Mitel; and Marc was the New York Managing Partner of Egon Zehnder International, a "Big 5" global executive search firm.
As had been the practice, when Sotheby's affiliates were bought out by large franchise organizations, they lost their Sotheby's affiliation, and so it went with Pardoe. With Pardoe having dominated such a large portion of the luxury real estate market in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, a void was left for Sotheby's to fill, and fill it they did with the newly established Washington Fine Properties (WFP), which became the new Sotheby's affiliate for the Nation's Capital Region.
A few brave souls - Ellen Morrell, Patrick Chauvin, and Susan Koehler, to mention just a few - joined us in launching WFP. It was an easy transition for Bill as an agent; Dana left Mitel to run the company day to day; Tom remained at Sotheby's; and Marc stayed at Egon Zehnder.
We founded our firm knowing that we would only be as good as our agents. Over the years we can only say we have been blessed - and continue to be blessed - with the best (no exaggeration) agents in the world joining us. Our agents share a handful of values and principles that we know distinguish them in the markets we serve. They are:
- Clients First - Our clients entrust us with finding or selling what is often the single largest financial asset they have, or ever will have - their home. Our "client-first" commitment is a guarantee of the integrity of our advice.
- Individual Collegiality - Our agents compete against their own personal best. It's the old 80/20, or what we see as the 90/10 rule. Ten percent of the agents in any given market often do 90% of the business. We believe in recruiting highly entrepreneurial agents who also believe in teamwork, both within our firm and with other real estate firms. Our agents are extremely self-directed, yet they foster a harmonious, shared work environment.
- Focused Momentum - In this virtual, networked age we live in, everything is faster-paced. Momentum is a function of "mass" and "speed," and we have the perfect marriage between the two. We have the reach you need, and we're nimble. Also, our "one-firm" concept has us linking arms with other important networks, nationally and internationally, to provide you with your most efficient marketing program.
In 2001, we opened an office in Potomac, Maryland, and continued to build our presence in the suburban Maryland market. Then, in 2004, Cendant entered the picture again, this time not buying an affiliate, but the whole of Sotheby's International Realty. As plans for franchising the Sotheby's International Realty brand were being put in place, Tom decided to recommit his energy to the luxury "carriage-trade" real estate market and join Washington Fine Properties. Months later we dropped our affiliation with Sotheby's and committed ourselves to a handful of select luxury organizations that we thought would better serve our clients at the luxury end, also believing that in this more democratic, "networked era" we live in, it's better to have broader, rather than narrower, exposure. In tandem, we launched "Fine Properties International," our own umbrella marketing network operating at both the national and international levels, which incorporates the handful of luxury networks we belong to, in order to deliver the broadest marketing exposure - bar none - for luxury property listings.
At the same time, we joined forces with Armfield, Miller & Ripley Fine Properties in Middleburg and Washington, Virginia, another former Sotheby's affiliate, based on the belief that more and more Washingtonians and Virginians want to have a footing in both places.
At the beginning of 2007, we finally got Marc to leave Egon Zehnder after 20+ years to join us here in Washington. Stay tuned. We're brimming with ideas and we're bullish about real estate. We absolutely believe in our model and the future of the "carriage- trade" real estate firm. It's all about serving you better. Market reach is critical, but bigger, whether in terms of volume or agents, is not always better or more efficient. In fact, it's a thing of the past. We look forward to serving you.
Tom Anderson  Dana Landry Bill Moody Marc Schappell