A packed-house crowd gathered in downtown Gloucester Thursday night to celebrate the grand opening of the city’s newest real estate agency, Engel & Völkers By the Sea. More than 100 community leaders, business people, and family and friends sipped prosecco, explored the bright new offices, and cheered along as the new office officially opened for business.
“Engel & Völkers is run by some of the best minds in the world,” says Karen Hanson, license partner at the agency. “We knew that we had to do it.”
Hanson has been in real estate for 25 years, starting out in Boston’s Back Bay and South. About a decade ago, she moved to the North Shore, where she started By the Sea Sotheby’s International Realty. The agency was consistently at the top of the market.
Then, Engel & Völkers came calling.
Engel & Völkers is an international luxury brand based in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded in 1977 and began expanding internationally in 1990. Today, the brand operates in 30 countries; it opened its 800th location in 2017. In addition to residential properties, the company has divisions dealing in commercial real estate, yachts, and even private aircraft.
In its residential operation, the company’s focus is on providing premium properties in beautiful locations to discerning customers, explained Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers Americas, speaking at the Gloucester event.
“We are very selective of the cities and the markets we go into,” he says. “This city definitely qualifies.”
When Engel & Völkers approached Hanson, she was immediately drawn to the brand and went to New York to meet with the company.
“We talk and talked and finally we had a meeting of the minds,” she says. “And I feel like I’ve been shot out of a cannon ever since.”
Hanson and her agents began operating under the Engels & Völkers name in August, though the past few months have been focused on transitioning to the new brand: buying furniture, setting up new software systems, building out the new office space.
The Gloucester office is styled with Engel & Völkers’ signature look. The space is airy and uncluttered, with clean white walls, punctuated will touches of red and black. A large screen in the front of the office rotates through featured listings promoting houses for sale in locations like Los Angeles, New York city, and Vail. Hanson and Hitt expressed a desire to see the walls sport local art, and for the space to act as a venue for community events.
Engel & Völkers By the Sea has a slate of 26 advisors—the brand’s preferred term for agents. Hanson praised them for their knowledge, their education, and their commitment to the human side of real estate transactions.
For global real estate advisor Martha Anger, who has been with Hanson since the beginning of By the Sea Sotheby’s International Realty, the recent months have been a lot of work and a lot of fun. She is particularly pleased that the company has opened an office in Gloucester, the city where she lives.
“It is such a privilege to sell where I live,” she says.
Community leaders praised the arrival of the new business to Gloucester.
State Senator Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester resident, thanked Hanson for making it her mission to introduce the rest of the world to what a special place the city is. Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, a friend of Hanson’s, says the growth of business in the city is always welcome. But she is particularly excited about the international nature of the Engel & Völkers brand. Gloucester is joining a list of locations that includes London, Paris, Milan, and Hong Kong.
“It means Gloucester, Massachusetts, is going to be known all around the world,” Theken says.
Next week, Hanson will cut the ribbon at an Engel & Völkers By the Sea office in Beverly Farms. In coming months, additional locations will open in Marblehead and Newburyport.
But on Thursday night, her attention was focused on Gloucester and the throngs of people who came out to welcome her business to town.
“We really feel like tonight we have so much support in the community,” Hanson says. “I can’t tell you what that means to us.”