As global vice president of international servicing for Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, Michael Valdes travels constantly, seeing international real estate markets first-hand.
Mr. Valdes, who spent almost a decade as director of private banking at Deutsche Bank before joining Sotheby’s 11 years ago, oversees the brand’s international affiliates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia Pacific and in Canada. He also manages the Sotheby’s international servicing centers in Miami, London and Hong Kong. When he’s not traveling, his home bases are in Miami and New York.
We caught up with Mr. Valdes to discuss a growing market in India, strong consumer confidence across the globe, and much more.
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Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Michael Valdes: I’m in an enviable position because I see a lot of enviable homes. I like to look at iconic edifices (in New York), and I love west-facing views and dramatic sunsets, but I also really love Miami and the water (and I have a home there too). But I have to say I’ve seen the Woolworth penthouse—a 10,000-square-foot blank space and I walked around its 360-degree perch, and I’ve gotta say it was pretty spectacular.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
MV: In the mid ’90s there was an apartment in Miami that a rapper was selling for just under $1 million. My lawyer and accountant convinced me out of it. Last time it was sold, it was $10 million.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
MV: It’s an incredibly overused term. There are 2,000 billionaires around the world, and they all demand luxury. But that being said, it’s not directly correlated to money. It’s a sense of being, and about anticipating needs before people realize what they want, for example, it’s avoiding traffic in Rio by providing a private helicopter pad.
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MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
MV: Last month I was on an extended business trip to Asia. I was in Mumbai, with our affiliates in India, and I met with most of the top developers there. I was taken aback by the level of amenities and attention to details—butler service, Olympic-sized pools, squash courts. Only Indians can buy there for now, but it’s worth keeping a keen eye on.
MG:What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
MV: Just the level of design and amenities that cater to international buyers.Take, for example, the late Zaha Hadid, who created buildings that transform skylines, like 1000 Museum Mile in Miami.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
MV: Great memories of my childhood were around the table, and the dining room in a home is magical. In New York, I can fit 10 people, and I have dinner parties a lot. I have thought-provoking questions I put under people’s plates to create moments. A dining room is a place that facilitates that.
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MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
MV: Both homes are very, very modern. I like clean, straight lines, great furniture design. I have a Latin American art collection. When you add that to stark lines, it softens a room and makes it very inviting.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
MV: My watch collection. I still have the Cartier Tank watch my dad gave me when I was 21. For my birthday, I got a limited edition Hublot watch from friends, and there are only 35 in the world. I was taken aback.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
MV: For the way I travel, a doorman and a concierge. Also smart home technology,
where you can control everything in your house—from lighting to temperature to getting your car from the valet.
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MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
MV: Make sure you purchase wisely, and that you can afford to keep the property if the market turns. You want to invest wisely and make sure you’re not overextending yourself.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
MV: Recently, we did a global affluence report, wanting to see what consumers were thinking. Consumer confidence in the luxury sector is actually up. People still see real estate as a solid investment. Of course, Brexit and the so-called “Trump effect” will affect global real estate, but there’s still high consumer confidence.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
MV: It depends on your needs. As far as a macro answer, it’s places like New York City, London, San Francisco, which have consistently given high returns. But we’re also seeing lots of potential in places like Dubai, Singapore, Oman and Bahrain.
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MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
MV: It’s always going to be new development. Both of my homes are in high-rise developments. Because I travel so much, I love shutting my door and knowing it’s going to be there the same way when I get back.
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