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Houston's dominance of the luxury vacation home market lures Sotheby's high-dollar agents

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Brad Nelson, from left, Martha Turner, Kathy Korte and Tom Anderson at the Martha Turner Sotheby's Reception February 2014
Brad Nelson, from left, Martha Turner, Kathy Korte and Tom Anderson at the Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty reception. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
Chris Klug, from left, Susanne Perkins and Frank Symons at the Martha Turner Sotheby's Reception February 2014
Top-selling agents: Chris Klug of Aspen, left, Suzanne Perkins of Santa Barbara and Frank Symons of Beverly Hills at the Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty reception. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, banner
In Telluride, Houstonians represent 40 percent of the vacation market. Mountainfilm/Facebook
Santa Barbara Polo, September 2012, Montecito home of Sandi and Bill Nicholson, Ferrari, palm trees
Properties in Santa Barbara are popular with Texans including this property owned by Dallasites. Photo by Baron Spafford
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Brad Nelson, from left, Martha Turner, Kathy Korte and Tom Anderson at the Martha Turner Sotheby's Reception February 2014
Chris Klug, from left, Susanne Perkins and Frank Symons at the Martha Turner Sotheby's Reception February 2014
Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, banner
Santa Barbara Polo, September 2012, Montecito home of Sandi and Bill Nicholson, Ferrari, palm trees

Shortly after Martha Turner Properties was purchased by Sotheby's International Realty, the luxury real estate company brought in its top sellers from targeted vacation markets around the country to meet the Martha Turner team. And with good reason. Houstonians represent a whopping 20 percent of second-home buyers in markets such as Aspen, Santa Fe and Santa Barbara.

Sotheby's International Realty president and CEO Kathy Korte and senior vice president Bradley Nelson led the two-day confab that included a reception at the Manor House at The Houstonian for Martha Turner top agents and the Sotheby's team.

"It's a referral networking event for agents and our offices," Korte said at the cocktail reception. "Houston is a strong feeder market for buyer and seller activity in all of the mountain states, primarily in Colorado and throughout California."

 Houstonians represented 20 percent of all sales over $8 million in Telluride, Colo.

Bringing that fact home, Nelson noted that in a recent survey of luxury vacation markets, Houstonians represented 20 percent of all sales over $8 million in Telluride, Colo.

Among the agents that Sotheby's brought in for the meetings and socials was Suzanne Perkins of Santa Barbara. She was the nation's top selling agent in 2007, that status earned in no small part due to her sale that year of a $150 million ranch in her area. Korte noted that the annual sales volume of the visiting agents ranges between $50 million and $200 to $250 million, depending on the year.

High on that list is Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug of Aspen (he won bronze in parallel giant slalom in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002). He said that just last week he had put more than $25 million into contract.  It doesn't take many properties to get to that level in Aspen where the average single family home price is $4 million, according to Klug, and where properties in the downtown core of Aspen are selling from $2,600 to $3,000 a square foot.

Top-selling Telluride agent Bill Fandel pointed out that in the community of 2,300 full-time residents, 600 property owners come from Texas and that 40 percent of the vacation traffic comes from Houston. Just last year, pop singer Jewel purchased a vacation home from a Houston family.

Martha Turner reports that her top agents manage sales typically from $30 to $40 million annually. Turner and Tom Anderson, operating as co-presidents of the new company, were on board with what Turner called the "cross-pollination" and a "synergy" between the Sotheby's agents around the country and the Houston team.

"The company as we know it continues," Turner said. "But with the added value of the Sotheby's connection. We set the tone and make our decisions locally."

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