Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd, Brokerage
1300 Yonge Street, Suite 100 Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X3

Christie’s International Conference: Economy, Marketing Insights and Recreational Properties

I thought I should highlight some insights from the Christies International Real Estate conference (#CIRE18LUX) held at Christie’s head office at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York. We heard some exceptional speakers and it certainly gave me knowledge to take away to help better serve my clients.


Elliot Eisenberg, PhD gave a very enthusiastic and robust talk about the world economy. I wish he was my professor at university! I was rapidly writing notes and would like to highlight a few of his comments.

In summary:


  • Powers on at #2 performing economy next to the US
  • Uncertainty is high as 3/4 of exports are to the United States
  • Trump needs NAFTA and free trade
  • Unemployment in Canada is 5.8% which is excellent and is a result of a healthy immigration plan
  • Manufacturing is performing well
  • Migration helps GDP
  • House prices are recovering well


  • Europe is an area that can’t afford higher interest rates as it is not performing as well as the US.
  • Europe’s GDO is 1.6% which is just ok as there are growth problems, e.g. running out of workers with no population growth
  • If Europe’s UE falls any more then Europe will have to raise interest rates
  • France is weak
  • Italy is weak
  • Germany is stronger but has political problems
  • Brexit is really hurting Europe and the UK as they are both in a state of uncertainty.  Brexit must be implemented very slowly and carefully to avoid any drastic upset to the Euro/UK economies


  • US economy is doing fine with GDP up and things are plugging along however not quite as robust as a year ago
  • The biggest cause for concern right now is corporate debt and the risk of higher interest rates coming off a 10-year period of extremely low rates
  • He did say right now the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  79% of wealth in the US is among 10% of households
  • A trade war is a great concern to the world economy. There is big uncertainty as to what will happen between US and China as well as Canada. With $600 billion of GDP impacted by trade sanctions if a trade war hit it could reduce GDP by 1%.
  • US shipping activity and consumer confidence are at all time highs. Car sales are good but limited in growth as they are so expensive
  • Corporate profits are at an all time record.  Manufacturing sector is having its third best in 20 years.
  • Service industry is performing well
  • Capital goods orders are showing strong growth
  • He noted that tax policy is driving the surge in GDP with a corporate tax cut and a cut in personal tax rate
  • He also pointed out that the large federal deficit seen in this year’s budget is a bit tenuous as social assistance is currently low and the US has the greatest deficit since WWII
  • 3.9% is a remarkably low unemployment rate, noting it was 13% in 2008 but this can become a problem without immigration. Wage inflation may become a problem and the Feds need to keep inflation contained
  • Japan has been in a deflationary period for so long it can’t even imagine an inflationary period
  • Interest rates in the US will rise this month to 2 1/4% to 2 3/4 % and 10 year to 3.25% -3.5%
  • A recession is predicted in 2020 and the question is to what level. This happens when we see an interest rate inversion between long term and short term interest rates. Last seen in 1993 where short term money was 3.5% and long term money was -0.5%
  • US home production is way down because they are under-building. The homes not being built are the entry level homes
  • Foreigners are buying homes in the US but there is no new product
  • Lending is appropriate now vs 2008
  • Home prices are increasing from an average of $400,000 in 2008 to $600,000 now


  • Suffering from both political trauma and trade trauma
  • NAFTA fears have subsided
  • Both the stock market and capital investment are performing ok so they are skirting a recession
  • Caribbean countries are quite weak and Venezuela is in chaos due to political instability


Recreational Properties Sales

There was a panel of four speakers: Michelle Sullivan of Christie’s International Real Estate (CIRE) Aspen, Ricardo Costa, owner of LUXIMO’s Portugal, David Fetveit of PureWest Realty of Flathead Valley, Montana and Ruth Gustafson of Provenance Properties, Cayman Islands. It was interesting to hear about their markets and the creative ways they use the Christie’s affiliation to sell their properties. Each market is quite different.

Michelle Sullivan of Aspen shared her creative marketing ideas and she consistently writes a blog about interesting things to do in Aspen. Aspen combines the best of two worlds. It offers the great outdoors–skiing, fly fishing, hiking–yet also has art galleries and sophisticated shops and restaurants.  She likes to take her clients to enjoy everything Aspen has to offer in addition to just showing properties. Michelle shared that Aspen is quite strong and there is a lack inventory especially in the $5,000,000 zone. Big ticket properties north of $10,000,000 take a little longer.

The Montana real estate market is made up of buyers that are predominantly third home owners and still has not completely recovered from 2008. Things tend to stay on market much longer than other areas. He mentioned that his biggest marketing tool is selling the natural landscape.

Portugal’s Ricardo Costa touted it as one of the safest countries in Europe and said people look to invest there for that reason in addition to the beauty, history and culture.

The Cayman Islands are small and Ruth Gustafson said she sells “the island life” with buyers coming predominately from the US and Canada.

432 Park Avenue

Hearing Matthew Bannister describe the efforts his team at DBox put into the marketing of the iconic 432 Park Avenue   was captivating.  The creativity of marketing for a large NYC development certainly inspires a realtor moving forward in marketing a luxury property. 432 Park Avenue is 1400 feet high and 84 stories of absolute minimalism at its best with a mere six windows across on each side. They picked up on the fact the Empire State is reflected on the side of the building and put that concept to work.  This was a large scale development, though I certainly got tips on how to come up with a marketing plan that will entice a buyer to a unique luxury property on a smaller scale. The marketing video for this property was so impressive, using ballet dancers perched on the floor to ceiling windows and a tight rope walker that walks from the top of the Empire State building to this unique condo, the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere when it was built.  Please be sure to click the link to see the incredible marketing of this building. DBox created a campaign that would entice a sophisticated audience to put down a deposit on this stunning piece of architecture that is minimalism at its best. 

Other Highlights

We had quite a few other speakers from various firms including Eric Gold of Hilton and Hyland in LA and Robin Milonakis of First Team Real Estate in Orange County giving us tips on achieving success. My takeaways were:

  • Be a contrarian
  • Be original
  • Be valuable
  • Be creative
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Listen to your client’s needs
  • Give back

Because Chestnut Park has an affiliation with luxury brand Christie’s, a common misconception is that we are only working the luxury markets. The best line I heard at this conference was luxury defined as the luxury service I provide my clients! Truly that is how I operate. It doesn’t matter if it is Toronto’s smallest house or a multi-million dollar estate. I  provide you with LUXURY service from beginning to end, and always a follow-up after closing.

One final highlight of the trip was dinner and cocktails at the Rainbow Room at the Top of the Rockefeller Plaza. The views of the city were incredible as was the space and, of course, the company of the many fabulous realtors that make up Christie’s International Real Estate. If you are thinking of buying outside of Toronto, please let me know and I can put you in touch with one of the many exceptional realtors that work in the area that interests you.



Helen Braithwaite, Sales Representative
SRS®, SRES®, ABR®, ePro Agent®, CLHMS® | Luxury Specialist
Chairman’s Award 2017 | Director’s Award 2016
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage
An Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate
Office: 416.925.9191 | Cell: 416.561.3114
1300 Yonge Street, Suite 100Toronto, ON, Canada M4T 1X3 |

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