Christie’s, Aspen Associates Realty link arms in new deal | AspenTimes.com

Christie’s, Aspen Associates Realty link arms in new deal

An international real estate firm and an Aspen-based brokerage are joining forces.

Christie's International Real Estate, fresh after opening an Aspen office in October, and independent firm Aspen Associates Realty reached an agreement scheduled to be made public today.

"It wasn't necessarily a merger and there was a little buyout, but technically we became part of Christie's," Chris Flynn, who founded Aspen Associates in 2005, said Thursday.

Aspen Associates has dropped its name as part of the deal, Flynn said, noting it will operate under the Christie's banner at its office on the 500 block of East Hyman Avenue.

Christie's debuted its Aspen brokerage, on the 600 block of East Hopkins Avenue, in October through Alex and Laren Jansen, founders of Coastal Properties Group International, a Christie's affiliate in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area.

The newest alliance, according to a news release, came about when "Christie's International Real Estate approached (Aspen Associates) with the opportunity to become founding owners in the Aspen brokerage and grow the company together, while maintaining the history and culture already in place in the Aspen Associates team."

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The former Aspen Associates firm's partners include Flynn, Scott Davidson, Tony DiLucia, Ryan Elston and Colter Smith; the firm has another 10 broker associates. They will work for the new Christie's office.

"We are thrilled that the partners in Aspen Associates saw the value of the brand and business and agreed to join as owners in the Christie's International Real Estate Aspen brokerage," said Dan Conn, CEO of Christie's International Real Estate, in a prepared remark, noting the firm's expansion into Aspen "forms part of Christie's broader plan to ensure that the brand is both represented and prominently displayed in key strategic markets throughout the United States."

Flynn said the firm had been in talks with Christie's for about five years. Other real estate companies also had approached Aspen Associates about potential mergers or acquisitions, Flynn said. "I think we bucked the trend purposely because we were running very well, even in the last downturn, and then when most of the consolidation happened," he said, in reference to such national firms as Coldwell Banker, Compass Real Estate and Sotheby's International either buying or establishing affiliations with Aspen brokerages over the past decade or so. Most of the consolidations came during the Great Recession, while more recently Aspen brokerages have been seeking more firepower — from technology to more expansive listings — by linking arms with the larger, national realty companies.

"Although we have researched and discussed opportunities with other companies and/or brands, this was just more intriguing because it's our group with a new group coming to Aspen, and we can build from there," Flynn said.

Christie's International Real Estate, formerly Christie's Great Estates, is a subsidiary of upscale auction house Christie's. The auction house was founded in 1766; the realty arm was established more than two centuries later, in 1995.

Christie's International Real Estate has offices in London, New York City, Hong Kong, Moscow, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, and now Aspen. It also has more than 135 affiliated brokerages, and the company recorded approximately $500 billion of real estate transactions over the past five years, according to media material from Christie's.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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