In this issue of About Him, One Coast catches up with Mr Norbert Witterich, Norbert long term Expat in Phuket has just opened a Real Estate Agency for the famous and well respected Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, of course we had to find out more.
You have been on the island for a long time. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what landed you in Phuket?
I have been in Phuket since 1997 so you are right, I am a true vintage islander but I haven’t forgotten about my roots. I was born in Flensburg, North of Germany. I enjoyed water sports and sunny weather as a kid but it is only much later that I decided the cold weather wasn’t for me. I started my career in IT and found out that connecting with others was more important to ME than monitoring or fixing system performances so I looked at other opportunities, which led me to run my very first property business. Like many it was a holiday to Thailand that got me hooked and to start a whole new life in this part of the world.
What has kept you busy over the years?
A short venture related to chartering followed by a different activity managing my first real estate agency, family, friends and the perks of living the island life while enjoying the opportunity to travel occasionally. In a nutshell…life!
You made the news recently by launching Coldwell Banker Global Luxury in Phuket. What is the story behind this new operation?
I wanted to sign a contract with an established international Real Estate brand for a long time. I first became aware of Coldwell Banker during one of many trips to the U.S. to visit my daughter who is attending High School in Florida. After that I kept noticing branches in many prime locations so I decided one day to push the doors of several agencies to ask a few questions. Every time, the teams were enthusiastic about working with the brand. By chance or fate, when I arrived back in Thailand, I spotted an ad at the US embassy mentioning that Coldwell Banker was looking to open a branch in Phuket…the rest is history. After some negotiations, Coldwell Banker opened in Phuket in May 2017.
How is Coldwell Banker different from other real estate agents on the island?
Coldwell Banker is no ordinary real estate agency for a reason. Many reasons in fact. For a start, the brand is very well established with a strong history anchored in more than a century of innovation. Second its 3000 offices in 50 countries and 88,000 affiliated agents deliver a whooping turnover of USD 134 Million per day illustrating what reach and brand power can achieve. This is important for our clients as our strong network and Multiple Listing System enable us to get their properties in front of affluent buyers globally. Through its 360 degrees borderless marketing approach including print media, social media, mobile, public relations and a dedicated digital suite, Coldwell Banker is setting the standard of how the world’s finest estates are bought and sold today. As an example, it’s social media presence with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube…generated an astounding 79 million engagements with brand content last year. In addition, we bring to the market outstanding insider knowledge of the island with 20 years of experience as a local realtor (previously Sea-Property) along with a strong desire to exceed expectations and create exceptional experiences for all our clients. We pride ourselves in knowing each property inside out and on establishing lasting relationships and many friendships too along the way. In summary, we believe that with a solid base, global connections, luxury leadership, marketing excellence, knowledge and bespoke customer service, the extraordinary is possible.
What was your biggest success/deal during your career?
My biggest success is to be here sitting in front of you and smiling after twenty years in the business. I have signed many exciting deals over the years but I view true success as the sum of all the small and big things that we are able to achieve as a team each day.
What did you learn from your 20 years of experience as a realtor in Phuket?
I learned that to survive in a dynamic and volatile environment, it is important to build a positive team, solve for customers, be ready to reinvent yourself and love what you do.
How do you see the Phuket real estate market evolving in the future?
I am confident for 2017-2018. The government is investing in infrastructure, several new projects and hotels are in the pipeline, new malls will be ready to open soon etc. The buyer demographics have changed and there are challenges but there are also clear opportunities in the market. We are seeing a lot of interest at all levels even if the lower priced housing options continue to top sales in terms of volume. We are expecting an additional boost from joining the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury program through unique access to a large database of wealthy clients seeking the type of lifestyle and infrastructure that Phuket offers.
What top tips would you give first time buyers?
1. Get to know the Island
2. Define your requirements
3. Talk to a reputable and knowledgeable agent
4. View a selection of properties
5. Found your dream house? Hire a trusted lawyer to conduct due diligence and review the contract.
How do you start and end your day?
I am a very early bird. I love to wake up at 5am and get a coffee on my terrace before I go through my emails followed by some light exercise, breakfast with family, a trip to bring the kids to school and the office. I enjoy spending evenings surrounded with family and friends for a sunset drink or around a tasty dinner.
Are you a family man or a businessman?
Both, often mixing the two as my beautiful wife works with me and our kids give us a helping hand when needed.
As a true Phuketian what are your favourite spots on the island?
Catch Beach Club for a good night out, Twinpalms for a Sunday brunch, Cuts for a steak, Artisans for its delicious salads, Suay for Thai-fusion in Phuket town…
Tell us something that few people know about you.
A friend and I built a 20m steel boat in a Thai Shipyard.
Thank you, Norbert, for taking the time for this interview and we wish you much success with the new agency in Phuket.