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MICHAELA BANCUD - Joe Reitzug and Rebecca Green at the Sotheby's openingSotheby’s International Realty held an opening party for its new office in Portland’s Pearl District complete with valet parking for the high-heeled set, and glasses of Chardonnay.

Sotheby’s, founded in London in the 1800s, may be best known as a fine art and antiques auction house. Its first real estate franchise opened in 2004.

The Pearl office joins forces with Sotheby’s Cascade, a regional division of the international realty firm that includes offices in Vancouver, Lake Oswego, Sunriver, Bend and Sisters. Sotheby’s now controls 26 percent of the residential listings in Central Oregon, where Debra Tebbs founded the Cascade team in 2006.

The Pearl office is designed to look and feel like a living room. Portraits of luxury properties hang like art on the walls so that prospective buyers, and the merely curious, can peruse them.

“This office will be our social hub,” says Rebecca Green, Cascade Sotheby’s director of marketing and business development. First Thursday art openings are planned, in keeping with the Pearl’s own traditions. In the meantime, Green says the firm is scouting locations for a larger Portland flagship office.

What Sotheby’s has to offer, says Green, is everything its historic name implies: quality, expertise and experience.

“It comes down to exposure,” says Green of the difference between Sotheby’s and competitors. “We’re national, international, and now regional offices. A lot of that exposure goes outside the area.”

Sotheby’s online gallery displays listings across the globe, in Venice, India and Bend.

“The local market is good. In the last 10 days we’ve had nine people from out of state offices with clients looking to move to Portland,” says Green.

There are currently 112 registered real estate branch offices in Portland, according to figures provided by Erica Kleiner of the State of Oregon’s Real Estate Agency. Fourteen are located in the Pearl District’s 97209 zip code, where veteran firms such as Hoyt Street Properties, Realty Trust and Debbie Thomas Real Estate have each had offices for well over a decade.

One street in the Pearl has two small agencies — Pearl District Properties and the Hallett Group — sharing the same half block.

“Of course it’s competitive,” says Green, “but we always want to be good partners. The industry is a little fragmented, with so many agents leaving larger companies to start their own small offices, but I couldn’t think of a better time to enter the Portland market.”

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