Q&A profile: Local luxury-home Realtor celebrates 20th anniversary

Sandra Wilkins, center, celebrates her 20th anniversary with fellow friends and agents.

Sandra Wilken, center, celebrates her 20th anniversary with fellow friends and agents.

Leading luxury real estate firm Engel & Völkers Scottsdale, formally known as Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Sandra Wilken, founder and designated broker for Engel & Völkers Scottsdale, has worked diligently the past two decades to earn her firm’s standing as Arizona’s most exclusive, boutique luxury real estate firm.

Sandra Wilkins

Sandra Wilken

Through the years, Ms. Wilken has grown her network, representing buyers and sellers in Arizona’s most prestigious neighborhoods to create a unique, concierge-style service. With her famous “Little Black Book” of resources, Ms. Wilken and he 21 agents over the years have been able to sell the right home to the right buyer, at the right price time and time again.

Over the past 20 years, her firm has sold 3,478 houses — totalling more than $6 billion in real estate transactions; held 7,564 open houses; logged 421,536 hours and driven 5,879,142 miles.

“As a firm, we have come a long way since we opened in 1995,” said Ms. Wilken. “I’ll never forget that first day when we were on our own. We looked at each other and said, ‘is the phone going to ring?’ And now, to see what we’ve grown into, is a wonderful thing.”

In 2013, Ms. Wilken made the decision to merge her well-known firm with the Engel & Völkers brand in order to continue to attract the top advisors and to be a part of a global brand.

“Every place our clients are coming from, we are opening offices left and right,” said Ms. Wilken. “I am passionate about Engel & Völkers’ philosophy on how to serve our unique clients.”

Today, the firm attracts many European and Canadian clientele under the new brand, and still maintains its strong foothold within Arizona’s most distinguished neighborhoods.

Sandra Wilkins, right, recently celebrated her 20th anniversary of serving the luxury-home real estate market in the Northeast Valley.

Sandra Wilken, right, recently celebrated her 20th anniversary of serving the luxury-home real estate market in the Northeast Valley.

“Engel & Völkers Scottsdale is a prime example of our brand’s core principles of unrivaled marketplace knowledge and passion for providing exceptional client service, and we anticipate their continued success,” said Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America.

Ms. Wilken dedicates her personal time to several charitable organizations including Gabriel’s Angels and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

She took a few moments during her recent celebration to answer the following questions.

You’re celebrating your 20th anniversary this year. Tell us, how did you first get into the real estate industry?

I first began working for an architectural firm in Tulsa, Okla. and Dallas, Texas. The head of the firm inspired be to obtain my real estate license so I could first select the ground for the client. Only then could we design the structure/home, do the interior design and finally market and sell the property. Thus my real estate career began. I then moved back to Scottsdale where I started with Coldwell Banker’s first office on Scottsdale and Camelback. All together, I actually have been in the business for 38 years, but I started Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties 20 years ago.

How long have you been in Scottsdale, and what made you choose this area to live and work?

I moved to Scottsdale in 1968 from Boston, Mass. My father’s health caused him to select a dry climate. So, as much as I missed the East Coast I began embracing the warm, sunny climate.

Twenty — or 38 — years is a long time. How has the industry changed during that time?

I have seen everything from 19 percent interest rates, a total “seller’s market,” a total “buyer’s market,” high-end foreclosures and short-sales. Today’s market place has changed in the fact that buyers are more savvy with the internet and knowing what they want before even contacting a Realtor. We need to be at the top of our game to stay one step ahead of the buyers and seller needs.

Scottsdale is world-famous. Does that make it easier to sell homes in Scottsdale? What are some of the challenges unique to this market?

We are totally world-class with all the incredible amenities we bring to the Valley: Sports, golf courses, sunshine, cultural events, etc. We now have it all, which attracts clientele from all over the world and the U.S.

A lot of Realtors and real estate firms have come and gone over the past two decades. What do you attribute your success to, and why have you succeeded?

We are always a step ahead of the game. We focus on our marketplace and the next six months to see what we need to change to accommodate our marketplace for our buyers and sellers.

What’s the most important thing a person should know before buying a home?

Select a top Realtor who can truly educate you on all your different options and locations when purchasing a home.

What’s the most important thing a person should know before selling their home?

Seller’s need to price their home according to current market conditions. There is nothing worse than over-pricing your home and it sits on the market for an extended period of time. When the seller finally becomes realistic in price and reduces it, they finally sell it.

What drives you to succeed and be the best in your chosen profession?

Our clients always come first and we want them to have an incredible experience whether buying or selling a home. Secondly and just as important, is having a great team of support with our company and an outstanding group of advisors who truly enjoy working together as a team.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of selling real estate?

Travel, art, fine wine, fishing, scuba diving, horse back riding, tennis and skiing.

What local charities/nonprofits do you support, and why?

I have supported Gabriel’s Angels for many years. Engel & Völkers National announced a partnership with Special Olympics and its Play United campaign. At our annual company exchange, we raised over $35,000 in a single day. My team and I look forward to continuing this partnership.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the real estate business?

Get the best training you can possibly get and select a mentor who will truly devote the time to helping you learn the correct way to do business.

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