BizCourier 2day: Sotheby’s International Realty enters Cincy market with local powerhouse, Robinson Realtors, forming Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty


Philip White (left), Prez/COO of Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates, with his newest partner, Lee Robinson of Robinson Sotheby's International Realty (


When Lee Robinson, owner and president of Robinson Realtors Inc., chose to redefine the future of his elite real estate agency – already renowned in Greater Cincinnati for its high-end portfolio of work in Hyde Park, Mount Adams and other prominent East Side and Northern Kentucky neighborhoods – he didn’t have to look far.

Opportunity literally came knocking late last year in the form of an old friend: the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, with whom Robinson had been introduced to a decade before.

This time, however, their tango is more than a tryst.




Sotheby’s International Realty clientele are connoisseurs of life.

In Cincinnati, the newly formed company of Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty is headquartered at the former Robinson Realtors in Hyde Park, which just recently expanded its offices.

The company of 12 respected Realtors will grow to 30 select agents in the next two years and believes that, over time, expanding to 40-50 top quality agents will make a perfect complement to the Greater Cincinnati marketplace.

Founded in 1986 by Lee Robinson, Robinson Realtors is a third-generation, boutique agency renowned for excellence.  The firm remains 100% locally owned and operated.

After exhaustive due diligence and consulting with his agents, staff, friends, colleagues, and family, Robinson has agreed to launch a new company today, Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty.


The Team: Robinson Sotheby's International Realty



“Robinson Realtors and its distinguished sales associates are well-established in the community, serving discerning clients for nearly 25 years with expertise, integrity and dedication,” said Philip White, president and chief operating officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.

“We are proud to have them represent our brand in this unique and key market, which offers its residents extraordinary architecture, history and culture,” Mr. White said.

After 24 successful years as Robinson Realtors, the founder, Lee Robinson, was interested in upping the ante in the Cincinnati marketplace. Although already at the top of the real estate game, Robinson realized the benefits of aligning with a globally recognized leader in quality real estate.

“As the marketplace evolves, it is apparent that far more lead generation is not only national, but international,” Robinson said.

“More homes are being purchased by professionals that come to the area from around the globe.  We believe that aligning our successful company with a prestigious global player is well timed. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand has the reputation of being a global player in buyer and seller transactions.

“The Sotheby’s International Realty business model links their global contacts and their expertise with a respected and experienced local brokerage.  They are a great fit with us, because we both have an excellent reputation, and provide both buyers and sellers of real property, in every price range, with a professional partner who will be best in class at meeting their needs.

“This is an exciting development at a time when the housing market has experienced unprecedented uncertainty,” Robinson said.


“I was cautious. It wasn’t an easy decision. I knew exactly who they were, but I wasn’t quick to jump in at that time,” said Robinson of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s late 2009 overture.

“We are purposefully small, by design. Our quality niche is something a lot of companies have sought. Over the 24 years that I’ve invested in building this business, I have received 30-40 high-level solicitations from local and national companies to affiliate, merge, or joint venture.

“But it’s never made sense – until now.”


Lee Robinson


Robinson and his confidantes wrestled with the decision for nine months.

He traveled to a Sotheby’s International Realty conference.

He met with and consulted other brokers who had joined.

He ticks off the positives:

– A global marketing plan;

– An international network, global referrals and worldwide resources;

– The new company will remain 100% locally owned and operated;

–  The indefinable equity, luxury and panache of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand;

–  Volume-based purchasing efficiencies for advertising, public relations and marketing materials;

–  More than two centuries of experience servicing higher-end clientele.

“I was impressed enough by the Sotheby’s International Realty brand 10 years ago, but at that time, they were only in a handful of major markets and Cincinnati was not on their radar,” Robinson said.

“I liked the fact that they have extremely high standards about who they select and how they do business.


Joe Miller with Robinson Sotheby's International Realty - Photographer to the Stars


“What happened was a broker here in Cincinnati reached out to the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, because they wanted it. That other broker wanted to represent the brand in Cincinnati,” Robinson continued.

“The Sotheby’s International Realty brand then did their own independent research on Cincinnati, and determined which brokerages were candidates they were willing to consider.

“They wanted to align themselves with whomever was the right fit. Lucky for us, their research indicated Robinson Realtors was the top choice. I was resistant, but I allowed the door to remain open because of who they are,” Robinson added.

In true Cincinnati style, I was conservative in my receipt. I told them yes, I was impressed with the brand, and it was a compliment just to be considered. No question. But this was a huge decision.”

“I talked to many of their brokers, and asked some tough questions. Almost unanimously, every person I talked to said the brand marked a clear beneficial change for them.  It was opening doors that otherwise they would never have been invited to walk through,” Robinson concluded.

Absolute proof of the brand’s power: Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty has already absorbed a long-standing prestigious company, Larry Stillpass Inc., and its four agents.

Stillpass and Amanda Voss, his vice president, felt their clientele would be best-served in the future with the exceptional tools, systems, and marketing prowess of the brand.

Founded in 1986 – and prior to merging with Sotheby’s International RealtyRobinson Realtors was a purposely small, full-service agency.

The Robinson Sotheby’s sales roster includes Realtors Clint Copenhaver, John Cronin, Cynthia Dammel, Gina Elliott, Carrie Hinde, Tim Hinde, Lee Robinson, Ernie Waxman, Patty Williams and Sarah Wilmers. Cindy Wiley, Joe Miller and Bonnie Schlosser support them.

The firm did $26 million home sales volume in 2009, ranking 16th on the Largest Tri-State Residential Real Estate firms list published May 14, 2010 by the Cincinnati Business Courier. The company projects 2010 home sales volume of $28 million. 

Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world.

In February 2004, Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a full franchise system by Realogy’s subsidiary, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.

Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications.

Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Franchise affiliates also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit

To contact Mr. Robinson, please send an e-mail to or drop him a line at (513) 321-6000.

For media inquiries regarding Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty in the Queen City, please contact Mr. Andy Hemmer, aka TheWritingFiend@Large at (513) 604-5428 or

Big ups to the Cincinnati Business Courier and Senior Reporter Dan Monk for their interest in today’s story. Online it’s:

Robinson Sotheby's International Realty in The Cincinnati Business Courier - 10.8.10



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