Interviews | Chris Lazare Shares Insights on Luxury Real Estate in Mauritius - Exclusive Interview

Interview - Chris Lazare – Director, Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty

1. Hello Chris! You lead the Mauritian branch of Sotheby’s International Realty, a network present in more than 80 countries around the world, specializing in exceptional real estate properties. What have been the major steps in your establishment?

The brand was established in Mauritius in 2015 under the ENL group, before being bought by my partner Timo Geldenhuys and myself in 2020. We took over the agency in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, with all the challenges that entailed, including the closure of borders and successive lockdowns. Keeping a newly acquired business afloat under such conditions was not easy. Through perseverance and patience, we were able to set up our structures, consolidate our teams, and establish a solid foundation for our business. Today, despite a tumultuous start, we are ranked among the top three real estate agencies on the island in terms of performance.

2. What led Sotheby’s International Realty to take an interest in Mauritius?

Firstly, Sotheby’s International Realty is an international brand present in 84 countries and territories, representing a sales value of USD 143 billion in 2023. Like Sotheby’s auction houses, the real estate agencies of this brand aim to represent the most exclusive properties in their respective markets and to connect these properties with niche buyers from around the world.
Mauritius remains a dream destination, and it's important to highlight that, like in hospitality, real estate in Mauritius includes international brands such as Four Seasons, Shangri-la, One & Only, etc. This demonstrates that the country remains a high-end destination. Moreover, we offer a wide variety of offerings, such as golf courses, beachfront properties, marinas, etc. These attractions make Mauritius a choice destination for a brand like Sotheby’s International Realty.

3. Given your history and positioning, do you offer a different service from other real estate agencies in Mauritius?

We do not just sell exceptional homes, but also an exceptional lifestyle, and to do this, our service must be just as exceptional.
From the buyer’s perspective, apart from new projects, we have an inventory of exclusive properties, giving us a definite advantage - we can offer a wider choice to our buyers. Moreover, it's important to highlight our deep market knowledge - our agents are constantly informed about the real estate market's performance, both internationally and in Mauritius, which allows us to guide our transactions towards fair and equitable offers.

From the seller’s perspective, who is also our client, we bring our marketing expertise, enhanced by the considerable support of our international brand, giving us a definite advantage in our respective markets. Our colleagues from the brand established in France, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, and around the world offer us marketing support when needed.

4. Is the absence of true exclusivity in the real estate sales system in Mauritius a problem for a brand like Sotheby’s International Realty, specialized in the exceptional?

It's true that the real estate market is relatively limited in Mauritius compared to other destinations in the world such as Turkey or the United Kingdom, among others. There are many agencies on the island, with developers representing several portfolios, which democratizes access to certain real estate projects.

However, exclusivity does exist, whether on new projects developed by major international brands offering superb villas, or on the resale market. This exclusivity exists in Mauritius, but it comes at a price, and one must search carefully to find these hidden gems - that's where our strength lies, we know our market and have this exclusive inventory.

5. With an international network, you can find exceptional properties all over the world. What proportion of your business represents sales outside of Mauritius? In other words, do Mauritians invest abroad?

We have received requests for properties abroad during our international campaigns, precisely because our brand is recognized worldwide. This includes foreign clients who go through our agency in Mauritius to buy in other countries. However, encouraging international sales - that is, local buyers investing abroad - is not at the core of our business model. Thus, although we are able to connect a local client with our colleagues around the world for a sale, it is not our main priority.

6. Regarding rentals, do you focus on long-term leases, or do the characteristics of your most exotic properties also allow you to offer short-term rentals?

Our market positioning focuses exclusively on long-term rentals. This aligns with our approach to exclusivity, where we connect these exceptional properties with clients seeking an extraordinary life on the island.

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