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Sherry Chris, a much-traveled real estate executive who has served in leading roles for major U.S. and Canadian real estate brokerage companies, will take the helm for Realogy’s just-announced Better Homes and Gardens real estate franchise network.

Chris in December 2006 joined Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. Coldwell Banker is a part of Realogy, the largest real estate franchise company. Realogy’s other franchise networks and company-owned brands include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby’s International Realty, among others.

On Monday, Realogy officials announced a 50-year deal with publishing company Meredith Corp. — which owns about 25 subscription magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle and Parents — to license the Better Homes and Gardens real estate brand.

Meredith had operated a Better Homes and Gardens franchise network from 1978-98, and the company sold that business to GMAC and also entered into a licensing agreement to allow GMAC Home Services to use the Better Homes and Gardens trademark for a 10-year period with no option to extend that agreement.

Realogy will launch its Better Homes and Gardens franchise network in July 2008.

Chris has about 27 years of real estate sales and management experience and began her career in 1980. She will report to Alex Perriello, president and CEO of the Realogy Franchise Group.

“What we have now is a clean slate, which to me is very exciting,” Chris told Inman News today. She said she expects to visit frequently with Meredith executives to seek out synergies in marketing.

“People may be asking, ‘Why now?’ ” Chris said, in light of the housing market downturn. But, she said, “It’s a great time to build for the future,” adding that the company has several months to plan for the launch of the new franchise network.

“My role will be to build the platform and work with franchise sales to bring affiliates aboard,” she said. Chris will continue to work out of Realogy’s headquarters in Parsippany, N.J.

There have already been inquiries from brokerage companies about the Better Homes and Gardens brand, Chris said, and as a part of its pre-launch activities the company will create legal documents known as uniform franchise offering circulars, or UFOCs.

Chris had joined Columbus, Ohio-based Real Living Inc. in September 2003 after serving as executive vice president for Royal LePage, one of the largest real estate companies in Canada. Chris oversaw an expansion in Royal LePage’s agent base from 4,000 in 1996 to 9,200 in 2003 and a growth in that company’s market share from 9 percent to about 20 percent during that period.

In 2005, Chris served as the chairperson for The Realty Alliance, a real estate organization that has membership from some of the largest U.S. and Canadian real estate companies.

Also that year, Chris left Real Living to serve as chief operations officer at Prudential CA/NV/TX Realty.

In her latest role as chief operating officer for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Chris directed the company’s operations, education, mortgage and field services programs and also coordinated communications between Coldwell Banker corporate headquarters, regional offices and its international affiliate network, which has about 4,000 offices globally.

Chris serves on advisory boards for several real estate firms, including Trulia.com and Google Real Estate.

Realogy, a spin-off of Cendant Corp., this year was acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Management L.P., a private equity and capital markets investment company.

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