Tree.com, parent company of online mortgage giant LendingTree.com, has appointed Steve Ozonian as the first CEO of its Real Estate.com division, the company announced today.
RealEstate.com operates a national property search site and RealEstate.com, Realtors, a company-owned brokerage business with more than 800 sales agents.
Ozonian’s appointment is effective immediately. He had been executive chairman of Global Mobility Solutions, a relocation support company, since 2005.
A 25-year real estate industry veteran, Ozonian has also held positions as a senior executive at RE/MAX International Inc., chairman and CEO of Prudential Real Estate Services, CEO of Realtor.com, national homeownership executive of Bank of America, and CEO and board chairman at Help-U-Sell Real Estate. He has been a member of Tree.com’s board of directors since 2008.
"Steve has been a tremendous asset to us as a Tree.com board member and I’m thrilled he’ll be leading our RealEstate.com business," said Doug Lebda, chairman and CEO of Tree.com, in a statement.
"His diverse experience in all key components of the homeownership process, both online and offline, make him a natural fit to lead the company. His vision for providing brokers and agents with a more economically sustainable real estate model will revolutionize the industry and provide consumers with a superior homebuying and selling experience."
With Ozonian’s appointment, the company also announced a change in RealEstate.com’s business model. The company will create its first franchising opportunity — a trademark license company that will allow agents and brokers to license the Real Estate.com brand. The new model will allow them to "take advantage of lower costs and greater flexibility than found in a traditional franchise arrangement," the announcement said.
The company also plans to include resources from Tree.com and LendingTree.com on the RealEstate.com site, including tips and tools like payment calculators and ways to connect with direct lenders to make the homebuying experience more seamless for consumers, according to a spokesperson. The company has not yet decided how it will implement that change.
"The powerful combination of Tree.com, LendingTree and RealEstate.com offers a unique and valuable proposition for both consumers and real estate professionals," Ozonian said in a statement. "This new model positions RealEstate.com as an industry trailblazer, providing more flexibility for brokers given current economic conditions while simultaneously offering a more integrated approach for homebuyers and sellers in today’s market."