Real estate giant Realogy — which operates franchise brands including Century 21, ERA, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and owns the nation’s largest brokerage — has formed a company called “ZapLabs” tasked with developing technology for affiliated brokerages and agents, as well as other businesses operated by Realogy, such as relocation and settlement services.

  • Realogy has unveiled ZapLabs, a new company formed out of ZipRealty's technology department.
  • ZapLabs will continue to provide the Zap platform to Realogy's affiliated agents and brokerages, but will also develop technology for Realogy's other businesses.

The second-most valuable real estate company (after Zillow Group) has minted a real estate tech firm.

Real estate giant Realogy has formed a company called “ZapLabs” tasked with developing technology for affiliated brokerages and agents, as well as other businesses operated by Realogy, such as relocation and settlement services.

Realogy operates franchise brands including Century 21, ERA, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and owns the nation’s largest brokerage, NRT.

ZapLabs team celebrates the news at its headquarters in Emeryville, California.

ZapLabs team celebrates the news at its headquarters in Emeryville, California.

ZapLabs has 95 employees and succeeds the tech department of ZipRealty, a brokerage that Realogy acquired for $166 million in 2014 to energize its technology offerings. That team is now Realogy’s “innovation and technology hub.”

The move underscores a growing recognition among industry players that technology may be key to remaining competitive.

Realogy said that the new company’s name reflects a broad focus on “accelerating change within the real estate industry” and allows Realogy to distinguish its technology operations from the brokerage ZipRealty, which Realogy will continue to operate under that name.

“We are all about creating meaningful and effective technology solutions for affiliated brokers and agents so they can offer a cutting-edge experience for the online consumer, and our new company name reflects that mission,” said Jake Lyman, chief product operations officer at ZapLabs, in a statement.

“We will always be proud of our founding DNA as a real estate brokerage.”

Acquisition of ZipRealty and Zap capabilities

Realogy originally bought ZipRealty so that it could extend the brokerage’s technology platform — now known as the “Zap” platform — to agents and brokerages affiliated with Realogy.

Zap encompasses broker and agent websites, a customer relationship management system (CRM) including app and desktop versions, a mobile app for consumers, a search-engine marketing program and an app store full of third-party products that integrate with the Zap platform.

Zap has so far been rolled out to over 880 Realogy brand-affiliated brokerages and over 48,000 sales associates across the nation, Realogy says.

In addition, approximately 15 vendors are currently integrated with Zap and consequently available through the ZapStore for brokers to extend to their agents.

“Every day we continue to deliver the Zap ecosystem deeper into Realogy’s franchise networks — and we are passionate about developing new technologies that have the power to transform the consumer experience,” said Jamie Wilson, president and CEO of ZapLabs and the former CEO of ZipRealty.

Non-brokerage companies operated by Realogy that ZapLabs could develop technology for would include Cartus, a worldwide provider of relocation services, and Title Resource Group (TRG), a provider of title, settlement and underwriting services.

Realogy and Zillow have traded the mantle of “most valuable real estate company” over the last two years. Currently, Zillow wears the crown, with a valuation of $5.8 billion, compared to Realogy’s $4.4 billion.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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