Realogy is set to add another franchise to its slate of real estate brands in 2019, and that new brand could be devoted to anything from luxury real estate to a virtual brokerage approach.
CEO Ryan Schneider announced the plan during the company’s second-quarter earnings call Friday morning.
The real estate behemoth already operates several of the best-known names in real estate: Better Homes and Gardens, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA Real Estate and Sotheby’s International Realty. But the company acknowledges that there are segments of the real estate market it’s missing.
“There are a couple niches in the market that are both a little bit underserved overall and underserved by Realogy,” Schneider said Friday.
What could those be? Schneider said that Realogy is definitely adding one franchise to its slate but could add more than one.
Real estate professionals watching Realogy think the company — which has placed an emphasis on technology since Schneider took the helm less than a year ago — will likely make technology a core part of any new brands.
“I could see it being something that meshes with technology,” Nick Quay, a Miami-based agent with Realogy’s Coldwell Banker, said.
Schneider clarified when asked on the earnings call that Realogy’s next brand wouldn’t be solely focused on technology. He said Realogy’s next brand would differentiate itself through its physical presence or customer segment targeting.
Schneider might be attempting to ward off suspicion that Realogy plans to make any drastic changes such as moving into iBuying.
Realogy could add a brand devoted solely to the high end of the luxury market even though many of its brands already work in luxury real estate, Jeff Lobb, founder of the real estate speaking and coaching firm SparkTank Media, said.
Or the company could introduce an offshoot that offers a commission split or compensation model that could compete with Keller Williams and Re/Max.
“I don’t think they have a forward-facing tech brand that can compete with the commission split of the KW’s,” Lobb said. “They’re not going to go virtual, in my opinion. They still believe in brick-and-mortar.”
Teresa Fisher Boardman, a broker-owner in Saint Paul, Minnesota, wrote in Inman’s Coast to Coast Facebook group that she thought Realogy would make its next brand agent-focused.
“I’ll bet they will have offices that look like coffee shops, online record keeping systems for the agents (AKA agent technology) and be agent focused,” Boardman wrote.
Keller Williams New Jersey associate broker Eric Axelson added on Facebook that a new franchise could still be virtual even if its differentiating factor isn’t technology.
“They said it will not be technology-based. It may be virtual and/or may serve a niche customer segment,” he wrote.
Even as speculation mounts, some in real estate pointed out that Realogy probably has the best sense of what to do.
“I’m no expert but they seem to have built a few successful brands,” California broker Lee Arnold wrote on Facebook. “So I’m thinking they may know what they’re doing.”