Fresh on the heels of a record-setting year, Sotheby’s International Realty announced Tuesday plans to consolidate the franchise and company-owned businesses under a single umbrella.

Fresh on the heels of a record-setting year, Sotheby’s International Realty announced Tuesday plans to consolidate the franchise and company-owned businesses under one leadership umbrella.

Philip White | Credit: Realogy

Philip White, the CEO and president of Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates, will oversee the new leadership team, with former Sotheby’s International Realty company-owned brokerage leader Kathy Korte transitioning into an advisory role focused on business growth and agent support.

“It makes sense,” White told Inman. “This way we can be much more strategic in growing the business. We can be much more strategic in terms of making sure what we’re providing our agents and brokers is spot-on and the best equipment to provide a luxury real estate agent.”

Planning for the massive re-structuring has been underway for several months according to White, and the franchise-affiliated and company-owned sides have already been working together closely.

The move actually brings Sotheby’s International Realty back to its roots. When the brand launched in 1976 to provide real estate services of Sotheby’s auction house, both franchise and company-owned operations were under one CEO.

White told Inman the move comes as parent company Realogy is investing in the brand through marketing and the opening of new flagship offices for company-owned locations. Sotheby’s plans to launch a new website this year for its company-owned and franchise brokerages.

“We think agents on the company-owned side will see the big plus for them,” White said. “We think that being able to strategically grow the business will create more opportunity for them.”

The move follows recent remarks by Ryan Schneider about making the companies under Realogy’s umbrella more efficient and nimble.

“This business move supports the plan for Realogy to go from a traditional company to an operator of great brands,” White said.

White has been with Sotheby’s International Realty for the past 14 years, serving as chief operating office and president prior to his appointment as CEO. Under his leadership, Sotheby’s International Realty’s franchise affiliates closed a company record $112 billion in sales last year – up from just $4.2 billion in his first year with the company.

Sotheby’s franchise footprint now spans 990 offices in 72 countries with approximately 22,000 agents. On the company-owned side, Sotheby’s has 43 offices in 13 markets across the country.

The move also leaves Coldwell Banker as the only Realogy brand with separate leadership teams on the franchise and company-owned side. Sotheby’s will now operate more similarly to Corcoran, which began franchising earlier this year.

“Across Realogy, we continue to look for ways to better serve affiliated agents and franchisees and help them be more successful,” John Peyton, president and chief executive officer of Realogy Franchise Group, said in a statement. “Bringing together the Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate network with the company-owned brokerage will allow the brand to move faster, better support affiliated agent needs and take advantage of the scale, market expertise and operational excellence that will come from an aligned organization.”

Kathy Korte | Credit: Realogy

Korte, in a statement, said she was excited about the future of Sotheby’s International Realty under White’s leadership.

“Having all the confidence in the world in [White’s] ability to draw upon his decades-long brokerage and affiliate experience to lead the newly joined organization, I am excited about the future of Sotheby’s International Realty,” said Korte.

The shift comes at a time when Realogy’s stock is at an all-time low after its fourth-quarter earnings came in with less-than-expected revenue and a miss on earnings per share guidance.

Realogy is the largest real estate holding company in the country, overseeing the nation’s top brokerage, NRT, as well as franchise brands Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Climb, Corcoran and ERA Real Estate.

Email Patrick Kearns

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