A new partnership between NRT’s Coldwell Banker brokerages and home services marketplace HomeAdvisor launched today that will let sellers undertake a variety of repair and staging projects with no upfront costs.
The program is dubbed RealVitalize and lets Coldwell Banker agents connect their clients to project consultants who work for HomeAdvisor, which has its own app and offers to connect homeowners to various local repair professionals. The HomeAdvisor consultant then discusses projects with the seller with the goal of getting a home ready to go on the market.
Once the seller chooses specific projects, HomeAdvisor manages the work from start to finish, according to a statement from NRT parent company Realogy. Projects that are available through the program include painting, upgrades for kitchens and bathrooms, staging, handyman services and various other non-structural work.
Significantly, neither the agent nor the homeowner has to pay for the work upfront. Instead, the “brokerage will cover the upfront costs of the repairs, which will be repaid by the seller when the property sale closes or the listing expires,” the statement explains.
“There are no additional fees to participate in the program and no minimum listing price,” Realogy’s statement added.
Agents also don’t have to manage or track projects, with that task instead being handled by HomeAdvisor.
Right now, RealVitalize is available as a pilot program through Coldwell Banker branded brokerages of NRT in Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; and Orlando and Tampa, in Florida. NRT is a subsidiary of Realogy and manages brokerages that are owned outright by the firm, as opposed to franchises that are owned by local operators.
Realogy’s statement described RealVitalize as an “exclusive offering for NRT’s Coldwell Banker clients,” and the company is planning a “rapid” rollout across the country later this year.
Additionally, a Realogy spokesperson told Inman in an email that the company wants “to ensure that this program is available to the entire Coldwell Banker network; our company-owned operations as well as for our affiliates.”
“We are rapidly expanding this year and look forward to making expansion announcements in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson added.
The fact that RealVitalize appears poised to rollout across both company-owned and franchise versions of Coldwell Banker hints at major organizational changes Realogy embarked on earlier this month. Among other things, the company opted to integrate its franchise and company-owned Coldwell Banker operations under CEO Ryan Gorman. The two sides of the brand have previously operated as separate entities with their own respective CEOs.
In a statement Wednesday, Gorman called the new RealVitalize program a “win-win for all parties involved.”
“The program gives our affiliated agents a distinct and competitive advantage in their marketplace without the burden of having to manage the home improvement process, unlike other programs,” he added.
Though RealVitalize is unique, it is not the first time a Realogy brand has embarked on a partnership with HomeAdvisor. Just this May ERA Real Estate — also a Realogy brand — launched a partnership that gave clients a number of concierge services that are powered by HomeAdvisor.
However, the ERA program does not front the cost of repairs for sellers, the way RealVitalize does, and according to Realogy’s spokesperson, it is also simply an “access point for their buyer and seller clients to conveniently access services from within the ERA system.” In other words, ERA’s program is a less sweeping and comprehensive program than RealVitalize.
RealVitalize also debuts at a pivotal time for Realogy. The company’s stock has been shedding value for years; after peaking at more than $50 per share in 2013, it fell to less than $5 per share earlier this year. As of Tuesday, the price had ticked up slightly to just under $6 per share.
Realogy is also currently locked in a bitter lawsuit with upstart rival Compass. Realogy filed the suit over what it says are Compass’ unfair business practices, but Compass has fired back arguing that the case actually stems from Realogy’s poor market performance. Both companies have denied the allegations lobbed by their respective opponents.
While Realogy remains the largest company of its kind in the U.S., its recent moves — including the merging of Coldwell Banker operations — have been widely viewed in the context of its market struggles. And in that light, the launch of RealVitalize may prove to be an important signifier to observers that Realogy continues to pursue novel new programing.
For its part, HomeAdvisor appears to be confident in the future of both Coldwell Banker and Realogy. In a statement, Brandon Ridenour — CEO of HomeAdvisor parent ANGI Homeservices — praised NRT’s Coldwell Banker as a “real estate industry leader who has impressive scale and a well-established national market presence.”
“Our goal is to make sure our brands, products and tools are there to help homeowners at all stages of the homeownership journey,” Ridenour said in the statement. “This program seamlessly integrates HomeAdvisor and our pros into that journey, expanding how we are reaching new customers and providing a unique and valuable experience for Coldwell Banker and its clients.”