Coldwell Banker CEO Ryan Gorman said the move will allow members of both Realogy and Climb to take advantage of the latter company’s larger scale.

Nearly three and a half years after it acquired San Francisco brokerage Climb, Realogy has confirmed that it is now integrating the company into its Coldwell Banker brand and discontinuing the Climb name.

Ryan Gorman

Ryan Gorman, president and CEO of the newly consolidated Coldwell Banker, told Inman that he met with members of Climb Thursday to discuss the transition. Gorman characterized the move as an “integration” of Climb into Coldwell Banker, where the people, culture and other aspects of the business will be incorporated into the larger company.

The Climb name, meanwhile, will be discontinued and Climb’s offices in California’s Bay Area will be shut down.

Gorman estimated that there are approximately 160 members of Climb who will be impacted by the move. They will have the opportunity to now work out of Coldwell Banker’s various offices in the Bay Area.

Gorman also said that during his meeting with members of Climb, the company’s agents “seemed deeply invested in the conversation.” Climb agents will now have the chance to visit and explore Coldwell Banker’s offices in the area. Gorman anticipates that most will have decided “within a week” if they are going to make the transition to Coldwell Banker.

Though Gorman framed the move as an overall positive development, Climb co-founder Mark Choey had a somewhat different take. In an email to Inman Thursday night, he said that after the sale to Realogy “we had high hopes that their experience managing a collection of mighty national brands and an unparalleled franchise-machine would take Climb” to the national stage.

Mark Choey

“Realogy has disappointedly (and not surprisingly) decided to focus on other priorities,” Choey continued in the email. “Their deteriorating stock price and recent financial situation have no doubt contributed to this decision.”

Choey did not go into detail about what comes next for him, but did say that the “good news is that the DNA of Climb lives on in our next venture, HighNote Labs,” a startup focused on building tools for real estate agents.

Realogy’s NRT brand acquired Climb in 2016. At the time, Climb operated five offices in the Bay Area and was known for its distinctive branding and office design, among other things.

In 2018, Realogy announced plans to franchise the Climb brand. Plans called for selling Climb franchises at the beginning of 2019, and Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider said the move was “critical to Realogy’s long-term organic growth strategy.”

However, those franchising plans are currently on hold and there are no current Climb franchises, meaning that Climb is currently a wholly company-owned brokerage.

Reports that the Climb brand would be discontinued first publicly surfaced in a Facebook post from Rob Hahn, a real estate writer and managing partner at consulting firm 7DS Associates.

The Climb news also comes amid a much broader integration of Realogy’s franchise and company-owned versions of Coldwell Banker. The company announced that integration in September, revealing that then-NRT CEO Ryan Gorman would take over the newly consolidated business.

Charlie Young, who previously helmed Coldwell Banker, is staying on as an advisor for several months before departing the company later this year.

Gorman said Thursday that the decision to merge Climb into Coldwell Banker isn’t exactly a part of the same larger integration plans, though it shares a similar objective of taking advantage of Coldwell Banker’s larger scale.

That’s something former Climb agents themselves should be able to take advantage of, Gorman said, as they have access to Coldwell Banker’s larger and more numerous offices, as well as Realogy’s suite of support and tech services.

“This is really all about the individual agent’s business,” he added.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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