Phil Yeager, a long-time real estate industry leader who spent decades as a franchising pioneer at Century 21, died on Wednesday. He was 91.
In a statement to Inman Thursday, Century 21 Vice President Chris Kervandjian called Yeager a “legend and pioneer in real estate franchising.” Kervandjian went on to say that among other things, Yeager was one of the first seven regional owners at the company when Century 21 initially started franchising more than half a century ago. Yeager then acquired franchising rights for Mexico and South America, as well as an interest in nine countries in Europe. This work saw him oversee hundreds of offices and thousands of agents.
Kervandjian concluded that Yeager was “instrumental in helping make Century 21 ‘a global real estate leader.'”
“Phil was a true visionary that understood that there was a need to raise the level of professionalism in the real estate industry — all over the world,” Kervandjian added. “He accomplished this in the regions he operated and always made himself available to advise other Century 21 master franchisees globally.”
“Phil’s commitment to franchising Century 21 significantly contributed to not only the brand’s tremendous growth and awareness around the world but also the movement of real estate franchising globally,” Yannaccone said. “He was an accomplished businessman and industry leader who will be deeply missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and the many real estate professionals he influenced over the years.”
Yeager was a third generation real estate professional based in California. As a young man, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College, about an hour east of Los Angeles, then joined the Air Force and served as a pilot during the Korean War. He entered the real estate industry after returning from his military service.
In 1989, Yeager co-founded Century 21 Mexico and ultimately grew the operation to have thousands of agents and hundreds of offices. He followed that by launching Century 21 South America, which also ultimately grew to have hundreds of offices.
In addition to launching Century 21 operations in Latin America and, later, Europe, Yeager oversaw the deployment of the first multiple listing service in Mexico. He also served as a teacher and mentor to many in the industry.
Though Yeager built much of his franchising empire between the 1970s and 1990s, just last year he was named the top real estate professional by the International Association of Top Professionals. One year prior, Marquis Who’s Who awarded him a lifetime achievement award.
Yeager’s cause of death has not been publicly disclosed.
In his statement, Kervandjian ultimately noted that “Phil was an inspiration to all of us and he will be greatly missed.”
Update: This story was updated after publication with additional information about Yeager’s career.