Texas-based franchisor Keller Williams has confirmed a fourth round of layoffs over the past year, as the company prepares for choppier market dynamics in the face of inflation, rising mortgage rates and slowing home sales.
A Keller Williams spokesperson confirmed with Inman that 23 people from “a range of departments” were laid off, all of whom were offered severance pay and healthcare coverage through the month of September. The spokesperson said all impacted employees were also invited to apply for other positions within the company that matched their skills.
“As we communicated at the last KWRI meeting, the market has shifted dramatically. And, we’ve had to make some really tough decisions,” Chief Operating Officer Sajag Patel said in an emailed statement to staff on Thursday. “This morning we restructured a range of departments within KWRI. We did this to best align initiatives that drive agent and market center productivity and success.”
“We value our team members, so these decisions are never easy,” he added. “We are committed to assisting our impacted employees and wish them the best.”
A handful of former Keller Williams employees took to LinkedIn yesterday, saying the layoffs primarily impacted staff in Keller Williams’ marketing, training and education departments. A former KW graphic and web designer’s post got the most engagement with more than two dozen KW marketing team members offering to help them find work elsewhere.
“These past 5 years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing and creative people on the KWRI Marketing Team,” the former designer said. “I’m disappointed that I have to leave this team due to organizational restructuring, but I’m looking forward to bringing my skills and experience to another creative, highly-motived company.”
The second post came from former Success Quality Assurance Lead Jana Motzkus, who was laid off with ten others in July as Keller Williams slashed its Connect Live and Keller Williams University teams.
“It has been almost a month since I was laid off and I have decided to finally create this post,” she said. “Hearing that additional layoffs from my former employer took place today, I am saddened that there are yet more individuals’ lives that are affected.”
From October 2021 to August 2022, Keller Williams has laid off at least 184 employees from its Keller Mortgage and Keller Williams Realty International teams.
In October, Keller Mortgage let go of 150 new recruits in the face of plummeting mortgage demand, which was followed by another layoff in May that impacted an unspecified number of staff in the company’s “operations and support groups.” The next round of cuts happened in July, when leadership decided to downsize its Keller Williams University and Connect Live departments.
“We remain committed to assisting our impacted employees and to growing our training offerings in partnership with KW agents over the long term,” the spokesperson told Inman in July, while noting the remaining Connect Live team members would be integrated into another video team.
Although Keller Williams’ layoffs pale in comparison to other real estate companies’ recent downsizing efforts — Better, First Guaranty Mortgage Corp. and LoanDepot all let go of hundreds of employees in single rounds — there are still concerns about the Texas franchisors’ direction especially in light of two top executives, Carl Liebert and Tony Rogers, departures this summer and the timing of the layoffs so close to Mega Camp, Keller Williams’ annual training conference slated for Tuesday, August 23 and Wednesday, August 24.
“I just felt like my job was very secure,” an employee who was involved in the latest round of layoffs told Inman. “Mega Camp is next week, so we have all been working very hard trying to get this event in place.”
The employee, who asked to remain anonymous but verified their multi-year career at Keller Williams, said leadership has been worried about the market shift and has frequently talked about cutting expenses to brace for a possible recession. However, they said the possibility of layoffs wasn’t on their — or their coworker’s — minds.
“The message that they were telling us is that we are a family-first company, we all work together, everyone here is so valued and important, and we’re gonna put to put on the most amazing event,” they said. “They said ‘We didn’t do any layoffs in 2008, so we will do anything we can to not have layoffs now.'”
“Whether this is just a new dawn or a new era at KW… but a lot of people lost their jobs very unexpectedly,” they added. “I think the timing as far as this event is kind of wild.”
Despite the bad timing, Patel told Inman he and his fellow leaders are confident in the company’s overall direction and expect Mega Camp to go off without a hitch.
“Looking ahead, we remain confident in our strong team,” Patel said in an emailed statement. “And, we will continue to deliver our industry’s best training, coaching, and tech solutions that allow real estate entrepreneurs to thrive – no matter the market.
“As we process the impact of the restructure, we have a huge responsibility to deliver the best experience for our agents and leaders at Mega Agent Camp next week.”