Real estate giant holding its own

//August 21, 2009

Real estate giant holding its own

//August 21, 2009

While the industry struggles, Realogy is finding success through its Web strategies

Realogy Corp., in Parsippany, is holding its own in a real estate landscape fraught with turmoil. The company is the parent of real estate and relocation services brands that include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, ERA Real Estate, Sotheby’s International and others.

Realogy operates both as a franchisor and as an owner-operator of brokerages. Richard A. Smith, chief executive, said the company’s brands engage in healthy competition with each other.

“No one in residential real estate has operated multiple competing brands under one umbrella,” he said. “If they’re successful, we’re successful.”

Through its business units, Realogy’s franchises comprise 15,000 offices, employing 270,000 brokers and sales associates around the world.

Smith said in spite of a difficult housing market, Realogy is positioning itself to pursue new business as the economy recovers. “We focused on the expansion of these brands through new technology and new forms of marketing,” he said.

The majority of the company’s marketing dollars are invested in Web strategies, including a progressive approach to social media. Coldwell Banker, for example, established a page on Facebook offering information and tips on residential real estate, and launched a video channel at YouTube.com displaying of properties for sale.

“We have learned a great deal as early adopters,” Smith said.

Online marketing can be tied to sales, he said, as opposed to television marketing, which may not be readily quantified. “The shift to the Web was going to be permanent at some point; the downturn in housing accelerated that,” he said.

Owned by private equity firm Apollo Management L.P., Realogy was born in 2006 from the splitting of what was then Cendant Corp. Apollo Management subsequently bought out Realogy in 2007.

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