Real Estate Almanac
Residential real estate brokerages provide the legal mechanism for buying and selling homes, support agents with company structure and training and collaborate with local competitors to ensure the real estate market remains as healthy and fluid as possible. This 2021 report presents the nation’s 1000 largest brokerages by 2020 sales volume and the 100 largest brokerages by 2020 transaction sides and agent count.
Brokerages offer administrative, operational, marketing, technology, legal and branding and training services to real estate agents who hang their license with them. Agents typically interact directly with consumers to buy and sell homes. Consumers typically recognize brokerages as a corporate or umbrella brand on shopfronts, for sale signs, websites and legal contracts.
A residential real estate brokerage is a company – usually an incorporated firm, a limited liability firm or a sole proprietorship – licensed to sell real estate in the U.S. For the Mega 1000’s purposes, a brokerage company’s numbers include subsidiaries in which the larger company owns a controlling stake.
For example, the nation’s second largest brokerage, HomeServices of America, owns and operates approximately two dozen regional or local brands, such as Edina Realty, Long and Foster Real Estate, Intero Real Estate and Ebby Halliday Realtors. The annual sales volumes of these brokerages, and others within the HomeServices of America stable, roll up to HomeServices of America because the umbrella company owns more than 50 percent of each of those brokerages. Realogy Brokerage Group, itself a subsidiary of the Realogy Holdings Corp. enterprise, has a similar situation; it owns numerous regional Coldwell Banker-branded companies as well as some companies under other brands such as Corcoran Group.
Some brokerages stand alone or operate under a single entity or brand such as Redfin, Compass and eXp Realty.
Brokerages can be affiliated with a franchise, or not affiliated. Brokerages not affiliated with a franchise are often referred to as independents. Examples of large franchise brands include RE/MAX, Keller Williams Realty and Coldwell Banker.
Approximately 80 percent of the brokerages in the Mega 1000 are affiliated with a franchise and 20 percent are independent. This is not indicative of the industry as a whole but skewed as franchise brands generally focus on obtaining or building larger brokerages and also provide services that support further growth. Some brokerages, particularly the larger independents hold membership in, or are affiliated with, a real estate network such as The Realty Alliance, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World or Christie’s International Real Estate.
Gathering and analyzing brokerage company data in the Mega 1000 is a rigorous, multistep process. It starts by sending requests for information to the nation’s largest brokerages. T3 researches approximately 2,500 real estate brokerages, all real estate franchisors, all real estate enterprises and a selection of large real estate networks.
All told, T3 annually collects and analyzes over 12,000 data points to develop the Mega 1000. After examining the data, running algorithms to identify outliers, and testing the gathered information against T3 parameters and benchmarks, the list is built. This is a huge undertaking; T3 strives to verify data before using it to sort and rank brokerages to ensure that rankings are as comprehensive as possible, as every company not included destroys the integrity of the rankings below that entry.
It is nearly impossible to identify every brokerage that should be included; that said, T3 Sixty has worked persistently to include everyone it is aware of by diligently reaching out to franchisors, networks, organized real estate organizations, all available lists, the media and so on to find as many as possible. If T3 inadvertently missed a brokerage, please send an email to email@example.com and that information will be included in the next research cycle.
The Brokerage Landscape
The brokerage landscape is undergoing a period of rapid change. The influx of vast amounts of capital combined with maturing technology is restructuring the way homes are bought and sold and how real estate brokerages operate. Many companies founded in the last 10 to 15 years have grown rapidly and are realizing disproportionate market share growth.
The 2020 Mega 1000 clearly reflects this.
Compass (No. 3), founded in 2012, and eXp Realty (No. 4), founded in 2009, both grew their annual sales volume approximately 10X between 2017 and 2020 – they led all Mega 1000 brokerages in growth over this period. Among the nation’s 20 largest brokerages, the six founded since 2020 saw annual sales volume growth of 143.3 percent between 2018 and 2020, nearly 12 times that of older brokerages over that span. Realogy Brokerage Group and HomeServices of America still sit squarely at the top, but they have company now in Compass, which surpassed the $100 billion annual sales volume mark in 2020 for the first time. Fast-growing eXp Realty (founded in 2009) at No. 4, Redfin (founded in 2005) at No. 5, HomeSmart (founded in 2000) at No. 10 and @properties (founded in 2000) at No. 11, Realty One Group (founded in 2005) at No. 16 and United Real Estate (founded in 2011) at No. 18 are the other larger relative newcomers in the top 20.
The Mega 1000 also clearly shows that the industry’s largest brokerages are increasingly capturing more of the US sales volume and transaction side market share. The share of existing-home sales volume and transaction sides done by the nation’s 1,000 largest brokerages have jumped from 2017 to 2020 by 16.2 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively. Larger brokerages captured even more market share. In that period, the top 10 brokerages grew market share by 34.2 percent.
In 2020, the top 1,000 brokerages handled over half (52.2 percent) of total sales volume done by all the nation’s estimated 86,000 brokerages. In addition, the top 1,000 do over two in five (41.2 percent) of the nation’s transaction sides.