Gary Keller has been one of the five most powerful people in residential real estate every year since the SP200 debuted in 2014. In early 2019, Keller returned to lead Keller Williams Realty (KW) as CEO, though he was never far from the company he co-founded in 1983. KW is the residential real estate brokerage industry’s largest franchisor by sales volume, transaction sides and agent count, according to the Swanepoel Mega 1000, a sister publication of the SP200 and also owned by T3 Sixty.
There is no question that Gary Keller consistently year after year remains one the most powerful leaders in residential real estate. Today he charging forward with a new direction while leading the world’s largest franchise. Impressive. Powerful. Game-changing.
In 2019, Keller continued to push forward on his multi-year vision of transforming KW into a technology company by building an integrated technology platform to offer his franchisees and agents. Much like Barton in the No. 1 spot, Keller is making big transformational bets and moves that only founders and controlling shareholders can make.
Unlike other most other large real estate brokerages and franchisors, KW is building a technology platform from scratch and announced $1 billion dedicated toward this effort. Although not finished, the results so far are impressive. Here is a brief list of what KW has accomplished in 2019 related to its platform:
¥ KW released Command, a smart CRM hosted on the Keller Cloud platform, to all KW agents in the first quarter 2019, and as of September 30, 2019, it had 99,875 active users who had added 39.2 million contacts.
¥ In the first nine months of 2019, KW agents sent 48,151 live referrals, representing $12.6 billion in sales volume, via Kelle, KW’s AI-powered real estate agent tool.
¥ In July, KW released the automated marketing tool SmartPlans within Command. As of September 30, 2019, KW agents had 3.5 million consumers signed up on SmartPlans.
¥ As of Sept. 30, agents had created 233,139 unique designs through KW’s graphic design app Designs, which KW released in late second quarter 2019.
¥ As of Sept. 30, agents tracked 406,754 deals across all phases of a sales pipeline (appointment, active, under contract and closed) in Command’s Opportunities app, up 230.2 percent from the end of second quarter 2019.
KW has not slowed down on its core business while pursuing this large initiative. In terms of sales, the first nine months of 2019 were fantastic by any measure:
¥ As of Sept. 30, agents closed 859,140 transactions, up 2.0 percent over the same period of 2018. This is an even more impressive feat considering that the number of existing homes sold in the U.S. dropped 1.7 percent in the period, according to NAR.
¥ Agents closed $265.6 billion in sales volume, up 3.5 percent from the first three quarters of 2018.
¥ Agents wrote 969,097 contracts (projected closings), up 2.2 percent over the same period of 2018, and wrote contracts on $299.1 billion in homes’ value, up 4.0 percent over the first three quarters of 2018.
In addition, in 2019 KW announced a partnership with Offerpad that brings the iBuyer value proposition to homesellers while keeping KW agents at the center of the transaction. That partnership grew to over 10 markets by end of 2019 with more to come in 2020. The partnership is a way to remain nimble and test out new models without taking on the balance sheet risk that companies such as Opendoor and Zillow must take on with their iBuyer models.