Now in his second full year as president and CEO of Realogy (NYSE: RLGY), Ryan Schneider has spent much of his tenure putting out fires (which were not his) and bringing Realogy back from the brink. Turning a giant ship like Realogy is difficult enough; having to do it while navigating mines and icebergs is something else. Schneider has managed it with aplomb, and we believe Realogy is positioned for a positive 2020.
While doubts about Realogy crept to the forefront in 2019, many forget about its place as the country’s largest brokerage company and may have overlooked its positive recent moves. We have not forgotten or missed them, and Schneider, the leader of Realogy, remains, for the second year in a row, as one of the five most important and most powerful people in residential real estate.
Realogy’s stock market woes have been well-documented and followed closely by most of the real estate industry, as well as Wall Street. Starting the year at $15.24 per share, Realogy’s stock price dropped to under $4.50 per share in September and spawned all kinds of rumors. Its financial performance was not great either; the company lost $99 million in the first quarter, earned $70 million in the second quarter, and lost $69 million in the third quarter: all three represent lows for the past three years. Much of the problems stemmed from stiff competitive pressure, particularly from Compass, and the seemingly sudden termination of the lucrative referral contract Realogy’s relocation wing Cartus had with USAA.
Nonetheless, Schneider persevered in 2019, kept up morale by reminding people both inside and outside Realogy that the company remains great with unparalleled size, scale, and financial resources — all statement we agree with — and launched new initiative after new initiative. Here’s just a partial list of Realogy’s major initiatives in 2019:
¥ An affiliate program with AARP that offers real estate service discounts to AARP’s 38 million members.
¥ A relaunched iBuyer partnership with Home Partners of America as RealSure Sell, and RealSure Mortgage.
¥ RealVitalize, a pre-listing home improvement program, with HomeAdvisor
¥ A lead-gen program with Amazon called TurnKey in which Amazon sends leads to Realogy agents in addition to buyers receiving a set of Amazon benefits.
¥ Exclusive Look, a blend of company exclusives and coming soon listings, which was live in all NRT offices by the end of 2019 and is slated to expand to the full Coldwell Banker network in 2020 (NAR’s MLS Clear Cooperation Policy may pose challenges to this program).
¥ Social Ad Engine, a social media advertising tool optimized for Facebook.
¥ Expanded Listing Concierge to 60 percent of NRT’s footprint
¥ Rolled out modified agent compensation plans across its NRT network
Schneider has also continued to tweak the organization, unifying the Coldwell Banker franchise under Ryan Gorman who already had responsibility for the NRT division (most of whose offices operate under the Coldwell Banker brand), putting BHGRE, ERA and Climb under a new Expansion Brands division with Sherry Chris at the helm, and consolidating product and technology under Simon Chen.
Along the way, Schneider also oversaw significant cost-control efforts, cutting $75 million in expenses in the first nine months and targeting $80 to $100 million in savings for the year. That is a significant accomplishment in and of itself. His faith and persistence has already started to pay off with Realogy’s stock up more than double the low and traded at over $10 as 2019 drew to a close.