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RISMEDIA, March 30, 2007-With some 100,000 real estate brokerage companies, and many thousands of real estate brands, it's tough to select "the best" national real estate brands in the country. But in real estate, branding is the name of the game.

The reason for branding is to evoke a response from the consumer. A brand name often establishes trust and a sense of security among consumers. Their positive experience with a brand in one location will often result in that consumer using the same brand in another.

In real estate, branding is the path to recruiting new agents. Many new agents look to brand recognition and awareness as factors in determining with which company to associate.

In the 2007 edition of the Swanepoel Trends Report 30 different real estate brands are acknowledged and are divided into the following categories:

Established National Real Estate Franchise Brands

Depending on what criteria you use, and which survey you read, the three most recognizable real estate brands are Century 21, Coldwell Banker and RE/MAX.

RE/MAX probably has the clearest, least confusing brand of the three and is less confused for another industry than the other two. Many polls put Century 21 as the most unassisted, recognizable real estate brand while Coldwell Banker, because of a huge number of mergers and acquisitions, has created a significant number of large, high quality offices. It has maintained more consistency in its brand than the others.

Any way you look at it; these three companies have the best-established brands in real estate. They have invested 100 years for Coldwell Banker and 30 years for Century 21 and RE/MAX in building the value of their brand. There are of course many other strong and established real estate brands including ERA, Realty Executives, etc. However, according to research, the five strongest established real estate brands are:

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: TOP 5 Established Real Estate Franchise Brands

1. Coldwell Banker


3. Century 21

4. Prudential

5. Keller Williams

Although franchising has by far been the single strongest catalyst in building a national brand, it has placed a damper on maintaining consistency. This is the result of most franchisees being independently owned and operated, together with the strong independent contractor nature of the industry.

New National Real Estate Franchise Brands

During the last decade, a huge amount of new real estate franchises have been created. As a result of bold marketing, aggressive promotion and strong growth they have been able to surge into national prominence. The following table reflects the top five new national real estate brands that are the most exciting and/or that show the most promise.

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: "New" National Real Estate Franchise Brands


2. Help-U-Sell

3. Weichert Realtors

4. Sotheby's

5. Avalar What is interesting is that the diversity of these companies clearly reflects that there is no longer a standard for building a brand. These new companies have very diverse backgrounds: a non-U.S. company (EXIT), a revitalized company from the 1970s (Help-U-Sell), a longtime franchise critic (Weichert), a non-industry transferred brand (Sotheby's) and a brand new real estate upstart (Avalar).

Best Regional Real Estate Brands

If you operate a national real estate company, the necessity to build a nationally established brand follows. However, real estate is still a local business and many large regional companies have by choice decided to remain local and/or regional players. It is very difficult to compare regional brands with one another, especially where those companies are privately held and information is limited. Although size is often a leading indicator of a company's well being, it does not necessarily equate to the health of the brand.

The table below identifies five leading real estate brokerages that operate regionally and have consistently, over a long period of time, built a strong local reputation and brand awareness.

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: Regional Real Estate Brands:

1. Long & Foster

2. John L. Scott Real Estate

3. Edina Realty

4. Baird & Warner

5. RealLiving

Best Online Real Estate Brands

Real Estate is no longer just an offline business and therefore building a brand online is becoming increasingly more important. Many would argue that such a ranking should be based exclusively on traffic. Although the number of unique visitors was taken into consideration, I feel that one should also take into consideration overall consumer and industry awareness and traction of these brands.

This list excludes traditional offline real estate brands such as Coldwell Banker and RE/MAX that were listed under Established Real Estate Franchise brands. The top 5 online real estate brands are:

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: Online Real Estate Brands:






Top 5 Most Underutilized Real Estate Brands

This category is not intended to slight any individual company but rather to list the companies that still have a lot of growth potential in their brands. All five of these companies have strong and credible brands that if correctly maximized can become even more powerful and more valuable.

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: Most Under-Utilized Real Estate Brands:

1. HomeServices


3. Realty World

4. ERA

5. Realty Executives These brands have been listed for different reasons For example, HomeServices is the holding company and has deliberately downplayed its corporate brand in favor of its strong existing regional brands e.g. Edina. In contrast, GMAC Real Estate is the corporate brand but carries the beneficial yet distracting brands of bigger its brothers GMAC and General Motors.

Top 5 Most Valuable "Lost" Brands in Real Estate

Brands can be easily displaced through mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which often occur as part of the race towards critical mass. For example when national player NRT, acquires a company it often displaces an existing valuable brand and replaces it with a more valuable and recognizable national brand like Coldwell Banker. The following table contains the names of some of the largest and most valuable brands that are no longer prominently featured in the real estate industry.

Swanepoel Trends Report 2007: Most Valuable "Lost" Real Estate Brands:

1. Arvida Realty

2. Jon Douglas Real Estate

3. Fred Sands Realtors

4. DeWolfe Realtors

5. Hunnemann Real Estate

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The preceding are excerpts from the 2007 Swanepoel Trends Report. The new 159-page Report authored by industry visionary Stefan Swanepoel details the Top 10 trends impacting real estate professionals.

To purchase a copy go to and for free shipping use the promo code RISMedia.