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(Above) RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange begins with a keynote from Ryan Schneider, president and CEO of Realogy. (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

“Consolidation in our business is inevitable,” according to Ryan Schneider, CEO of Realogy, addressing attendees of RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange in New York City today. “That journey may not be smooth and may not be painless.”

During the event’s keynote opening session, Schneider discussed “Surviving the Real Estate Landscape,” from disruptors to the market and its trajectory, with an audience of more than 300 brokerage executives and industry leaders.

The catalyst for consolidation, Schneider said, is the “lack of profitability.”

“Three of the six biggest brokerage players nationally lose money,” he explained. “That is an issue we’re all grappling with, and I believe it will end on the side of what everyone is rooting for: a healthy industry with economics that are good for agents, consumers and us in the different roles we play.

“However, that journey may not be smooth and may not be painless,” he noted. “The concentration of our industry is so diffuse…I believe consolidation in our business is inevitable.”

Schneider acknowledged disruptors, as well, admitting concerns, but also that the industry is losing sight of their target, and disruptors’ end goal.

“I spend most of my day worried about disruption and what we need to do on the data and technology side and how to confront it,” he said. “Disruption is about the consumer. They’re not targeting brokerages; they’re not targeting agents, per se. When we all think about our innovation agenda, we’re going to have to do more to drive more innovation that is consumer-focused.”

For Realogy, it is critical to deliver innovation in an “open architecture” system, Schneider said.

“I don’t believe Realogy has the ability to build a platform that meets the needs of our agents and franchisees—it’s too diverse of a group and people use technology in too many different ways,” he stated. “Our approach is going to be open architecture. We are going to provide technology to our agents and franchisees… [but] we also have to architect an ecosystem that lets you plug in the technology you want to use.”

On the consumer front, Realogy has already made pioneering strides with the Amazon TurnKey program, aimed at improving the moving process.

“We ended up collaborating with Amazon because we brought the national scale they were looking for and required in a partner, and also brought a combination of great agents and franchisees that are going to take great care of customers,” Schneider said. “We were doing this together, in part, to try to go after that consumer innovation.”

In addition, TurnKey addresses a challenge for Realogy and others: generating high-quality leads. Recently, Realogy lost its military referral relationship with USAA, which USAA discontinued due to “increasing complexities in financial services,” according to filings. Earlier this month, Realogy announced the launch of its own program, Realogy Military Rewards.

“Anything we can do to provide high-quality lead generation is right at the top of our priority list, whether it’s Amazon TurnKey or other programs we’re hoping to do,” said Schneider. “[This is] not just to replace, but grow our traditional sources of lead generation, as well as bring in new ones, because we think it’s going to be increasingly important in a world that is so awash with low-quality internet leads.”

On the goals of TurnKey, Schneider expressed hope for a national rollout. Currently, 15 markets participate in the program.

“Our aspiration is to leverage our national scale, but we’re starting with our existing broker network that we use for referrals in the geographies that we’ve launched,” he said.

Beyond brokerage and consumer innovation, Schneider championed homeownership, and advocacy on the part of REALTORS®—especially in the housing market today, where in-demand inventory is scarce.

“The one thing we can do in this housing market is to not lose sight of the advocacy opportunities—that we have to push the positives of housing in the government area,” he said.

Realogy made news recently for restructuring, making organizational shifts that include Ryan Gorman, CEO of NRT LLC, Realogy’s brokerage division, heading up a “unified Coldwell Banker leadership team” and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate CEO Sherry Chris leading a new Expansion Brands segment.

“We have to be increasingly flexible as a company,” said Schneider of the changes in leadership structure. “We’ve made some changes that are really designed to make us move faster and speak with one voice.”

As for the Compass lawsuit, which came to a head recently, Schneider simply stated, “There were never any discussions that implied [we proposed selling to them], and that’s that.”

For CEO Exchange continuing coverage, follow @RISMediaUpdates and visit RISMedia.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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