As an expert in many facets of the real estate industry, what is your current role?
I am the chief operating officer (COO) for Realogy’s recently created expansion brands portfolio, which includes Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and ERA Real Estate. In this role, I oversee all operational aspects of the franchises and financial management including training, new franchisee onboarding, systems, tools and technology, recruiting and retention, and networking engagement for nearly 48,000 agents and more than 2,650 offices in 42 countries.
Can you elaborate on the history and franchise aspect of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and ERA Real Estate?
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE®) launched in 2008 during the housing crisis, which admittedly was an interesting time to launch a real estate brand. Until then, there had not yet been a real estate brand created intentionally for the needs of consumers and their lifestyles. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate conveys the future of the real estate industry while remaining grounded in the tradition of home. The franchise model offers a unique value proposition for agents and franchisees, such as flexible business models, a values-driven culture and opportunities for accelerated growth. This model along with our partnership with Meredith Corporation, the parent company of the Better Homes & Gardens brand, helps real estate agents become more productive and build stronger consumer loyalty by relying on the trusted Better Homes & Gardens name and our brand’s focus on the lifestyle benefits of home ownership.
ERA®, on the other hand, was founded nearly 50 years ago by Jim Jackson and Gene Francis, business partners who revolutionized the real estate transaction process by equipping every office with what was then a ground-breaking technology – the fax machine. Not only did they set a new pace for the industry unintentionally, they also created a new way to collaborate. Fast forward to today, ERA Real Estate continues to be innovative with a focus on technology, and prides itself on having one of the most supportive, engaged, and collaborative cultures in the real estate industry.
What growth have you seen since you joined the business?
In September, I took on the role of overseeing ERA operations and working with the ERA team. They’ve got tremendous momentum this year, with five new affiliations – all conversions – in the past few months as well as strong M&A growth, expanding their network by 415 affiliated sales professionals, nine offices and $650M in sales. This expansion, along with new product offerings like their partnership with Home Advisor and ERA® Moves, make this an exciting time to be with the brand.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate had 40 US-based franchises when I joined the brand in 2013. Over the course of the four years I led the franchise sales team, we grew the network to about 100 franchises and expanded internationally. The brand, now in its eleventh year, has grown to encompass a network of 120 affiliated brokerages with 13,000 sales professionals globally.
What separates your business from others in the industry?
ERA’s founding principle is that each independent sales professional and broker is unique, and we empower them to build their businesses the way they want. The brand provides flexibility and choice, empowering our affiliated brokers to build commission structures that allow them to compete for agents in their markets. They can build their business the way they see fit, whether it’s through flexible branding options or expanding to allow additional revenue opportunities.
The relationship that BHGRE has with Better Homes & Gardens magazine and its publisher Meredith Corporation allows us to leverage the magazine’s 90-plus percent brand awareness and editorial content that is relevant to consumers at all phases of their lives, but especially when they are purchasing a home. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate truly is THE lifestyle real estate brand.
What is the new Realogy Expansion brands company focusing on?
Our mission is to accelerate the success of both brands and their network of affiliated brokers and agents. We have many resources including training, marketing and lead gen available for our network. My particular role is on the ops side with a specific emphasis on helping our broker/owners become more successful operators. This includes assistance in identifying opportunities for mergers and acquisitions along with a focus on recruiting and the organic growth and development of existing agents.
How do you contribute to the success of the agents?
The company invests a lot of time, money and resources into our affiliated agents. On the BHGRE side, our training team and award-winning Be Better® University platform offers hundreds of sessions a year, both live and virtual. We also have LOTS of marketing resources available for agents to market their businesses and listings. One of the most unique resources utilized by BHGRE affiliates is PinPoint, a tool created for agents to reach appropriate buyers for specific properties leveraging Better Homes & Gardens magazine and Meredith Corporation’s consumer behavior data which is harvested from 175 million consumers.
On the ERA side, we are equally vested in the success of our affiliated agents. In addition to a wealth of virtual and in-person training programs, the brand also offers many opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration through our live events held throughout the year. We also provide a broad range of tools to drive their business, with a focus on strengthening and extending their relationship with clients through the entire homebuying process and beyond. Tools like TextERA and the ERA Moves program offer affiliated agents the opportunity to connect with their clients at every stage of the homeownership lifecycle.
In addition to our brand-specific programs, the Realogy Expansion brands also benefit greatly from the power of Realogy, especially when it comes to rolling out technological innovations like Agent X, our most recent digital assistant skill on the Amazon platform, and TurnKey, a beginning-to-end homebuying program made possible through a collaboration between Realogy and Amazon
Rich DeNicola, Chief Operating Officer
Realogy Expansion Brands
175 Park Ave
Madison, New Jersey