How the brokerage landscape has changed in the last five years

A pandemic-fueled home-buying bonanza. Rate-hike-squeezed housing inventory. Tectonic changes in how agents are compensated in home sales. There have been plenty of changes in the last five years, and RealTrends Verified has gotten the inside look at how the nation’s top brokerages have been affected each year.

Top brokerages

Compass extended its now three-year reign as the top brokerage in the country by volume with more than $184 billion, while former champ Anywhere Advisors is nipping at its heels with more than $176 billion. About $40 billion behind those leaders were eXp Realty and HomeServices America, still about $100 billion ahead of the next group of brokerages.

While it’s great to be on top, the top 10 still had a tough 2023, as everyone in the housing industry endured the vicissitudes of high mortgage rates, high home prices, and low for-sale inventories.

The combined volume of the top 10 brokerages was down 22.9% from 2021, although that figure includes Side and The Real Brokerage, two companies that did not submit to RealTrends Verified in 2021. Looking at only eight of the top 10 companies that submitted their 2021 and 2023 volumes, the drop is slightly bigger: 23.7%.

When looking at sides, many of the same players are still top of the pile, including eXp (which claimed the No. 1 spot), Anywhere, HomeServices of America, Compass, Hanna Holdings and Redfin. However, The Real Brokerage is the headline, jumping from 11th to 6th in a single year.

The two national brokerage leaders — Compass by volume and eXp by sides — have experienced massive five-year growth, another sign of how much things have changed since 2019.

Referral networks

Based on RealTrends Verified submissions, referral networks appear to be losing share, with more submitters describing themselves as independent or affiliated with someone other than the top referrers. The share of those identifying as “Independent/Other” has risen by about 11 percentage points by volume and about 12 percentage points by sides since 2019.

Even so, that still leaves the vast majority of submitters as affiliates of companies like Keller Williams, LeadingRE, Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX and the like.

Keller Williams took the lion’s share of both volume and sides last year, but that’s because they have the most affiliated brokerages. Almost 550 RealTrends Verified submitters were affiliated with Keller Williams, leaving RE/MAX a distant second with about 310 and LeadingRE an even more distant third with about 100.

Looking instead at volume per affiliate or sides per affiliate, the crown would go to Corcoran or LeadingRE, respectively.

Keller Williams’ reach has also become dominant geographically in the last five years. In 2019, there were 18 states in which the No. 1 network by affiliate count was Keller Williams; in 2023, that’s increased to 34 states.

Although a lot has happened in the last five years, the industry is certainly not finished changing. Last month’s proposed $418 million settlement by the National Association of Realtors, which comes with major rule changes for agents and brokers, is proof enough.

Which companies will best navigate the changes the next five years bring? Stay tuned.

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