Everything you wanted to know about The Big 4 real estate companies: Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, and RE/MAX

Posted: June 7, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Depositphotos_60715899_s-2015When it comes to buying or selling a home, there is no one perfect company, as each individual home buyer or seller has different needs, concerns, and personalities. Additionally, it’s usually the agent – not their company – that’s doing the lion share of work and delivering great service to consumers. However, the real estate company or brokerage they work for is the environment that trains them, supports them, regulates them, and offers countless other resources along the way.

In the spirit of educating consumers about their real estate options, we decided to explore some of the facts about the most prevalent and popular real estate companies today.

Please note that we don’t endorse any one company nor are offering personal reviews or recommendations. For that reason, we’ve listed The Big 4 real estate companies in alphabetical order here. In part two, we’ll cover some of the smaller, more regional, and niche real estate companies.

Which real estate firm is right for you? That’s up to you to decide, but now you’re armed with some great information to help you make the choice.

Century 21

Probably the only real estate company that’s a universal household name, Century 21 Real Estate now operates with 106,000 agents in 6,900 offices in more than 78 countries, including Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Together, they do about 400,000 transactions every year.

The company was founded in 1971 by real estate brokers Art Bartlett and Marsh Fisher in Orange County, California, who decided to give their new firm a shockingly futuristic name for the time: Century 21. A heavy emphasis on television commercials in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s made their red and blue striped balloon one of the most recognizable real estate brands.

Century 21 has found success in implementing a state of the art e-marketing campaign, as well as heavy investment into their website, www.century21.com, that’s made it the top real estate site in the country since 2012.

Century 21 is also owned by Realogy, with their corporate office in Madison, New Jersey as well, under their CEO and President, Rick Davidson.



Coldwell Banker

Coldwell Banker is an American real estate company with a rich history, founded right after the Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 by Colbert Coldwell and partner Benjamin Banker. Together, they changed the way people bought and sold homes in the U.S., a model that’s still alive today. Since then, it’s grown to encompass about 90,000 agents working out of 3,000 offices in almost 50 countries around the world.

Now a subsidiary of the mega-real estate umbrella firm Realogy, Coldwell Banker was also acquired by Sears Financial Network in 1981 until 1993. Its corporate offices are based out of Madison, New Jersey instead of San Francisco now, with seasoned real estate CEO Charlie Young at the helm.

Although one of the most venerable real estate firms, Coldwell Banker has evolved with the times. They focus on training their agents to take advantage of niche markets like rental markets, property management, new construction, and vacation properties, as well as luxury home sales (an average of $102.7 million in luxury homes sales for every day of 2014!)

Coldwell Banker has earned numerous awards and recognition, including being named to Training Magazine’s Top 125 three years in a row (2010-2013), the highest rated real estate company on that list. Also, Coldwell Banker is deeply active in the community (as other real estate firms are), with formal programs to aid Adopt-a-Pet.com and Habitat for Humanity.




Keller Williams

Keller Williams Realty has been one of the fastest growing real estate companies over the last decade, climbing to over 150,000 associates in 700 offices worldwide, making it the largest real estate franchise by agent count in North America (and possibly the entire world.) Its growth has been so astounding that Keller Williams’ agent count stood at “only” 100,575 as of 2014.

But Keller Williams started out with humble beginnings, founded by Gary Keller and Joe Williams with a single office in Austin, Texas in 1983. But growth was always part of the Keller William’s model, and within only two years, the company had 72 licensed agents, making it the largest in Austin at the time. It expanded beyond Texas in the early 1990s. It first opened up an international office in Vietnam in 2012, and then soon after, Indonesia, South Africa, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom, totaling about 700 markets around the globe.

Keller Williams has been heralded as one of the highest rate real estate companies and one of the best training programs of any company by Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., and Forbes. 91% of all U.S. Keller Williams offices are profitable.




This recognizable real estate brand has been in business since 1972 when founders (and real estate husband and wife team) David and Gail Liniger started their own company out a small office in Denver, Colorado. Forty-five years later, RE/MAX – which is short for Real Estate Maximums – has grown to over 100,000 sales agents working out of 6,800 offices throughout the U.S. and 100 other countries. Each of its offices is owned and operated by franchisees, and they rely on a strong emphasis on regional control and oversight in their 70 target regions.

A strong agent network and access to resources have helped RE/MAX become the number one real estate company by market share (as measured by transactional sides) in the U.S. and Canada since 1999, with $177 million in company profits in 2015 alone.

RE/MAX is now a publically traded company, listed as RMAX on the New York Stock Exchange. However, its corporate offices are still based in Denver and Dave and Gail Liniger still serve as CEO ad Vice-Chari, respectively.



In part two, we’ll cover some of the smaller, more regional, and niche real estate companies.


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