Gary Keller Named The Most Powerful Person In Real Estate

It has been nearly four decades since Gary Keller co-founded Keller Williams. But in all those years as a real estate firebrand his influence remains so strong that, on Tuesday morning, he managed to nab the top spot on the latest Swanepoel Power 200 ranking of industry leaders.

The rankings, shared exclusively in advance with Inman, are an annual tradition from consulting firm T3 Sixty and are named for the firm’s chairman and CEO Stefan Swanepoel. A statement notes that while there is some subjectivity inherent in the rankings, they aim to reflect “an assessment of who in the industry wields the most power — not just by the size of the company, but their connections within the industry, the resources they have to bring to bear on efforts, their track record with extra weight given to the past year and their perceived prospects for the following year.”

T3 Sixty ultimately spent about 500 hours considering thousands of executives as it compiled the list. This year’s rankings are meant to reflect the real estate industry as it existed on Dec. 31, 2021.

This is not the first time Keller has taken the crown and in fact he has remained in the top five every year since the rankings debuted in 2014. However, last year Zillow co-founder and CEO Rich Barton scored the number one spot in the rankings. Barton fell to sixth place this year.

Despite Barton’s fall, Zillow President Susan Daimler made her debut in the rankings this year and ultimately nabbed the 28th spot. Other new additions include Side co-founder and CEO Guy Gal, at 47, REX Real Estate CEO Jack Ryan, at 75, HomeLight founder and CEO Drew Uher, at 85, and Rocket Homes Real Estate CEO Doug Seabolt, at 100.

Several leaders also made significant jumps in the rankings. Most notable among them was CoStar CEO Andy Florance, who rose from the 100th spot last year to number 15 this time around. T3 Sixty’s statement notes that Florance rose thanks to “his company’s continued big industry moves, most notably its acquisition of in 2021.” The fact that Florance repeatedly fanned the flames of a rivalry with Zillow also probably didn’t hurt his standing, given that it generally raised his profile and earned him many new fans in the agent community.

Other leaders who rose in the rankings include eXp Realty CEO Jason Gesing, who climbed from 43 to 31, and Carl Liebert, CEO of Keller Williams holding company kwx, who rose from 154 to 103.

Speaking of the rankings, Swanepoel noted in Tuesday’s statement that this is “certainly one of the most dynamic and exciting times to be a leader in residential real estate.”

The rankings are a mark of prestige for those who land on the list, but are also a gauge of both what has happened in the industry and what might come in the future. It’s likely no coincidence that Barton dropped several slots, for example, shortly after his company abandoned its iBuying efforts. And Liebert’s star rose, according to the statement, as his company prepares “for a possible public offering” — something that happens to be among the most watched stories in the industry.

In the statement, T3 Sixty executive editor Paul Hagey ultimately concluded that the rankings provide “a valuable mirror for the industry by identifying the leaders most significantly guiding it.”

Here are the full rankings:

1. Gary Keller, Keller Williams

Gary Keller

Keller co-founded Keller Williams in the early 1980s and both his work and his writing has at this point influenced several generations of real estate agents. More recently he has also pivoted to turn Keller Williams into a technology company, among other things. Neither he nor other executives at Keller Willams have confirmed that an initial public offering is coming, though many outside observers anticipate that it is. Keller has also recently taken stands on a variety of other topics, including urging agents to get vaccinated for the coronavirus pandemic.

T3 Sixty’s statement notes that Keller regained the top spot this year thanks to his “steadfast leadership amid a turbulent year.”

Keller currently serves as the executive chairman of kwx.

2. Glenn Sanford, eXp World Holdings

Glenn Sanford

Glenn Sanford founded eXp more than 12 years ago after a period at Keller Williams, where he was a mega agent and team leader. At eXp, however, Sanford didn’t just replicate his old company’s business model. Instead, he created something entirely new that includes a virtual world, a lack of brick-and-mortar infrastructure, and innovative stock-based compensation. The result has so far been one of real estate’s most remarkable success stories, with the company recently passing 65,000 agents.

Sanford expects that number to keep rising, and T3 Sixty’s statement notes that eXp “exploded in 2020 and 2021,” adding that very few companies have pulled off similar growth.

Sanford currently serves as the CEO of eXp Realty parent company eXp World Holdings.

3. Ryan Schneider, Realogy

Ryan Schneider

Ryan Schneider joined Realogy as CEO more than four years ago, and has consequently been at the helm during major moments such as the reorganization and rebranding of Realogy-owned Coldwell Banker. Over the last year, as many publicly traded real estate companies’ stock prices were withering, Realogy managed to buck the trend and saw its price rise.

Realogy nabbed fewer headlines than some other companies in 2021, but T3 Sixty’s statement notes that the company’s “stabilization is one of the underreported and under-appreciated stories in real estate over the past year and Schneider, who took the helm of the company in 2018, is largely responsible for turning the company around from near disaster.”

4. Gino Blefari, HomeServices of America

Gino Blefari

Gino Blefari founded California’s Intero Real Estate Services twenty years ago, then ended up at HomeServices of America when it acquired his firm in 2014. He has held a variety of roles since, but for the last three years has served as CEO of HomeServices of America. Blefari’s appointment to the top spot came at a time when HomeServices of America — which is the own-side brokerage subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway — was undergoing immense growth.

In March, HomeServices of America nabbed the top spot on the RealTrends 500 list, which ranks companies according to transaction sides. It was the third straight year the company topped that ranking.

5. Robert Reffkin, Compass

Robert Reffkin

Robert Reffkin is one of the best-known leaders in real estate today, thanks largely to the rapid growth of his company Compass. He serves as the company’s CEO. The brokerage has focused on creating a tech ecosystem, and has aggressively pursued top-performing agents and teams — a practice that has incited the ire of many rivals.

Compass went public in 2021, though it has also been among a group of companies that experienced stock price declines over the past several months. Still, Reffkin has remained the face of the company and a vocal champion for its vision of real estate.

6. Rich Barton, Zillow

Rich Barton

Rich Barton co-founded Zillow back in 2004 and served as the company’s CEO for several years before departing to work on other ventures. He returned in 2019 and over the ensuing years steered the company during its Zillow 2.0 project — which among other things included a prominent experiment with iBuying. That experiment failed, though 2021 wasn’t a total wash; earlier in the year Zillow bought showing management company ShowingTime, which was one of the biggest stories of the last 12 months.

Barton’s most recent tenure at Zillow hasn’t progressed without bumps, but he has made it clear that the portal will evolve.

7. Eric Wu, Opendoor

Eric Wu

Eric Wu started iBuyer Opendoor back in 2014, and he remains its CEO today. The company has since grown to become the largest dedicated iBuyer in the market, and it remains vastly larger than rivals such as Offerpad and Redfin. Up until late 2021, Opendoor’s biggest rival was Zillow, and the demise of the portal’s iBuying program meant that for the time being Wu’s company won the battle for supremacy.

Opendoor is still chasing profitability, and in the wake of Zillow’s stumble it has been at the center of a debate about iBuying’s viability. But the company insists that it is on firm footing and its recent earnings reports show growing revenues.

8. Glenn Kelman, Redfin

Glenn Kelman | Photo credit: Redfin

Glenn Kelman joined Redfin at the company’s president and CEO in 2005, and he remains in that position today. Over the years, Redfin has become known for taking a slower and more conservative approach to growth than rivals such as Zillow. That means the company generates fewer headlines and fireworks than some other companies, but also that it has managed to avoid pitfalls akin to what happened to Zillow’s iBuying.

In 2021, Redfin acquired RentPath for $608 million. Kelman himself has also become one of the most outspoken advocates for change in the real estate industry to address lingering problems such as discrimination and unequal access to housing.

9. Adam Contos, RE/MAX

Adam Contos

Adam Contos began his career with RE/MAX in 2004. He initially served in a regional role and gradually worked his way up into senior management. He became the company’s sole CEO in early 2018.

RE/MAX has long been known for its franchise-based business model, and for its relative stability compared to other big names in the industry. Last summer, RE/MAX made its largest acquisition ever when it bought RE/MAX Integra. That deal quickly paid off, with RE/MAX’s 2021 third quarter earnings hitting all-time record highs.

On Tuesday, Contos announced he was departing RE/MAX at the end of March.

10. Hoddy, Helen and Hoby Hanna, Howard Hanna Real Estate

Helen Hanna

Three family members and leaders of Howard Hanna Real Estate share the final spot on the Swanepoel Power 200: Chairman Hoddy Hanna, CEO Helen Hanna Casey, and President Hoby Hanna. Together, the trio steers what their website describes as the “largest private real estate company in the United States.”

In 2021, Howard Hanna expanded its reach by buying a stake in one of Indiana’s biggest brokerages, and it picked a bone with Compass over recruiting tactics. The company, and the three executives, also weathered tragedy when company founder Howard Hanna Jr. — father to Hoddy and Helen and grandfather to Hoby — died at 101.

Rank Name Title Company Name
1 Gary Keller Co-Founder and Executive Chairman kwx
2 Glenn Sanford Founder and CEO eXp World Holdings
3 Ryan Schneider President and CEO Realogy Holdings Corp.
4 Gino Blefari President and CEO HomeServices of America
5 Robert Reffkin Co-Founder and CEO Compass
6 Richard Barton Co-Founder and CEO Zillow Group
7 Eric Wu Co-Founder and CEO Opendoor
8 Glenn Kelman President and CEO Redfin
9 Adam Contos CEO RE/MAX
10 Howard “Hoddy” Hanna III, Helen Hanna Casey & Howard “Hoby” Hanna IV Company Leaders Howard Hanna Real Estate
11 Bob Goldberg CEO National Association of Realtors
12 M. Ryan Gorman President and CEO Coldwell Banker
13 Philip “Phil” Soper President and CEO Bridgemarq Real Estate Services
14 Susan “SueÓ”annaccone President and CEO Realogy Franchise Group
15 Andrew “Andy” Florance Founder and CEO CoStar Group
16 OB Jacobi, Jill & Geoff Wood Managing Partners Windermere Real Estate
17 Jeremy Wacksman Chief Operating Officer Zillow Group
18 Kuba Jewgieniew Founder and CEO Realty One Group
19 Howard Lorber CEO Douglas Elliman
20 Matt Widdows Founder and Chairman HomeSmart
21 Christy Budnick President and CEO HSF Affiliates (a HomeServices of America company)
22 Michael Golden & Thaddeus “Thad” Wong Co-Founders and Co-CEOs At World
23 Nick Bailey President RE/MAX
24 Philip White, Jr. President and CEO Sotheby’s International Realty
25 Pamela Liebman President and CEO Corcoran Group
26 Sherry Chris President and CEO Realogy Expansion Brands
27 Michael Miedler President and CEO Century 21 Real Estate
28 Susan Daimler President Zillow Group
29 J. Lennox Scott Chairman and CEO John L. Scott Real Estate
30 Arthur “Art” Carter CEO California Regional Multiple Listing Services
31 Jason Gesing CEO eXp Realty
32 C. Robert “Bob” Hale III President and CEO Houston Association of Realtors
33 Jeffrey “Jeff” Detwiler President and CEO Long & Foster Companies (a HomeServices of America company)
34 Chris & Ryan Raveis Co-Presidents William Raveis Real Estate
35 Jim M. Weichert & James Weichert, Jr. Co-Presidents Weichert Realtors
36 David Doctorow CEO Move (a News Corp company)
37 Errol Samuelson Chief Industry Development Officer Zillow Group
38 Paul Boomsma CEO Leading Real Estate Companies of the World
39 Tami Bonnell Co-chair EXIT Realty Corp. International
40 James Dwiggins Co-Founder and CEO NextHome
41 Ben Kinney Owner Ben Kinney Companies
42 James O’Bryon CEO RE/MAX Gold
43 Scott Webber CEO Sierra & Summit, LIV Sotheby’s International Realty
44 Katherine “Katie” Johnson General Counsel and Chief Member Experience Officer National Association of Realtors
45 Anthony Hitt President and CEO Engel & Volkers Americas
46 Bess Freedman CEO Brown Harris Stevens
47 Guy Gal Co-Founder and CEO Side
48 Chad Ochsner Broker-Owner RE/MAX Alliance and RE/MAX Equity Group
49 Vinnie Tracey President Realty One Group
50 Dan Duffy CEO United Real Estate Group
51 Leslie Rouda Smith 2022 President National Association of Realtors
52 Brian Donnellan CEO Bright MLS
53 Shannon McGahn Chief Advocacy Officer National Association of Realtors
54 Dan & Stuart Elsea Co-Presidents Real Estate One
55 Harold Crye Owner and CEO Crye-Leike Realtors
56 York Baur CEO MoxiWorks
57 Brian Bair Co-Founder and CEO Offerpad
58 Jimmy Kelly CEO Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies
59 Stephen “Steve” Baird President and CEO Baird & Warner
60 Martin Charlwood President and CEO Century 21 Canada
61 Scott Durkin President Douglas Elliman
62 Katherine “Kate” Rossi Regional EVP Realogy Brokerage Group
63 Greg Macres Regional EVP Realogy Brokerage Group
64 Tom Ferry Founder and CEO Tom Ferry International
65 Brian Buffini & Dermot Buffini Founder & CEO Buffini & Company
66 Brenda Tushaus CEO RE/MAX Results
67 Lawrence “Larry” Flick, V CEO BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors (a HomeServices of America Company)
68 Lacey Conway President and CEO Latter & Blum
69 Teresa King Kinney CEO Miami Association of Realtors
70 Greg Mason President and CEO Edina Realty Home Services (a HomeServices of America company)
71 Paul Morris Regional Owner Keller Williams Realty Forward Management
72 Joshua Harley Founder and CEO Fathom Holdings
73 Bill Scavone President and COO Weichert Real Estate Affiliates
74 Rob Lehman Chief Business Officer Compass
75 Jack Ryan Co-Founder and CEO REX Real Estate
76 Sean Black Co-Founder and CEO Knock
77 Candace Adams President and CEO BHHS New England, NY and Westchester Properties (a HomeServices of America company)
78 John DiMichele CEO Toronto Regional Real Estate Board
79 Joan Docktor President BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors (a HomeServices of America company)
80 David Osborn Regional Owner Keller Williams Realty North Texas
81 Ned Stringham CEO Inside Real Estate
82 Dan Forsman President and CEO BHHS Georgia Properties (a HomeServices of America company)
83 Mark Stark CEO BHHS Arizona, Nevada, California Properties (a HomeServices of America company)
84 Budge Huskey President and CEO Premier Sotheby’s International Realty
85 Drew Uher Founder and CEO HomeLight
86 Craig Cheatham President and CEO The Realty Alliance
87 Merri Jo Cowen CEO Stellar MLS
88 John Mazur President Homesnap
89 Scott Smith President and General Manager Constellation Software
90 Rick Haase President United Real Estate
91 Mauricio Umansky Founder and CEO The Agency
92 Christopher Alexander President RE/MAX Canada
93 Mike Pappas & Christina Pappas CEO & VP The Keyes Company
94 Rick Davidson Chairman and CEO Cairn Real Estate Holdings
95 Carolyn Cheng COO Royal LePage
96 Tamir Poleg Co-Founder and CEO The Real Brokerage
97 Rebecca Jensen President and CEO Midwest Real Estate Data
98 Mark Woodroof Managing Partner Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
99 Robin Sheakley CEO Sibcy Cline
100 Doug Seabolt CEO Rocket Homes Real Estate
101 Michael Bourque CEO The Canadian Real Estate Association
102 Michael Saunders & Drayton Saunders CEO & President Michael Saunders & Co.
103 Carl Liebert CEO kwx
104 Lawrence Yun SVP and Chief Economist National Association of Realtors
105 Tyler Smith Founder and CEO SkySlope
106 Paul Breunich President and Owner William Pitt/Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s
107 Prem Luthra President and CEO Elm Street Technology
108 Vince Leisey President BHHS Ambassador Real Estate (a HomeServices of America company)
109 Merrily Hackett Managing Partner Sutton WestCoast Realty
110 John Berkowitz Co-Founder and CEO OJO Labs
111 Jeremy Crawford CEO First Multiple Listing Service
112 Ben Graboske President Data and Analytics, Black Knight
113 Cameron Merage CEO First Team Real Estate
114 Kevin Wiles President BHHS PenFed Realty
115 Howard Tager Founder and CEO Ylopo
116 Joe Horning President and CEO Shorewest Family of Companies
117 Bryan Fair Regional Owner Keller Williams Pinnacle Partners
118 Mark Birschbach SVP National Association of Realtors
119 Chris Kelly President and CEO Ebby Halliday Companies (a HomeServices of America company)
120 Matthew “Matt” Consalvo CEO Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service
121 Gavin Swartzman CEO Peerage Realty Partners
122 Michael Wurzer President and CEO FBS
123 Adam Wiener President of Real Estate Operations Redfin
124 Dan Kruse President and CEO Century 21 Affiliated
125 Dionna Hall CEO Broward, Palm Beaches and St Lucie Realtors and BeachesMLS
126 Pierre Titley Co-Founder and President RE/MAX Quebec
127 Travis Kessler CEO Texas Association of Realtors
128 Grier Allen Founder and CEO BoomTown
129 Bradley “Brad” Inman Founder and Publisher Inman
130 Greg Rand Executive Vice President Central Region, Realogy Brokerage Group
131 Michael Mahon CEO Corcoran Global Living
132 Larry “Boomer” Foster President of General Brokerage Long & Foster Companies (a HomeServices of America company)
133 Sydney “Syd” Leibovitch Founder and CEO Rodeo Realty
134 James “Jim” Speer CEO OneKey MLS
135 Martha Mosier President BHHS California Properties (a HomeServices of America company)
136 Deems Dickinson President Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty
137 Mary Lee Blaylock SVP HomeServices of America
138 Deidre O’Connell CEO Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty
139 Clayton Collins Founder and CEO HW Media
140 Jonathan & Yvette Boatwright Co-Owners Realty Austin
141 Tom Hosack President and CEO BHHS The Preferred Realty
142 Todd Hetherington CEO Century 21 New Millennium
143 Margy Grant CEO Florida Realtors
144 Tim Hudak CEO Ontario Real Estate Association
145 Marc King President Keller Williams Realty
146 Morgan Carey Founder and CEO Real Estate Webmasters
147 John Featherston Founder and Publisher RISMedia
148 Mike Prodehl President and CEO Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group
149 Kristine “Kris” Burdick President Midwest Howard Hanna Real Estate
150 Jed Carlson CEO Adwerx
151 Mike Grady President and COO Coldwell Banker Bain
152 Ashley Farrugia CEO and Co-Founder ActivePipe
153 Pat Riley President and CEO Allen Tate Companies (a Hanna Holdings company)
154 Sandra Sanders Founder and Broker/Owner RE/MAX Estate Properties
155 Emily Chenevert CEO Austin Board of Realtors
156 Steve Brown President of Residential Sales Crye-Leike Realtors
157 Mark Lowham CEO TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
158 Alvaro Erize CEO CINC
159 Jeff Hyland Co-Founder and President Hilton & Hyland
160 Sam DeBord CEO Real Estate Standards Organization
161 Andrew Flachner President and Co-Founder RealScout
162 Liz Gehringer President Coldwell Banker Affiliates
163 Rod Messick CEO BHHS Homesale Realty
164 Pat Shea President and CEO Lyon Real Estate
165 Brian Arrington Founding Partner and CEO Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty
166 Court Cunningham CEO Orchard
167 Stephanie Anton SVP Corcoran Group
168 Lori Muller President US Division EXIT Realty Corp International
169 Simon Chen EVP of Product and Innovation Realogy Holding Corp.
170 Tom Hurdelbrink President and CEO Northwest Multiple Listing Service
171 Matthew Crumbaugh President and CEO Allison James Estates and Homes
172 Ken Schmidt & Mike Schmidt CEO & President Schmidt Family of Companies
173 Erik Cooley CEO Equity Real Estate
174 Gary Scott President Allen Tate Companies (a Hanna Holdings company)
175 Lori Arnold Owner and Broker Coldwell Banker Apex
176 Gretchen Pearson President and Owner BHHS Drysdale Properties
177 Elton Ash Regional EVP RE/MAX Canada
178 Brad Bjelke CEO
179 Denee Evans CEO Council of MLS
180 Natalia Karayaneva Founder and CEO Propy
181 Mark Spain Chairman and CEO Mark Spain Real Estate
182 Chris Carrillo CEO Metro MLS
183 Peter Hunt Chairman and CEO Hunt Real Estate Corp
184 Charles Drouin Founder and CEO Prospects Software
185 Rei Mesa President and CEO BHHS Florida Realty (a HomeServices of America company)
186 Tushar Garg Co-Founder and CEO Flyhomes
187 Michael Scarafile President and CEO Carolina One Real Estate
188 AnneMarie DeCatsye CEO Canopy MLS
189 Brian Crane Co-Founder and CEO Intero Real Estate (a HomeServices of America company)
190 Rosey Koberlein Chair Long Companies (a HomeServices of America company)
191 Kent Hanley President Broker Resource Network
192 Leslie Turner, Mary Lou Wertz & Olga Page Co-Founders Maison Real Estate
193 Christopher Masiello President and CEO Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group
194 Jennifer Warden Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Baird & Warner
195 Rob Barber CEO Attom Data Solutions
196 Ben Mizes Co-Founder and CEO Clever Real Estate
197 Ashley Bowers President HomeSmart
198 Matt Rand President New York and New Jersey Howard Hanna Real Estate
199 John Lusink President Right at Home Realty
200 Jared James Founder and CEO Jared James Enterprises

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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