BrokerageReal Estate

Cost-focused Anywhere plans to slow commission split growth

Brokerage conglomerate made $55M profit in Q3 and expects a slowdown in Q4

Given the headwinds faced by the industry during the third quarter of 2022, Ryan Schneider, the CEO and president of Anywhere, is happy with how the company performed.

“We began to see the competitive environment shift in our favor and our position of strength allows us to invest for growth in our core business and to simplify the consumer experience of buying and selling a home,” Schneider told investors and analysts during Anywhere’s third-quarter earnings call Thursday morning. “The biggest challenge today is the rapid deterioration of the housing market.

During the third quarter, the real estate brokerage conglomerate generated total revenue of $1.8 billion and a net income of $55 million. Both metrics were down year over year, with decreases of 17% and 52% respectively.

Anywhere attributes these decreases to increased legal accrual fees as the various anti-trust and Telephone Consumer Protection Act suits it is involved in ramped up, the absences of revenue from its title group due to the sale of its underwriter during Q1 2022, and lower overall home sale transaction volume.

Overall transaction volume was down 17% year over year during the quarter, which Schneider told investors was in line with the firm’s estimates of a 10-20% annual decrease. When broken down into the franchise group versus the owned brokerage group, the brokerage group performed better with just a 15% yearly decrease in transaction sides for the quarter to 86,022. The franchise group recorded a 23% year-over-year decrease in transaction sides during Q3, resulting in 243,494 closed sides.

The firm attributed this discrepancy to the relative resilience of the luxury market, or homes worth more than $750,000, which the brokerage group deals with more often than the franchise group.

“We had less decline in listings in that $750,000 and up luxury area than we did below that,” Schneider said. “You also don’t have as many mortgages in the luxury segment and the mortgage rates are such a crush right now. The tightest inventory is in the first time homebuyer category and they are also hit the worst by the higher mortgage rates.”

Despite the decrease in transaction volume, the average home sales price for both the franchise group and the brokerage group was up year over year, rising 5% for the franchise group to $449,313 and 3% for the brokerage group to $681,387.

“We are seeing pretty meaningful geographic variation,” Schneider said. “Units are down meaningfully, but price is flat-ish or a little bit up and I think there is some supply and demand issues that create that.”

As the firm looks to the fourth quarter of 2022, Schneider said he anticipates transaction side volume to drop roughly 25% year over year. As such, Anywhere is continuing to look for ways to cut costs this year and into 2023.

Charlotte Simonelli, the firm’s CFO, said Anywhere is on track to hit its yearly savings target of $140 million and will most likely surpass it, reaching $150 million. Of these cuts, Simonelli said $80 million will be permanent and others will be reevaluated in the coming year.

As part of its cost cutting efforts, Anywhere executives said the firm has been evaluating its agent commission split structure. With Anywhere Advisors recording a 7% increase in agent count from the same quarter last year, commission splits were a hot topic among analysts during Thursday’s call.

While Simonelli was unable to give specifics on what the overall average split would look like moving forward as it depends upon volume and what agents are selling the homes (higher performing agents typically have higher splits, while newer agents typically have lower splits), she did note the split increases for well performing agents would moderate.

Besides cutting costs, Schneider said Anywhere is looking to improve the consumer experience by streamlining the homebuying process through the integration of its brokerage with its title and mortgage joint venture. The firm hopes a better consumer experience will attract more buyers and sellers to work with Anywhere or Anywhere Franchise agents, bolstering the firm’s revenue as the market slows.

Despite the challenges posed by the slowing market, Schneider said he feels that Anywhere is in a good place to tackle any further shifts in the market.

“I still believe the long-term housing market outlook in pretty good, driven in large part by positive demographics, strong consumer balance sheet and strong demand for housing,” Schneider said. “We believe we’re well positioned for the future taking a proactive approach to confront the challenging near-term market and continuing to look ahead to group our business, simplify the transaction for the consumer and create competitive differentiation.”

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