The Coldwell Banker Tradition –
The story of Coldwell Banker® is a story of leadership and success. From its beginnings in San Francisco in 1906, Coldwell Banker has grown to become one of the premier residential real estate organizations in the world. Coldwell Banker was founded on a commitment to professionalism and customer service that continues to be the core of its business philosophy today. Coldwell Banker provides its sales associates with the strongest support in the real estate industry so they in turn can deliver the support their buyers and sellers need. That’s the Coldwell Banker tradition.
The Coldwell Banker Heritage
After the devastating earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906, young real estate agent Colbert Coldwell saw the need for honest, knowledgeable and professional real estate services to help the city rebuild. Coldwell disapproved of the common practice of that day where real estate agents acquired properties for themselves, often from uninformed sellers at ridiculously low prices, and then resold them for huge profits.
With two partners, on August 27, 1906, he formed the real estate company of Tucker, Lynch and Coldwell, dedicated to the principal that they would work only for their customers and not trade for their own account, the beginning of a tradition of integrity and customer support that continues to this day.
In 1913, Benjamin Arthur Banker joined the firm as a salesman, and he and Colbert Coldwell quickly discovered they held similar views and ethics. Banker became a partner in 1914, and the two remained active in the company throughout their lives.
The Company Grows
The early years of the growing, Coldwell Banker was devoted primarily to commercial real estate, the brokerage firm’s first residential real estate office opened in San Francisco in 1925, and a full fledged residential real estate department was formed in 1937. The company’s geographic expansion began in the 1920s with the opening of offices in Southern California, followed by Phoenix in the early 1950s and Seattle in 1969. In the 1970s, Coldwell Banker acquired prestigious residential real estate firms in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
By 1980, Coldwell Banker had also acquired a national referral service (now Coldwell Banker Referral Network), and Previews Inc., an international luxury real estate marketing organization (which has evolved into the present-day Coldwell Banker Previews International®).
In 1981, Coldwell Banker was acquired by Sears, Roebuck and Co., joining Dean Witter Financial Services Group and Allstate Insurance group as a member of the Sears Financial Network. Sears provided the resources and impetus for even more rapid expansion, development of products, and integration of services. Another landmark in 1981 was the launch of Coldwell Banker Residential Affiliates, Inc. for the franchising of the highest quality residential brokerage companies. Through the acquisition of companies in major metropolitan areas across the United States, as well as the dramatic expansion of Residential Affiliates, the growth of Coldwell Banker during the 1980s was phenomenal. The company’s share of the residential real estate market grew from 1.3 in 1981 to over 10% by the end of the decade.
1987 saw Coldwell Banker affiliates become the first in the industry to offer comprehensive guarantees to sellers. A similar buyers program was established five years later.
By 1990, Coldwell Banker had locations in all fifty states, and had begun international expansion with offices in Canada and Puerto Rico. The company’s focus on residential real estate was strengthened with the sale of Coldwell Banker Commercial Group (now known as CB Commercial).
Coldwell Banker continued to set the standard for the real estate industry. In 1992, Coldwell Banker affiliates became the first to advocate and practice Seller Disclosure well before it was required by law in some states. By incorporating this consumer-focused issue, Coldwell Banker helped change the practice of real estate in many markets.
Coldwell Banker began a new phase of its growth in 1993 when it was purchased from Sears by the Fremont Group (a private investment company formerly known as Bechtel Investments, Inc.) and company senior management. Another milestone in 1993 was the substantial increase of Coldwell Banker® presence in Canada. Coldwell Banker Affiliates of Canada, a joint venture of Coldwell Banker and Canada Trust, builds on heritage of more than 40 years of Canadian real estate brokerage experience. It is one of Canada’s largest real estate operations with more than 200 offices and thousands of sales representatives coast to coast.
In 1995, Coldwell Banker became the first national, first-service real estate brand to have a presence online with the launch of www.coldwellbanker.com.
1996 proved to be another banner year for the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation. In January, Coldwell Banker once again obtained the rights to sell commercial real estate. The Coldwell Banker Commercial® program allows affiliates to produce a wide array of services including market research, acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, asset and property management, investment property sales, corporate consulting and advisory services.
In May, Coldwell Banker was acquired by HFS Incorporated, then world’s largest franchisor of hotels and residential real estate brokerage offices, ushering in a new and exciting era in the history of the brand. The unsurpassed franchising experience of HFS, together with its assertive approach to increasing brand awareness, positioned Coldwell Banker for accelerated expansion in both existing and new markets.
1997 saw parent company HFS merge with CUC International, forming the new Cendant Corporation. This was also the year that Coldwell Banker became the first national real estate brand to maximize cross-marketing promotions with such other well-known brands as Cadillac and Ethan Allen. The program led to more than 200,000 leads generated across the United States.
Coldwell Banker started 1998 by continuing to provide unparalleled service to its affiliates, with added benefits and expanded preferred alliances. In February, the company introduced “Personal Retriever”, the revolutionary Web site enhancement that ‘fetches and retrieves’ home listings via e-mail to the consumer according to their specific home buying criteria.
That year, Coldwell Banker also became the first full-service real estate brand to unveil a concierge program, named Coldwell Banker Concierge® Service Program, a unique system for its broker affiliates to offer home buyers and sellers centralized access to various real estate related services. This true one-stop-shopping concept helps consumers by centrally coordinating the details of their move and home set up through local Coldwell Banker real estate offices. In 2002, Coldwell Banker became the first national real estate company selected by the National Concierge Association to receive prestigious membership affiliation for Coldwell Banker Concierge.
In 2005, Coldwell Banker became the first full-service national real estate brand to launch a stand-alone Web site for upscale properties with www.coldwellbankerpreviews.com.
Later that year, it was announced that Cendant would spin off its four divisions – real estate, hotel, car rental and hospitality services. Coldwell Banker would now be part of a stand-alone real estate company named Realogy in late 2006. Realogy’s brands – Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, Century 21®, ERA® and Sothebys International Realty® (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate was added in 2007) – combine to participate in one-of-every-four residential real estate transactions in the United States.
At the start of 2006, Coldwell Banker began celebrating its 100th anniversary. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared February 13-19 “Coldwell Banker Week” in recognition of the anniversary and United States President George Bush sent a congratulatory letter commemorating the milestone. Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation, led a Coldwell Banker contingent in ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on August 21, 2006 to commemorate the brand’s 100th anniversary.
2006 also saw the brand reach a major milestone in its community involvement with the conclusion of its “100 Homes” initiative. Coldwell Banker affiliated companies around the nation raised more than $6 million to sponsor more than 100 local Habitat for Humanity home builds, making Coldwell Banker the second largest Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in the nation for the year. It was cited as the greatest community give back in real estate history.
Coldwell Banker also continued to set industry standards in 2006. In February, www.coldwellbanker.com began offering streaming video to educate, inform and entertain consumers. It marked the first time a full-service national real estate company unveiled such technology. In September, the new Coldwell Banker Personal Retriever® was unveiled. Utilizing Real Simple Syndication (RSS) technology, the online Personal Retriever now has a downloadable “widget” application that automatically delivers daily, personalized real estate listings directly to a computer desktop. A month later, the Web site unleashed satellite mapping functionality to enhance listings.
Coldwell Banker also advanced its platform of innovation by becoming the first national real estate company to join the popular virtual world in www.secondlife.com in March 2007. Four months later, the brand extended its presence in Second Life by unveiling a 3-D exact replica of a $3.1 million real home for sale in Mercer Island, Wash. Coldwell Banker was the first national real estate brand to make a real home available for 3-D home tours in the virtual world.
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC was named the 2007 Inman Innovator Award winner in the brokerage/franchisor category. Coldwell Banker was also named the top real estate franchise for the eighth straight year by Franchise Times. Coldwell Banker was honored for its use of such Web 2.0 resources as streaming video, Personal Retriever widget, HomeTracker and AgentSpace.
Awards continued to flow to Coldwell Banker in early 2008. In February, the brand’s intranet site, www.coldwellbankerworks.com, was named one of the world’s best according to the Nielsen Norman Group’s “Intranet Design Annual 2008: The Year’s 10 Best Intranets” report.
The Coldwell Banker “100 Homes for Habitat” campaign was named as one of five finalists for the prestigious PRNews Corporate Social Responsibility award in the “Stakeholder Engagement Category.
In May, Coldwell Banker Home Tracker was named one of five finalists by the American Business Awards in the Software Programming/Design category. Coldwell Banker, which already syndicates its listings to Yahoo, Google, Trulia, Frontdoor, Zillow, Openhouse, Homescape and others, then became the first national real estate company to offer its listings on a mobile GPS device through an arrangement with Dash Navigation.
A month later, Coldwell Banker unveiled its “Housetrology” quiz on the Facebook.com becoming the first full-service real estate company to develop an application for the popular social networking site. More than 10,000 took the quiz through the end of 2008.
October saw the U.S. economy come to a halt due to a historic credit crisis. But just days after, Coldwell Banker affiliated companies sent a message to the nation that proper pricing remained a critical factor in getting homes sold. The brand ran an industry-first 10-Day Sales Event that saw more than 36,000 sellers participate by lowering their listing prices by roughly 10 percent. The results were staggering. Along with unmatched media coverage, the 10-Day Sales Event saw approximately six percent of those homes sold during or soon after the event with another 70% deciding to leave their listings at the adjusted price.
That same month, following a “Listings Anytime, Anywhere” mantra, Coldwell Banker became the first national real estate brand to configure its Web site for use by mobile users on Blackberry and iPhones. In the first four months of availability, more than 100,000 home searches were conducted via these smart phones. In December the brand made international listings from 28 countries available too.
The Coldwell Banker brand continued on its path of innovating in the real estate industry in March 2009 with the debut of an application for Microsoft Surface. This coffee-table like computer has a screen on top that essentially serves as a giant iPhone where hand movements dictate what the users sees and interacts with. The Surface units acted as the ultimate engager and made its public debut at Las Vegas’ Fashion Mall in June.
Two months later, Coldwell Banker launched a true “game changer” with Coldwell Banker On Location (www.youtube.com/coldwellbanker). The channel was created to fully tap into the power of video for real estate search and discovery, and to drill deeper into the local insights that consumers want. Coldwell Banker Real Estate closely collaborated with both YouTube, a Google subsidiary, and Google to develop a customized framework and user experience – offering what is arguably one of the most comprehensive and immersive brand channels on the YouTube platform. On Location is the first branded YouTube channel to use dynamic IP lookup to search for videos, which automatically serves up local results when visitors first hit the site.
The attention to mobile technology returned in July 2009 with Coldwell Banker becoming the first national brand with international listings on an iPhone, Blackberry and Google Android application.
With the end of the federal tax credit for homebuyers, in May 2010, Coldwell Banker launched its first Buyer Bonus Sales Event. Sellers offered a 3 percent credit at closing (up to $8000 to mimic the tax credit) for those how signed a contract prior to July 31, 2010. More than 20,000 sellers participated.
In June, the popular www.coldwellbanker.com was re-launched and re-defined the home searching experience. Utilizing similar successful search capabilities from other industries, Coldwell Banker popularized a “keyword” search, along with a “you may also like” feature that showcases other homes similar to a home a user just selected. BlueScape was also unveiled as the first visually-driven real estate search platform allowing users to click “thumbs up/down” to a series of images to define their search.
Later in 2010, www.coldwellbanker.com became the first to offer a lifestyle search. BlueScape, along with the brand’s BlueMatter consumer blog, were nominated for the prestigious Inman Innovator Awards. The site was honored in December with the LACP Gold Top 100 Spotlight Award.
In July, Coldwell Banker received the Communicator Creative Excellence Award from the International Academy of Visual Arts for Coldwell Banker On Location, the brand’s YouTube channel.
Coldwell Banker On Location, the brand’s YouTube channel, surpassed the 2 million videos viewed mark in November 2010.
In January 2011, for the second straight year, Coldwell Banker Real Estate earned a spot of the prestigious Training Magazine Top 125 honoring the brand’s learning platform.
Two months later, Coldwell Banker Real Estate became the first national real estate brand with an iPad app and also worked in conjunction with Apple to be one of the first brands in any category to launch an iAd for the revolutionary tablet device.
In April, Coldwell Banker Real Estate was named a 2011 Official Honoree of the Webby Awards for www.coldwellbanker.com
In January 2012. According to Nielsen and comScore Media Metrix, the two global leaders in digital measurement, Coldwell Banker branded websites had the highest number of unique visitors among all national real estate franchise brands for full-year 2011. This marks the second consecutive year that the Coldwell Banker brand ranked No. 1 in Web traffic among all real estate franchisors.
A month later, Coldwell Banker Real Estate ranked No. 9 overall among companies from all industries for its Coldwell Banker University training platform in the annual Training Top 125 by Training magazine, Coldwell Banker Real Estate was the highest ranked real estate franchise on the list and was in the company of some of the most prominent training programs in the country.
In March 2012. Coldwell Banker Real Estate launched Coldwell Banker Heroes, a new charitable tracking program that recognizes the full scope of those within the Coldwell Banker system who assist those in need. The newly created program highlights the financial giving, time, goods and services donated to charitable organizations by members of the Coldwell Banker global network. The program recorded more than $4.7 million and 45,000 hours by the end of the year in charitable giving.
That same month, a survey from online career community CareerBliss identifies Coldwell Banker Real Estate Chief Executive Officer, Jim Gillespie, as one of the 10 most admired CEOs across 3,400 companies. Gillespie was chosen from an analysis of more than 10,000 respondents who graded vision and leadership. Gillespie was the only representative from the real estate industry on the top 10 list. He was joined in the top 10 list by CEOs from companies such as Amazon, FedEx and Qualcomm.
Also in March, Coldwell Banker again led the RealTrends/Wall Street Journal “The Thousand” with more than 215 agents represented. It marked the seventh straight year Coldwell Banker had more agents included that any other national brand on the prestigious agent rankings.
In April 2012. Coldwell Banker Real Estate was named among the top 45 companies for excellence in learning and development by Chief Learning Officer magazine in its second annual LearningElite rankings. Coldwell Banker Real Estate was ranked in No. 19, and was the only real estate brand named to the list.
In May 2012. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC announced the launch of a completely updated website and new marketing campaign for Coldwell Banker Previews International®, the brand’s luxury home sales program. The effort highlights Henderson Talbot, a real estate entrepreneur from the 1930s who used film to “preview” exclusive homes among clients and contacts. That ingenuity inspired the “Previews” name years ago, and holds true today, as video and high-end photography have emerged as essential sales tools for luxury real estate properties. www.coldwellbankerpreviews.com was honored in September with the Web Award for the “Outstanding Website” achievement of excellence in design and functionality by the Web Marketing Association.
In June 2012. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC unveiled its new BluePoint career development program to further enable its new and experienced agents the opportunity to grow their business. The platform allows Coldwell Banker managers the opportunity to quickly gauge a newly-hired Coldwell Banker agent’s productivity levels and learning needs to guide them on a “roadmap” of appropriate Coldwell Banker University courses and activities.
On July 20, 2012, Budge Huskey was named to succeed Jim Gillespie as chief executive officer effective January 1, 2013. Gillespie would become chairman emeritus. The announcement was made by Richard A. Smith, chairman, CEO and president of Realogy Corporation and Alex Perriello, president and CEO of the Realogy Franchise Group and initially shared at the brand’s annual Chairman’s Circle event held in Bermuda.
In October 2012. Coldwell Banker Real Estate received two silver designations from the Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards for individual categories of Best Learning Measurement Approach and Best Use of Social and Collaborative Learning. Furthermore, David Birnbaum, vice president of learning for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, was presented with the gold honor for the CLO Business Impact Award category at the Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning in Practice Awards.
On January 1, 2013 Budge Huskey officially was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC as Jim Gillespie assumed the Chairman Emeritus role.
On January 3, 2013, Coldwell Banker Real Estate unveiled its new mobile applications, complete
with key features that produce a unique user-friendly interface for ease of functionality and an enhanced domestic and international home search experience. This includes a new interactive draw tool called Map Sketch that allows users to select a search area by tracing a shape on any map to view listings.
Later than month, Coldwell Banker Real Estate unveiled its 2013 advertising strategy focused on reaching mass audiences via the major awards shows. The Coldwell Banker “Blue Carpet” strategy included the brand advertising on the Golden Globe Awards, GRAMMY Awards, Oscars and Emmys with the new “We Believe” spots featuring Tom Selleck’s voice over and Phil Phillips song “Home” debuting on the February 10 GRAMMYs. That spot emerged as the seventh best received commercial on the Oscars by ACE Metrix and was named by the organization as the top real estate commercial ever.
On January 28, President and CEO Budge Huskey promoted Michael Fischer to Chief Operating Officer after his five-year stint as the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer.
On February 20, Coldwell Banker Real Estate was ranked third overall, and tops in real estate, for its Coldwell Banker University training program in the annual Training 125 by Training Magazine.