Bruce Zipf

President and CEO, NRT

Overall Rank: 8
Category: Power Brokers
Category Rank: 1

Zipf is the quiet power behind the nation’s largest real estate brokerage NRT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of real estate giant Realogy. NRT is the biggest brokerage in the nation by a mile and then some.

Realogy (NYSE: RLGY) has almost 800 offices and over 47,000 agents in 50 of the U.S.’s 100 largest metros who are responsible for more than 340,000 transaction sides and $166 billion in annual sales. Its sales volume was larger than that of the next nine largest companies put together based on the 2016 REAL Trends broker survey stats. That is dominance at its finest.

But 2016 revealed some operating challenges for NRT, which mirrors similar hiccups taking place across the traditional brokerage spectrum. Although its revenue and earnings numbers were both impressive by any measure – $3.34 billion in revenue and $131 million in EBITDA over the first nine months of 2016 – both represent drops from NRT’s production at the same point the year previous. Realogy’s third quarter earnings report spells out the challenges NRT faces: competition for the most productive agents, which NRT has been losing more than it would like because of its more traditional compensation structure and other issues.

Many of Realogy’s strategic initiatives involve adjusting to this changing competitive landscape. The giant has added several new executive positions including a chief strategy and operating officer, a new chief recruiting officer and a new president of company-generated business. There are also many senior executive regional changes in the works. Most of these activities are designed to ensure this huge ship remains as competitive as it can be. One major initiative will be to more effectively cater to agent teams, which have become a powerful force in the industry, an area where NRT, like many other traditional brokerages, has lagged behind competitors such as Keller Williams Realty.

Zipf remains the behind-the-scenes and unassuming CEO of NRT, which he has led since 2005. And as the man in charge of the $166 billion volume behemoth, he unequivocally remains one of the most powerful people in the residential real estate brokerage industry.