Coldwell Banker Announces ‘Project North Star’ Rebrand—Its First in 40 Years

Mar 18, 2019 by

  • Coldwell Banker is changing its logo after nearly 40 years, and adopting a fresh mission.
  • The brand will incorporate input from the network in the process of the rebrand, dubbed “Project North Star.”

Logo Update (Credit: Coldwell Banker Real Estate)

Coldwell Banker Real Estate is embarking on a major rebrand, entitled “Project North Star,” and enlisting its network to shape the transformation.

“We wanted every single one of our agents to be on this journey with us, so we decided to take the unconventional—but crucial—step of making this a transparent rebrand,” says Charlie Young, CEO and president of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Agents and brokers deserve to understand the upcoming changes, and to leverage those changes in a way that makes the most sense for their business.”

The announcement was made at the brokerage’s convention, the Generation Blue Experience, on Monday, where the company debuted a fresh logo, which combines the “C” and B” intersection with a star—evocative of its 113-year history, reliability and steadfast vision, now all the more critical in an evolving industry. The beloved blue coloring, Pantone 280, remains the same.

“This rebrand isn’t about change just for the sake of change,” says David Marine, chief marketing officer at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “We wanted a logo that truly captured the essence and power of our network. That’s why we chose the CB North Star. As a brand, we envision our agents and brokers as our guides—as our North Star.”

The brokerage’s box logo has been an industry mainstay for nearly 40 years—but in the era of digital media, the box configuration was limiting, Marine says.

Office Rendering (Credit: Coldwell Banker Real Estate)

Credit: Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Credit: Coldwell Banker Real Estate

“Creating an icon that can play well in digital, mobile and social environments was key,” explains Marine. “Our brand is something that’s worn by 92,000 people across the globe, so it needs to be an image of who our people are, because our brand story is told every single day not just in our messaging, but through our people.”

In a consumer survey, 80 percent found the logo more “innovative” than the previous one, which was deemed “out-of-date” by participants.

As part of Project North Star, Coldwell Banker is also altering its mission, now “We empower our people to leave their mark on the world of real estate.” In a practitioner survey, comprised of 1,000 Coldwell Banker affiliates and 600 affiliates of competitors, the change had an 80 percent satisfaction score.

Additionally, the company is reaffirming its values: home, awesomeness, ingenuity and excellence, all of which garnered 86-97 percent scores.

“This is us having a laser focus on who we truly are and how we resonate with today’s agents, and expresses the Coldwell Banker brand story history, as well as our view of the future,” Marine says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an agent leaving your mark on your own entrepreneurial business, or a broker leaving your mark on the community or a buyer or seller leaving your mark on finding that place to call home—our mission is to leave our mark, and empower our people to leave their mark, in the world of real estate.”

From now through September, the rebrand will be tested, with agents and brokers involved throughout the process and in real-world scenarios, such as on for-sale signs. The changes will be fully launched in 2020, with a multi-year roll-out scheduled. There will also be a “major consumer push,” according to Marine, in the fourth quarter of 2019 and into 2020.

According to Young, involving the network was paramount not only to develop the final product, but also to allow time to transition.

“With something as far-reaching as a rebrand, we know that the right thing to do is give our network as much notice as possible and include them in the process,” Young says. “That’s why we’ve designed this with an open, transparent structure.”

“Because of the size and scale of the footprint of the Coldwell Banker network, it only makes sense to allow them to have that opportunity to have a voice in the process,” Marine says.

Coldwell Banker collaborated with longtime partner Siltanen & Partners on the rebrand.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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Existing-Home Sales Increase for the First Time in Six Months

Nov 25, 2018 by

October existing-home sales increased last month, after six straight months of decreases, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Three of four major regions saw gains in sales activity last month.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 1.4 percent from September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.22 million in October. Sales are now down 5.1 percent from a year ago (5.5 million in October 2017).

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says increasing housing inventory has brought more buyers to the market. “After six consecutive months of decline, buyers are finally stepping back into the housing market,” he said. “Gains in the Northeast, South and West—a reversal from last month’s steep decline or plateau in all regions—helped overall sales activity rise for the first time since March 2018.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $ 255,400, up 3.8 percent from October 2017 ($ 246,000). October’s price increase marks the 80th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of October decreased from 1.88 million in September to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale, but that represents an increase from 1.80 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.4 last month and up from 3.9 months a year ago.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 33 days in October, up from 32 days in September but down from 34 days a year ago. Forty-six percent of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.

“As more inventory enters the market and we head into the winter season, home price growth has begun to slow more meaningfully,” said Yun. “This allows for much more manageable, less frenzied buying conditions.”®’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in October were Midland, Texas; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Odessa, Texas; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; and Columbus, Ohio.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.83 percent in October from 4.63 percent in September. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

“Rising interest rates and increasing home prices continue to suppress the rate of first-time homebuyers. Home sales could further decline before stabilizing. The Federal Reserve should, therefore, re-evaluate its monetary policy of tightening credit, especially in light of softening inflationary pressures, to help ease the financial burden on potential first-time buyers and assure a slump in the market causes no lasting damage to the economy,” says Yun.

First-time buyers were responsible for 31 percent of sales in October, down from last month and a year ago (32 percent). NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellersreleased in late 2018—revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 33 percent.

“Despite this much-welcomed month over month gain, sales are still down from a year ago, a large reason for which is affordability challenges from higher interest rates,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota and broker at Edina Realty. “Prospective buyers looking for their dream home in this market should contact a Realtor® as a first step in the buying process to help them navigate this more challenging environment.”

All-cash sales accounted for 23 percent of transactions in October, up from September and a year ago (21 and 20 percent, respectively). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in October, up from September and a year ago (both 13 percent).

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 3 percent of sales in October (the lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), unchanged from last month and down from 4 percent a year ago. Two percent of October sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales sit at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in October, up from 4.58 million in September, and are 5.3 percent below the 4.88 million sales pace from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $ 257,900 in October, up 4.3 percent from October 2017.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units in October, up 5.3 percent from last month but down 3.2 percent from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $ 236,200 in October, which is down 0.2 percent from a year ago.

Regional Breakdown
October existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 690,000, 6.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $ 280,900, which is up 3.0 percent from October 2017.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales declined 0.8 percent from last month to an annual rate of 1.27 million in October, down 3.1 percent overall from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $ 197,000, up 2.4 percent from last year.

Existing-home sales in the South rose 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.15 million in October, down 2.3 percent from last year. The median price in the South was $ 221,600, up 3.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West grew 2.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.11 million in October, 11.2 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $ 382,900, up 1.9 percent from October 2017.

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6 Steps to a Powerful First 6 Months in Real Estate

Oct 25, 2018 by

Setting the right pace and track for a successful first six months requires focus, clear vision and easy-to-implement strategies to kick your business into high gear this quarter and set yourself up for a breakthrough year.

  1. Clean your desk. Sound simple? Maybe. But there’s a lot of psychology behind this. A lot of chaos comes with being a real estate pro these days. By clearing the clutter and having a workspace that is free from distractions and mess, you give yourself a better landscape to practice your business.
  2. Square up your listing conversation.My uncle was a Navy man, and he was known for telling us to make sure everything was “squared up,” meaning it was as crisp and solid as it could be. Your listing conversation—or presentation as some of you might call it—is one of the most powerful and important components of a real estate professional’s business. Make sure it’s so perfect you could do it in your sleep. When you do, you’ll have more confidence to deliver it—and more confidence to prospect and land the appointments to deliver even more!
  3. Determine five things you’re comfortable talking about with sellers. For some people, it’s about getting over the discomfort of what to say and when to say it. When you have some backup material, it makes you feel more empowered. Find five things you can always converse about to have as your backup. For example, talk about your company’s impeccable reputation. If you’ve mastered open houses and following up with potential buyers, you can talk about that. Your listing conversation is more about speaking from your heart and your passion, not your head.
  4. Use the Listing Inventory chart to stay focused. Remember, it’s not just listings that are the name of the game, it’s listing inventory. This powerful little tool helps you visually keep track of your inventory, run your business like a business and motivate you to keep growing your business.
  5. Schedule specific days and times to prospect, and don’t waiver.Your prospecting time should be a non-negotiable appointment with yourself each week. I know it’s easy to get distracted in our business—and our world. If we wait until we feel like prospecting, we’ll never do it, right? So, my suggestion is to block off at least three times per week, for at least one hour per session. It’s a habit that will help you build your business and grow your wealth.
  6. Have a solid business plan with monthly goals for more momentum and urgency. Don’t over complicate it! As I always say, the problem with annual goals is that you don’t start paying attention to them until month eleven!

Darryl Davis, bestselling author of “How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate and owner of Darryl Davis Seminars, has trained and coached over 100,000 real estate professionals around the globe for more than 27 years. He is the founder of the Next Level® real estate training system, The Power Program®, which has helped agents double their production over their previous year. For more information, and the new agent tools that can help take you to your Next Level®, please contact or visit

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Red Oak Realty: Putting the Client First – A Winning Strategy for This East Bay Independent

Aug 11, 2018 by

(L to R) Vanessa Bergmark, Owner & CEO; Chris Crane, Director of Operations; Melissa Bush, SVP Sales; Passion Broussard, Sales Manager

Aug18_Red_Oak_Cover_300x420_300dpiFor Vanessa Bergmark, growth was never about bigger, but rather, better. As the owner and CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Red Oak Realty, Bergmark has led the company, which was founded in 1976, from 12th in marketshare to closing in on second without the typical brokerage formula of increasing offices and agent count. Instead, Bergmark turned her focus squarely on the consumer. “Having more agents isn’t what’s best for the consumer,” she explains. “Having agents that have resources that can protect and support the consumer is what matters.” Fresh off a rebranding that’s positioning the company for the future, Bergmark shares her strategy for helping homebuyers and sellers navigate the exceptionally lucrative yet challenging Bay Area real estate market in this exclusive interview.

Maria Patterson: Red Oak Realty has a rich history. Tell us a bit about it.
Vanessa Bergmark: The four founders started the company in 1976 in a garage in Albany, Calif.—just like Apple! Like a lot of companies in the ’70s, we were formed by a group of dissatisfied agents who didn’t feel they were getting the resources they needed, so they went out on their own and started Red Oak. The company has had great retention ever since. Many of the people who were with the company back then are still here today or just recently retired.

MP: When did you come on board?
VB: I joined the firm at the beginning of the downturn in 2007, when REOs were the norm and technology had moved very quickly into the real estate space. I had been running a large franchise and had just adopted my first child. The guys at Red Oak tracked me down and I went from running an office of 200 people to 20 people. Everyone said I was taking a step backwards, but to have the possibility to be home at 6:00 p.m. and not be on a plane all the time…I jumped at the opportunity.

After a year and a half, I took over both the Oakland and Berkeley offices as the general manager, and in 2010, purchased the company from the original four owners. At the time, a lot of people thought I was nuts. This was during the worst downturn in economic history, and, at that point, I had a two-year-old and a six-month-old.

MP: Interesting timing, given the start of the recession. How did you help the firm through it?
VB: I learned about REOs and short sales, got our agents into coaching and training, and moved everyone toward technology. We got off desktops and onto laptops. We moved into paperless transactions and advertising digitally and upping the ante with photography. I changed the operations of the company from a more traditional approach to one that was a bit more tech-savvy and strategic.

MP: So, where does the firm stand today in terms of size and marketshare?
VB: We have two offices and 116 agents and staff combined. We were 12th in marketshare when I bought the company, and now we’re hugging second place.

Red Oak Realty's Executive Team

Red Oak Realty’s Executive Team

MP: How did you achieve such impressive growth without acquiring offices and agents?
VB: We’re not a huge brokerage and our trajectory is not that of most traditional brokerages. We did it not by recruiting a massive amount of agents—we’re at just 100 agents. Rather than putting our efforts into recruiting a lot of agents, we focused on staffing. We hired a great marketing director, beefed up our transaction department and brought on superior legal support. We hired smart agents and focused on their needs. We upped all of our resources so that we could provide more support to agents in order to improve the client experience. We grew our marketing team with people who understood digital marketing and social media and all the things you can do today to advertise a property. For every property we list, there’s a process baked in to support our clients at a very high level.

MP: Why is this strategy of investing within, as opposed to spreading out, particularly important in your area?
VB: In the Bay Area, you might have to write 6-10 offers to get one into contract; properties move within 14 days. Much of the work is done on the front end by staff and agents before a listing even goes public. It’s like a production for a movie—and the seller is the one who benefits. I believed that having multiple offices spread out in multiple territories with multiple agents and multiple managers would be diluting the experience—what we wanted to offer was a distilled experience. So we grew our local market knowledge instead. And it’s worked. We were at $ 250 million in sales when I bought the company and we’re just under $ 1 billion today.

MP: So, how does your strategy of focusing on the agents you have rather than recruiting more agents translate to better service for the consumer…and increased profitability for your firm?
VB: Having more agents isn’t what’s best for the consumer. Having agents that have resources that can protect and support the consumer is what matters. Those resources don’t usually come in the form of another agent; they come in the form of a well-trained, sophisticated support staff on the back end—people who can do all the research and admin work so that the agent can focus on what they do best, which is knowing the market, getting the house prepared and successfully negotiating the transaction. Our model is to run the firm like a serious business. By doing so, our per-person production increased by 30-40 percent. The market changes like the tide; if you’re not full-time servicing several transactions a month, the consumer you’re working for won’t get the best service. Why bring in more agents who won’t do as many transactions per year? Why not support the ones you have instead?

Marketing knowledge is a key component to the brand's continued success.

Marketing knowledge is a key component to the brand’s continued success.

MP: How would you describe your market? What are the greatest challenges?
VB: We’re in the technology hub of the country, so our clientele demands that you’re technologically up to speed. They want to know that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to marketing a house and financing. Our clients are incredibly educated—we’re dealing with everyone from CEOs of tech companies to savvy millennials, and the way they communicate and the speed in which we have to respond is critical. When you’re moving properties within 14 days, marketing, speed and accuracy are of the utmost importance.

MP: How are you best serving the needs of your clientele?
VB: A lot of documents go into the contract here—our agents and staff have to know a lot about disclosures, condition and local ordinances. Rather than constantly outsourcing it, we looked at how the company can internally support the agent and the client by taking this part of the job over.

As opposed to being part of a franchise, we’re deeply ingrained in a specific community. Berkeley, Calif., is unlike anywhere else in the country. There’s a high income and it’s an expensive place to live. It’s also still counterculture and doesn’t respond to elite marketing. If you try to go glitzy to appeal to the 1 percent, it works against you. So the question we ask is, “What am I doing today that will help my buyer and seller?” What am I doing to train and prepare my agents to take care of that person? Will having a lot of inexperienced agents help that consumer? Probably not. We’re hyper-focused on what our sellers need and getting their property exposed and sold.

The company rebrand includes new colors and patterns developed by 1000 Watt Consulting.

The company rebrand includes new colors and patterns developed by 1000 Watt Consulting.

MP: It sounds like you really take a consultative approach with every client…
VB: One of the most important things we do is educate the consumer. It’s so easy to get frustrated in this market. Educating them on what they can afford and showing them the data so that they don’t end up bidding against themselves is critical. We also educate them on financing. We can’t make the low-inventory piece go away; what we can do is help them get started within this ecosystem and not put their home-buying plans on hold for the next six years. We let people know, “Here are the tools you have; don’t go to this neighborhood—we know you love it, but this is what you can spend, so let us introduce you to this alternative where your buying power might be stronger.” From the seller’s perspective, we advise them on many things, such as how much they should put into the house to get the right return.

MP: Tell us about the typical process of working with a seller.
VB: When we first meet with someone, we really hone in on the hyperlocal statistics. Agents are well versed on market data and have access to yearly, quarterly and monthly statistics on every neighborhood that affects us. We take it down to the microscopic level and break it down by house type, by certain features that have high demand, and analyze the impact of that for sellers. That’s what we do on the front end prior to marketing. Then it’s about positioning the property for maximum return. You have to market in the portals and in the local community by word of mouth. Should there be video? A floor plan? How involved does the seller want to get in prep, interior design and landscaping? A lot of buyers don’t have time to do a renovation or put in a garden, so we often provide referrals for that. Then we focus on the best ways to market, set bid dates and create demand on those dates. All of this is done weeks, if not months, in advance by the agent. This is all very thoughtfully prepared in advance in a very methodical way.

MP: Your market is very competitive. How are you setting the company apart?
VB: We just rebranded the company. We looked at how our colors and logo play in the digital world across social media and all the digital portals, as well as print. We needed to make sure we wouldn’t get lost in the volume—that we would stand out online, in a magazine or when you’re simply driving by. We needed to make sure people would pay attention. We wanted to get both higher marketshare and consumer mindshare.

MP: How do you stay innovative in terms of marketing?
VB: I’m always very cautious about saying what the next big thing is, such as video, which can work against a property if it’s used incorrectly. It’s our job to make the property look as best as possible, then price it competitively to the right demographic. On Facebook, you can do a lot of targeted marketing.

We also hired a PR company out of LA, Lion & Orb. Anytime we get a listing, we snap photos and get the story to our PR team who then crafts a great narrative and pitches it out to publications such as Dwell, the Wall Street Journal, Curbed, etc. That’s a huge piece of our marketing with massive reach for the property and a huge benefit to our sellers.

MP: What’s on deck for the future of the firm?
VB: The firm’s focus will be on using our rebranding to have a more powerful national and local reach. We’re looking at growing our marketing team and adding services that will benefit clients. Right now, we’re all about how we serve our clients, not just in one transaction, but during the course of the homeownership experience. It’s all about learning how to stay relevant to your customer and giving them what they need as a busy homeowner. We want to take care of them on an abundant level, not only as a buyer and seller, but as a homeowner, too.

For more information, please visit

Patterson_Maria_60x60Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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