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Another big real estate company slashes top employees

With brokerages facing the slow season in an already-slowing housing market, Wall Street is driving the share prices of publicly traded residential firms back to pre-pandemic levels after last year’s boom.

Real Estate Stock Prices

But there are two sides to every trade. While some investors have reduced their positions in Anywhere — the nation’s largest residential franchisor, whose brands include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Corcoran and Sotheby’s International Realty — others are buying the dip.

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International real estate investor Angelo Gordon has been the hungriest, increasing the value of its Anywhere holdings nearly fivefold since April, making it the firm’s fifth-largest owner, according to data from investment analytics firm Simply Wall St.

Some institutional investors — who must report changes in their stock holdings to the Securities and Exchange Commission on a quarterly basis — appear content to sit on their Anywhere stock, including Fidelity Institutional Asset Management, Dimensional Fund Advisors and State Street Global Advisors.

That’s proven costly in the short term: The price of Anywhere stock began the second quarter at $15.68, declined 37 percent to $9.83 by the end of June, and another 17 percent to $8.11 at the end of the third quarter. Shares closed at $6.61 on Thursday, down 61 percent since the start of the year.

BlackRock and Vanguard, the two largest glaciers moving through the equity markets (State Street being the nation’s third-largest institutional investor), have taken differing approaches: BlackRock has sold nearly one million Anywhere shares since June, while Vanguard has bought a modest 26,000, according to Simply Wall St.

Stock prices could slide further if earnings on sales commissions continue to decline. Anywhere reported $55 million in third-quarter income, down from $114 million in the same period last year.

Real Estate Layoffs

Cost-cutting measures including layoffs and changing commission splits may help buoy the stock of residential brokerages, possibly blunting the impact of the down cycle, but not overcoming it.

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Real estate transaction volume was down 17 percent last quarter at Anywhere, and Schneider has warned it could worsen to 25 percent through the end of the year

Few trades among insiders have occurred at Anywhere lately. In August, the company’s chief technology officer, Nashira Layade, sold 3,500 shares at a price of $12.65, and another 2,000 shares for $10.88 apiece, according to SEC filings.

Big real estate brokerages are betting that they can still attract agents with their brand power. Anywhere CEO Ryan Schneider described a “return or flight to quality” in the company’s third-quarter earnings call, while Compass CEO Robert Reffkin has said his company’s technology platform will help it retain agents.

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