Keller Williams cuts jobs as Austin market cools

Brokerage lays off 4.6 percent of HQ staff

From left: Keller Williams' Sajag Patel and Gary Keller
From left: Keller Williams' Sajag Patel and Gary Keller (Keller Williams, Getty)

Keller Williams Realty slashed jobs at the company’s Austin headquarters last week, making it the first brokerage in the area to announce layoffs in the face of a cooling local housing market.

The company cut 4.6 percent of its jobs, laying off 23 of the 498 employees at the brokerage’s worldwide headquarters, the Austin American-Statesman reported Friday.

The layoffs were a response to the fact that “the market has shifted dramatically,” Keller Williams COO Sajag Patelchief told employees in a Thursday e-mail. In addition to laying off employees, the company “restructured a range of departments” at its headquarters.

Laid-off employees were offered severance pay and will get extended health benefits, said spokesman Darryl Frost. Affected employees “are welcome to apply for other positions” with the company, he added.

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In recent years, the Austin-based real estate brokerage has had some shakeups on the upper-management end. Co-founder Gary Keller stepped down as CEO as part of a corporate restructuring in 2020, but he remained its executive chairman as well as that of KWx, a holding company that represents the company’s affiliates and subsidiaries. Keller Williams went CEO-less, Carl Liebert — who has been an executive at USAA, Home Depot, General Electric, 24-Hour Fitness, and, briefly, AutoNation but had no experience in the real estate industry — became the KWx CEO at that time.

Liebert stepped down in June, and KWx restructured again. The holding company went without a CEO, but Keller returned to a more active role while remaining executive chairman. All of its chief executives — including Patel, who filled the newly created COO role — report to Keller.

Home prices in the Austin metro area in July grew at their slowest rate in nearly two years, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. The number of home sales declined for the fifth month in row both within the city limits and in the surrounding area.

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Director of public relations and media relations Darryl Frost (LinkedIn, iStock)
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From left to right: Keller Williams president Marc King, Carl Liebert, CEO of KWx, the parent holding company of KW and Gary Keller, executive chairman, KWx and Keller Williams. (Keller Williams/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
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Cindy Widner