People on the Move
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

People On the Move at United RE, eXp, Lake Homes Realty 

Brokerage leader Phillip Cantrell named SVP at United Real Estate; Carolyn Merchant promoted to CMO at eXp Realty; Lake Homes adds growth-focused leaders.

April 13, 2023
4 minutes

Editor's note: As an industry with millions of agents and over 100,000 brokerage companies, new leaders rise to the top every day. Here we highlight executives and other notable leaders who've recently taken on roles that influence the residential real estate landscape. 

Phillip Cantrell named EVP of strategy at United Real Estate

Texas-based United Real Estate has appointed industry veteran Phillip Cantrell to the newly created role of executive vice president of strategy. 

Phillip Cantrell, EVP of Strategy at United Real Estate; CEO, Benchmark Realty.
Phillip Cantrell, EVP of Strategy at United Real Estate; CEO, Benchmark Realty.

United Real Estate has been focused on growth despite the market downturn, launching new programs and tools in 2022 and 2023 which "significantly strengthen United's brokers' and agents' ability to outperform the adjusting market," according to a news release.

"We are in a unique position at this point in time to be able to lean in when the industry is contracting and make smart investments. United is purpose-built to profit in all phases of the market, which gives us a huge advantage over other legacy and next-generation brokerage models," said Dan Duffy, CEO of United Real Estate Group.

Cantrell's appointment reflects the company's growth priorities, and he will serve in both advisory and execution-oriented roles as SVP. Cantrell is also the CEO of Nashville-based Benchmark Realty, which he founded in 2006. The firm joined United's network in 2020, and Cantrell will continue in his role as CEO of Benchmark while taking on the additional responsibilities at United Real Estate. 

"When you are in rapid growth mode like United, you have to take time to measure, assess your strategic positioning in the market and see industry trends coming. Not doing it is how you get blindsided. It is critical to be on the leading edge of the curve so you can modify and adapt quickly," said Cantrell.

United Real Estate has more than 18,000 agents and closed more than $27 billion in sales volume in 2022.

Carolyn Merchant moves into CMO position at eXp

Virtual brokerage eXp Realty announced the appointment of a new chief marketing officer. Carolyn Merchant, who joined eXp in January 2022 as vice president of communications, was named CMO of the brokerage business last week. 

Carolyn Merchant, Chief Marketing Officer, eXp Realty.
Carolyn Merchant, Chief Marketing Officer, eXp Realty.

Key areas of focus for Merchant in her new role include brand marketing, agent enablement and agent growth. 

"The growth opportunity ahead of us is massive and core to that is our continued mission to be the most agent-centric brokerage by constantly innovating our agent value proposition," said CEO Glenn Sanford. 

"Carolyn brings extensive expertise and since joining eXp Realty, she has elevated our marketing and communications functions. I'm confident that she will continue to build out many new deliverables across the realty ecosystem, from our internal business units to the agent in the field sitting down to take their first listing," Sanford added. 

Prior to eXp, Merchant, who is based in Toronto, was the senior director of global brand and communications at commercial real estate giant Colliers. 

Courtney Keating will continue in her role as CMO of the brokerage's parent company, eXp World Holdings, where she oversees marketing efforts for all of the company's brands, including Virbela and SUCCESS Enterprises.

Leaders from Zillow and Pacaso join Lake Homes Realty

Specialty brokerage Lake Homes Realty is growing its footprint and its team.

The Birmingham-based firm recently moved into a larger headquarters and has recruited two industry veterans, Joe Gaeta and Kiki Wanshura, to leadership roles as it doubles down on growth.

Heather Glass, Joe Gaeta and Kiki Wanshura, Lake Homes Realty.
From left: Heather Glass, Joe Gaeta and Kiki Wanshura, Lake Homes Realty.

Gaeta was most recently at Zillow Group where he was director of broker development for ShowingTime+. He also spent six years as Zillow's director of business development, south region. In his new role as director of strategic growth at Lake Homes Realty, Gaeta will focus on expanding the company's reach. Lake Homes currently operates brokerages in 34 states and "remains in rapid growth mode," according to a news release.

Wanshura, who was named director of market acceleration, joins Lake Homes Realty from Pacaso, where she was manager of industry relations. She began her real estate career as an agent in 1997.

Gaeta and Wanshura will work closely with National Director of Development Heather Glass, formerly of Zillow Group and MoxiWorks.

"We remain highly focused on the lake real estate market and believe Joe, Kiki, and Heather have the experience to identify key agents in lake real estate and similar niches as we continue to expand," said Doris Phillips, COO at Lake Homes Realty and President of RealSource.

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