Mark Willis, Strategic Consultant, Keller Williams.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Former Keller Williams CEO returns in consulting capacity 

Mark Willis, who previously served as both president and CEO at KW, is rejoining the company to assist with its market center growth.

July 12, 2023
2 minutes

Key points:

  • Mark Willis was president of Keller Williams between 2002 and 2005, then CEO from 2005 to 2015.
  • Willis was the center of a legal battle between KW and eXp after the cloud-based brokerage attempted to recruit him in 2021.
  • eXp CEO Glenn Sanford told Real Estate News that he “recognizes Mark’s value to the industry” and wishes him well.

Former Keller Williams CEO Mark Willis has returned to KW leadership, turning the page on a contentious chapter in his relationship with the company.

Keller Williams announced today that Willis is taking on a "strategic consulting" role, assisting with market center growth and expansion and stepping away from a potential role with eXp Realty.

"For over 32 years, Mark has served across all levels of leadership within KW. We're excited to continue on our successful path together," Keller Williams Co-founder and Executive Chairman Gary Keller said in the announcement.

Willis' prior tenure at Keller Williams began in the early '90s when he started as a team leader and regional director, his LinkedIn profile shows. He rose through the ranks to become president in 2002, and was named CEO in 2005. Willis vacated the CEO position in 2015 but has maintained partial ownership of the California-Inland Empire region since.

It was his ownership stake in this franchise — and previous experience as top executive — that led to a bitter legal battle between Keller Williams and eXp Realty when the cloud-based brokerage attempted to recruit Willis. A judge's restraining order which prevented Willis from joining eXp in February 2022 led to an ad hoc Twitter campaign and trending hashtag #FreeMarkWillis.

Now with the legal wrangling in the past, Willis' return to Keller Williams signals the closing of the chapter on his courtship by eXp. And it's all water under the bridge at this point — at least that was the response from eXp CEO Glenn Sanford.

"We recognize Mark's value to the industry and wish him success in his new role," Sanford told Real Estate News through a spokesperson.

Industry veteran Stefan Swanepoel, executive chairman of the real estate consultancy T3 Sixty and founder of both T3 Sixty and Real Estate News, also shared a positive sentiment about Willis' return to Keller Williams.

"Mark is one of the most dynamic and charismatic leaders the industry has seen in the past two decades and it's great to see him back in a formal role again with Keller Williams Realty," Swanepoel told Real Estate News.

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