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Agents are ‘most underserved’ entrepreneurs, Coldwell Banker CEO says 

Kamini Lane, who took the helm less than a year ago, has reshaped her leadership team and sharpened her focus on empowerment and making a positive impact.

Nicole Brodeur

March 11, 2024

Key points:

  • Lane moved into the top leadership role at Coldwell Banker after a stint as brokerage president at Sotheby’s Realty.
  • Supporting entrepreneurs and “giving them the right growth strategies” has been a key part of her career.
  • Her mother taught her to “dream big,” and she believes real estate can be especially empowering for women to “stand on their own.”

Kamini Lane has never put up a for-sale sign, hosted an open house or written an offer for a buyer.

But she has made a career of helping entrepreneurs, and as the president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Realty, Lane supports a nationwide army of them: more than 52,000 agents doing business in more than 55 markets.

“I love it,” Lane told Real Estate News. “It’s just an incredible fit.”

Lane moved into the role last March after just under a year as Sotheby’s International Realty brokerage president and more than two years in leadership roles at Compass.

Three months into the new job, Lane launched an extensive reorganization at Coldwell Banker, putting seven regional presidents — “incredibly skilled leaders” — just below her.

Lane appreciates having people with intimate knowledge of the business in executive positions.

“You’re able to listen better to agents and prioritize what they need to be productive agents,” she said.

That’s more important than ever, she added, as the industry continues to grapple with a tough market.

“In this challenging environment, it’s incumbent on brokerages to give agents what they need to thrive.”

To help identify those needs, Lane has visited a cross-section of Coldwell Banker brokerages in places like New Jersey, Chicago, Northern California, Southeast Florida and Miami. She has prioritized “hitting the ground again” throughout 2024.

Supporting entrepreneurs ‘in the background’ 

Lane considers herself a good listener — and a strong advocate for entrepreneurship.

One of her first jobs out of college was working on eBay’s Category Management Team for Fashion. A big part of that role, she said, was supporting the entrepreneurs who sold on the site.

“A lot of my job was figuring out marketing and PR for those people, and I really loved that,” she said. “I loved being part of the success of an entrepreneur, but in the background. Giving them the right growth strategies.”

After getting her MBA, she went on to become chief marketing officer at Tradesy, a peer-to-peer fashion marketplace, where she again focused on helping sellers succeed.

Supporting real estate professionals is the same kind of work, but on a larger scale.

“Real estate agents are the largest class of entrepreneurs in our economy,” Lane said. “And also the most underserved. I get the chance to be at the helm of powering tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across the country.”

‘Dream big and go do it’

Those entrepreneurs range from agents who close billions in sales a year to those just starting out, and the majority are women. Some are single mothers, as Lane once was, and strong, like Lane’s mother.

“Both of my parents were my champions,” she said. “But my mom from a very early age instilled in me that I could do anything I could dream. To dream big and go do it.”

In kindergarten, she was taking English classes with the first graders and math with second graders. In seventh grade, a school bus came to Lane’s middle school to take her to the high school for trigonometry classes. It was sometimes awkward and isolating.

“But my mom said, ‘You can, so you should.'”

Empowering women, and acknowledging the ‘work to be done’

With this role, Lane feels like she’s come full circle.

“This industry is one of the most available ways for single mothers to stand on their own. It is a way for women to have a professional career that flexes to their lives.”

But it’s not always kind to women.

Lane is aware of the continuing turmoil at the National Association of Realtors, which has been in the spotlight since August when The New York Times published a damning indictment of then-president Kenny Parcell, who was accused of sexual harassment, and of the organization of a whole, which was described as having a “culture of fear.”

“There is a ton of work to be done,” she said of conditions for women in real estate. “Feeling safe in the workplace is the most basic of rights.”

“We need to have really clear policies, procedures and standards around how to ensure that everyone feels safe in the workplace. That is what was lacking at NAR.”

That said, Lane is positive about the “incredibly important” work she and her team are doing.

“In this role, and this industry, I have the ability to make a positive impact on tens of thousands of people,” she said.

By helping agents thrive, her leadership team is also “helping people with the biggest financial decisions of their lives, one of the most personal of their lives — and you can’t say that about many things.”