What happened

Shares of Realogy (HOUS 0.74%) -- a real estate services company that's best known for its brokerage brands like Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, and Sotheby's International Realty -- were under pressure Thursday after the company reported first-quarter earnings.

To put it mildly, the company's results were disappointing to investors. As of 11:40 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Realogy shares were down by roughly 20%. This comes on the heels of already-dismal performance in 2019, fueled by the company's fourth-quarter earnings miss.

Child and parents in front of a sold home.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Not only were Realogy's numbers bad, but they also actually worsened from the ugly fourth quarter. Revenue declined by 9% year over year, which was an accelerated rate of decline compared with the 6.2% annual drop in the fourth quarter.

Realogy lost $0.67 per share on an adjusted basis, far steeper than the $0.38 per share it lost in the first quarter of 2018.

Now what

The main culprit for the poor results was low home sale volume. Transaction volume decreased 9%, which wouldn't be too alarming if this same trend was seen throughout the industry. However, this is particularly concerning as the National Association of Realtors reports just a 4% decline in home sale volume in the first quarter of 2019 versus the first quarter of 2018.

Realogy blames a combination of geographic-specific weakness and higher competition in certain markets. Unless the company can show it's able to compete more effectively and increase its sales volume, I'm not expecting shares to rebound anytime soon.