At Connect, Anywhere Expansion Brands CEO Sherry Chris, a 35-year real estate vet, shared how strategic growth, better value propositions and positive thinking gives brokers the upper hand.

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If hindsight is 20/20, then Anywhere Expansion Brands CEO Sherry Chris has perfect vision.

During her latest Inman Connect appearance, Chris recounted the challenges she has faced during her 35 years as an executive at some of the top real estate brands in the U.S. and Canada and how they’ve shaped her view of the current market.

“I started in this industry in the early 1980s, when, you know, some of the audience members weren’t even born or were very young,” she said while comfortably seated in her trademark sweater and glasses. “I’m gonna say I’ve had the great opportunity to go through several cycles. There always is a cycle.”

“But I was told an interesting statistic the other day, where I think it’s like 70 percent of agents today have never been through a cycle,” she added. “And so you’re in luck, an industry veteran is going to talk about what it was like back in the old days.”

As agents and consumers still navigate the sticker shock associated with inflation and rising interest rates, Chris reminded viewers about the average rates in the ’80s and ’90s, which climbed near 20 percent — a far cry from the current 30-year fixed rate of 7.65 percent.

“It was a very challenging time,” she said.

Chris said those times taught her the value of an air-tight strategy that prioritizes longevity over fast growth.

“I like to use a horse racing analogy because I used to own racehorses, actually a little-known fact,” she said. “So picture this — when horses come out of the gate, they all have the same advantage.”

“They’re running down the straightaway and then suddenly, they get into the curve,” she added. “So it’s the horse and driver that have the best strategy going through that curve and on into the next straightaway that will end up winning the race.”

For Chris, the best strategy hinges on having a positive mindset, an improved value proposition and sustainable growth.

“It’s always a good time to grow strategically,” she said while explaining today’s broker-owners should focus on cutting expenses, recruiting an array of agents and staff with diverse skill sets and scaling carefully with “culturally-aligned” merger and acquisition deals.

“There are going to be a lot of growth opportunities right now, because one of the things that will happen in a market like this is that brokerages [who said] to themselves, ‘Maybe we’ll hang on for the next few years and ride the good times,’ may want to sell now,” Chris explained. “So if you’re a broker, look for culturally aligned M&A opportunities. If you’re a team, look for culturally-aligned team members.”

“If you’re an individual agent, look to maybe start a team with a group of people that are like-minded,” she added. “We should always be looking at strategic growth, but it should never, ever be growth at any cost. That’s the wrong type of growth.”

Looking forward, Chris said there’s no telling exactly how long this cycle will last. However, she said doubling down on business basics and focusing on end consumers are the keys to riding out any upcoming turbulence.

“Our role will continue to evolve as agents and broker-owners and brand managers. We have to create deeper relationships with the end consumer and so my parting words are around that,” Chris said. “How do you do that? How do you really care about providing exceptional customer service to that end consumer?”

“That’s going to become increasingly important, so practice that in your short-term and long-term planning.”

Email Marian McPherson

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