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Sherry Chris began her professional career as a young woman working in the banking industry. But when she went to buy her first home, she caught the real estate bug.
“When I went through the process I thought to myself, ‘this is very interesting. I could do it well,'” Chris told Inman this week. “So I got my real estate license and left my job and started selling real estate.”
“It just felt like a really good time for me,” Chris explained.
Though Chris is stepping down from her chief executive role — which involved overseeing both ERA Real Estate and Better Homes and Gardens — she will continue on with Anywhere as an executive advisor. Chris told Inman the new role will involve working with and for Anywhere Brands President Sue Yannaccone, mentoring and coaching new leaders, and working on a variety of other projects focusing on topics such as diversity.
Chris described her decision to retire as a difficult one, citing her deep relationships with her team and the broker-owners at her brands. But she also felt like she could step away once leaders such as Yannaccone and Liz Gehringer, president and CEO of Anywhere Franchise Brands, were in place.
“It’s an emotional decision for sure but you know when the time is right and it feels like it is absolutely the right time for this,” Chris added.
Chris’ first plunged into real estate in 1982. She landed at Royal LePage, where she worked for more than a decade and a half. Her first two years were spent selling houses, but she thereafter moved into brokerage management, and has continued in management roles ever since.
After Royal LePage, Chris joined Anywhere — then known as Realogy — as the chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker in 2006. A year later, she took over as president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens. She became president and CEO of Anywhere Expansion Brands, taking over ERA at the same time, in 2019.
In a statement on Chris’ retirement, Anywhere said that her tenure leading Better Homes and Gardens saw the firm grow “significantly across more than 40 U.S. states and six countries,” as well as evolve into a unique lifestyle brand.
“ERA saw similar growth with Chris at the helm, as the network footprint has expanded to 43 U.S. states and 34 countries,” the statement added.
Over the years, Chris became a well-known leader in the industry, frequently appearing at events — including recurring turns moderating Inman Connect panels — and was repeatedly recognized as one of the most influential people in real estate. She also had many colorful adventures, including the time — recounted Thursday, in a new column by Brad Inman — when she and Inman struck up a conversation with rapper Timbaland, who concluded at one point that “she has style.”
Chris’ colleagues tend to agree with Timbaland. In a statement this week, Yannaccone said the impact Chris “has made on our company, our brands, and our affiliated brokers and agents is nothing less than remarkable.”
“Her fearless and poised approach to creating brands is showcased by the success and growth of both Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and ERA Real Estate,” Yannaccone added. “Sherry remains one of the most influential and impactful leaders in the real estate industry, which is why we are thrilled she will continue to share her talents with our company in her new role. We graciously thank and congratulate Sherry for her successful work as a brand leader.”
Aside from mentoring and advising, Chris told Inman her next chapter will include some travel, as well as working with the charity New Story, which builds homes in developing countries. She will also continue to serve on the board of WineSociety, which aims to reimagine the wine-drinking experience. And Chris will remain a fixture at industry events.
“I am going to continue to be very busy,” she concluded.
Chris’ decades in real estate have, of course, coincided with a period of massive change and disruption. Asked about the biggest shift she witnessed, Chris mentioned the evolving “sophistication of technology when it comes to our business.” But she also added that people, not machines or automation, remain at the center of real estate — and she expects that to be the case in the future as well.
It’s that personal element that has brought Chris the greatest joy as a real estate professional.
“I believe in the strength and power of helping consumers and families of moving onto the next stage of their life through real estate and homeownership,” she said. “That brings me joy to be able to work with agents who are so proud to do that.”
Now, as she looks to her next chapter, Chris said she’s also excited to give back.
“It has been a wonderful career,” Chris added, “and I’m grateful and really humbled by all of the people I’ve interacted with.”