By Bill Hethcock — Senior Reporter, Dallas Business Journal
Monday, May 17, 2021
Robbie Briggs, the longtime CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, has passed the reins to Russ Anderson, the firm’s chief operating officer, who will now serve as president.
Briggs will retain the CEO title and continue to oversee mission, vision, values, property development, and strategic initiatives.
Anderson will head up strategy, business planning, sales, marketing, relocation services, finance, budgeting, technology and overall operations. Anderson joined Briggs Freeman in 2018, with more than 30 years of experience in finance, banking, and sales management.
Anderson, formerly the brokerage’s chief operating officer, joined the firm in 2018, with more than 30 years of experience and achievements in finance, banking and sales management.
The Dallas-based brokerage posted $2.45 billion in total residential sales volume in 2020 — a year of unprecedented challenges.
In the interview that follows, the Dallas Business Journal asks Anderson about his plans and goals with the company.
What price points does Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International specialize in? $1 million and up?
Yes, but our average price point is under $1 million, and in our Fort Worth market, it’s $450,000. We would consider it executive housing and up.
Is that the price range that Briggs Freeman is happy being in and plans to stay, or are you transitioning?
We believe that the Sotheby's brand is clearly recognized as a higher-end brand. We're a relatively high-service brokerage, and at some point it's hard for our value proposition to work at a $200,000 price point. Even though we do those, our expansion is not to cover the whole price point gamut. It's to stay in that higher-end market, and just continue to figure out better and better ways to serve those clients.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the high-end market right now?
It’s clearly inventory. We've just got so many people moving to the area. For economics reasons, for tax reasons, for political reasons, people are moving to this area, and it has just outstripped our available capacity to absorb it quickly.
We all sit around and try to figure out how long it lasts and will it last, and given that it's this influx, it's hard, because you would normally say that all markets find a new equilibrium point. But what we've got now is this artificial economics around this, trying to find this new equilibrium point around the people coming to Dallas-Fort Worth. We don't really know how long it lasts. I think clearly if interest rates jumped up, it would be tamped down and recede, just because there will be people who were voluntarily entering the market and may choose to stay where they are.
What’s the solution to the inventory shortage? More homebuilding is a piece, of course, but beyond that?
Internally, the way we're addressing it is to make sure people understand what their options are. There is kind of a backlash now of people being afraid — even if they wanted to put their house on the market — that if they sold their house, they couldn't find a house and have now concluded that they would rent and take their time, be in the market with cash, and just seeing what happens without having the instantaneous pressure of closing one day, and I need to close on my purchase within the next 30 days.
How is your role changing with this promotion?
To be honest, I don't really see my role changing all that much. For the most part I was running the day-to-day operations of the company. The internal aspects of the company will change very little.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for Briggs Freeman as a company?
It's making sure that you stay relevant. Competition is increasing. Dallas-Fort Worth has become hot. Every real estate company in the country is now moving to Dallas or eyeing Dallas. You've got new competitors entering the market every day. You have to continually reinvent yourself to ensure that you're providing the best value proposition for your agents and the clients in the marketplace that you can. That's a very proactive, strategic approach. You have to anticipate what's going to be relevant to give yourself enough time to develop it and roll it out to be in front of everyone.
You can't play follow the leader in these markets anymore. You have to beat the market. You have to see where you think efficiency and productivity and success is viewed further out on the horizon to be able to build it and deliver it, to be in front of what everyone else is doing. That's a really interesting challenge intellectually and difficult work to do from an execution standpoint. I think that's both the most fascinating part of what we're doing, and the most challenging part.
This interview is edited for brevity and clarity.
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