Changes at one of the leading and oldest real estate brokerages in North Texas don’t happen every day, maybe not every year.
So it was big news in April when Robbie Briggs, the CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, announced the promotion of Russ Anderson to president of the firm, a position formerly held by Briggs.
Anderson, formerly the brokerage’s Chief Operating Officer, will lead the company in strategy, business planning, budgeting and its day-to-day operations, including sales, marketing, relocation services, finance, technology and operations.
Anderson joined the brokerage in 2018, with more than 30 years of experience and achievements in finance, banking and sales management.
Briggs will lead the brokerage in mission, vision, values, property developments and strategic initiatives.
Briggs, the brand ambassador for the brokerage and a sought-after thought leader in real estate and business, joined the firm – founded by his father in 1960 – in 1979, became its CEO in 1983 and, in 2010, aligned with Sotheby’s International Realty to create Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty.
Today, the brokerage has more than 400 agents and has achieved multiple consecutive years of multibillion-dollar total sales volume. It is also one of the top 20 Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates in the U.S. for the $150 billion global network
The announcements come at an exciting time for the brokerage, which realized an exceptional $2.45 billion in total residential sales volume in 2020 – a year of unprecedented challenges and, as Anderson points out, opportunities.
Anderson’s background doesn’t include real estate and his life and career has taken him around the country.
“I’m a career banker and have now lived all over the place,” he said, detailing his childhood and career that took him from Kentucky to Charlotte, to D.C., to Minneapolis, to Los Angeles and now Dallas.
Anderson found his way to Dallas as president and CEO of Guardian Mortgage. When that was sold, Anderson “retired,” and met Briggs.
“We just hit it off,” Anderson said.
Meeting often at the Original Pancake House, the two eventually decided it made sense for him to join the firm in April of 2018.
“There were some new entrances into the marketplace that have put pressure on the marketplace,” Anderson said. “Briggs was looking for kind of the next generation of leadership, the leadership team of the company. And I came from big banks and from working with private equity companies and we felt like that that kind of put us in a good space.”
It also gave man behind the brand – Robbie Briggs – the ability to focus on being a brand ambassador for the company.
“Freeing him up for that role made a lot of sense,” Anderson said. “So for me to focus on day to day operations for the company and for him to be able to focus on being a brand ambassador in the marketplace is really the highest and best use of both of our skills.”
Briggs Freeman employs world-class digital technology, agent tools and marketing strategies to optimize every experience for its clients and agents – including discovery, immersive virtual tours, transaction management with more on the way, Anderson notes.
“The tactics that are on our drawing board are all about how do we create efficiencies through technology and how do we leverage all of the marketing opportunities that are available more and more digital, more and more social media understanding how to leverage those areas and make sure that our agents know how to take advantage of those opportunities,” Anderson said. “And our brand knows how to take advantage of those opportunities and really get your name out. Marketing is about being in the forefront of people’s mind when they happen to be thinking about the topic. We’re good at that.”
Anderson takes his new role in one of the most overheated residential real estate markets in years.
“The lack of inventory (in the DFW market) is a significant issue because people are buying and there multiple offers on properties. People are buying properties without ever looking at them, without ever seeing them in person,” Anderson said.
“So you have to be able to communicate effectively. Virtual tours and virtual presentations and letting people get the feeling of a property without walking through the front door physically is significant change over the past year.
“I mean, if you thought about in 2019, who would buy a house sight unseen? You would call those people crazy. And now it happens all the time. And some of them have been gigantic numbers, we’ve talked about people buying million, multimillion dollar property, sight unseen,” he said.
Anderson said you don’t want the overheated market to cause people to make decisions they might not feel so good about later.
“You don’t want anybody to regret the biggest financial decision they make in their lives for their family. You want people to make good thoughtful decisions and the more overheated some of these markets become, you want to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” he said. “Our agents are continually working to make sure that the people feel good about, long-term, what they’ve done.”
Along with the hot residential real estate market, there have been changes to what potential buyers want from their homes stemming from the pandemic and changes in how we work.
“His and hers office is a common new request,” said Anderson. “They have two offices because both of them feel like even if they’re not working at home, full-time, they’re working, both of them are working at home often enough that they need their own space. We clearly are hearing changes in the layouts of houses as a result of what’s happened.”
Anderson said he doesn’t see a great deal of difference – save one – between the Dallas and Fort Worth markets.
“I don’t see a ton of difference. Our Fort Worth agents are so busy and they have the same types of experiences: multiple offers and lots of people coming into town. There’s a little bit of price point difference between the two, but that has translated into we’re seeing significant investment opportunities in Fort Worth. And we’re hearing more and more people targeting Fort Worth for investment in real estate,” he said.
There is also some news in Fort Worth for Briggs Freeman. The brokerage has a new office at 4828 Camp Bowie Boulevard. If that address is familiar, it was once the home of Kay’s Hallmark. And, should you venture in, you may see a familiar face. Kay Orth, co-owner of Kay’s Hallmark, is a Briggs Freeman agent.