CEO Ryan Schneider sees Anywhere thriving in ‘good and challenging times’
Schneider, who has led the company since 2017, explains why he is bullish about the future despite turbulence in the economy.
- Anywhere is home to a half-dozen real estate brands with some of the most recognizable names in the industry, from Century 21 to Sotheby’s International Realty.
- Schneider said the current competitive environment favors Anywhere, which has been cutting costs and adding agents to adjust to market conditions.
- Anywhere is considering strategic investments to make the consumer’s real estate experience easier and more convenient.
Editor's note: The high-flying residential real estate industry came back to earth in 2022, with losses, layoffs and the quick cooling of an overheated market. We're having 1-1 conversations with the industry's most influential leaders to learn how they are handling this "reset moment."
The housing market downturn is yielding opportunities for real estate companies to gain the edge over competitors in an industry constrained by rising borrowing costs that are pushing sellers and buyers out of the market.
Ryan Schneider, director, CEO and president of Anywhere Real Estate, talked with Real Estate News about why he maintains a positive outlook about the company in the face of a shifting market.
"We are in a cyclical business, but we think our company is going to do well, in both the good and the challenging times," said Schneider who leads a global real estate company with some of the most recognizable brands in the industry — ERA, Century 21, Sotheby's International Realty, Corcoran, Coldwell Banker and Better Homes & Gardens.
"The competitive environment seems to be moving in our favor, as some of our competitors pulled back. And we have the ability to invest for the future," said Schneider, who has led the company since 2017.
In June, before the economic slowdown set in, Schneider steered the company through a rebranding. Realogy Holdings became Anywhere, to better reflect the company's mission to meet consumers "anywhere" in the experience of buying and selling homes. The Anywhere brand name also more aptly describes the ubiquitousness of a global company with 21,000 offices in more than 100 countries.
Banking on scale, reducing costs
Schneider said the size and scope of Anywhere has been an advantage during the downturn because market conditions vary by location — from region to region, even city to city. "Some markets are strong locally, some are weak. But since we're in all of them, we don't get too negatively affected by just one market being down, because we have that kind of presence," Schneider said.
Schneider is leaning into the stability of Anywhere to weather the current economic storm. Mortgage rates are at a 20-year high and loan applications are down, impacting all types of residential property sales, from condos and townhouses to single-family homes.
Anywhere decreased its workforce — in administration, facilities and processing — to adapt to the lower volume of sales this year. Anywhere is among several major real estate companies to lay off employees in 2022. Schneider announced during a Q3 earnings call in October the company has doubled cost-reduction targets, from $70 million to $140 million, and is on track to meet them this year. Cost-cutting measures are projected to continue through 2026.
Still, Schneider feels confident that Anywhere will emerge stronger when inflation normalizes and the economy recovers, noting that the company continues each quarter to increase agent numbers.
'Always becoming more efficient'
"Always becoming a more efficient company is the way I think we should be living in good and bad times. And what that means is when a more challenging market shows up, we will rightsize the company," Schneider said. "We typically do everything we can to support and protect our employees. But for some of our functions, if there's not the business coming in, we don't need as much staffing," he said.
Efficiency measures have paid off. Despite a drop in revenue, the company has remained profitable and reported a net income of $55 million for the third quarter of 2022 (down 52% from the same period in 2021). "For our company, we've seen the same slowdown in a lot of our numbers. But we have been excited by the fact that we continue to generate pretty substantial profitability," Schneider said.
Simplifying the consumer experience
"Even though this is a market downturn at the moment, it's the time to push ahead even faster," Schneider said. "And so one of the things I shared in a four- or five-year vision back in May was that we need to create that simpler consumer experience over time."
RealSure is part of that. A joint venture of Anywhere and Home Partners of America, RealSure invites homeowners to apply for a cash offer for their home and then test the market for 45 days to see if they can get a better deal. Schneider emphasized the company is not an iBuyer: "We only buy the houses that we can't sell in the traditional way. And we think that's better for the consumer, because they get the certainty their house will sell," Schneider said.
Making real estate transactions easier is a mantra for Schneider. "We're still staying focused on not just growing our core business, but trying to help consumers have a simpler transaction — and not just in real estate, but also with the title and the mortgage part of the process."
Anywhere is considering investments to make the real estate experience less complex and burdensome for consumers, such as the recent addition of the HomePlace app at Coldwell Banker. "We have the financial horsepower and the talent to still look at what the needs are to change for the future and push on those changes," Schneider said.
Anywhere also recruited and hired its first chief product officer, Tony Kueh, who will head product development, technology and innovation at Anywhere. Kueh's hiring in September demonstrates how Schneider applies singular solutions to managing six different real estate brands while allowing each to retain their individual identities.
"One of the journeys we've been on over the last four years is moving more from a holding company approach to operate more as a single company," he said. "And so it's been a really good experience to find the balance of 'Where do we want to make sure we preserve the brand's uniqueness?' and 'Where are there places where the brands benefit from each other?'
"Even though we've got to focus on cost efficiencies and prudent investments and competitive differentiation in this more challenging part of the housing market, we still have to go achieve those things," he said. "We want to be prepared when the market gets even stronger, to capture more of that business."