Sue Yannaccone, President and CEO, Anywhere Brands, on stage at the T3 Leadership Summit.
Sue Yannaccone, President and CEO, Anywhere Brands, on stage at the T3 Leadership Summit. (Photo: Stephanie Reid-Simons)

‘Standing still is not enough’ says Anywhere’s Sue Yannaccone 

You may not have every answer — and legal threats still loom — but you must keep moving forward with consumers in mind, the industry leader advised her peers.

May 5, 2024
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Anywhere may be massive, but Yannaccone noted that brokerage leaders are "all facing the same changes."
  • Settling early has helped the company use its resources to invest in people and tools to "get ahead of what we see coming in the industry."
  • Yannoccone said the industry should "lean in" to the changes, as ultimately they will be beneficial for consumers.

When a big-shot executive sits on a stage in front of a room full of other big-shot executives, it might seem like a moment for providing definitive declarations of corporate certainty.

But Sue Yannaccone, president and CEO of Anywhere Brands, offered something different last month at the T3 Leadership Summit. Something that is ultimately more bold.

You see, there's power in operating without all the answers — especially when faced with industry-shaking changes. Take it from the second-most powerful person at the largest company in residential real estate (and seventh-most powerful overall).

"Everyone I talk to wants every single answer to every little thing," Yannaccone said. "We're not going to get it now. … I'm like, we're figuring it out along with you, right?" And she keeps on talking — to leaders in the field, to agent mastermind groups, to affiliates. Gathering information. 

"You're not always going to make the best decision, but you're gonna make the best decision in that moment," she said. And you can pivot if you need to. "Standing still is not enough."

Yannaccone covered a wide range of topics, from the "aircraft carrier" scale of Anywhere to the benefits of being the first to settle in the commissions lawsuits to putting customers first (her comments have been edited for brevity and clarity):

Anywhere: Bigger, sure, but a lot like you and me

At the end of the day, we're all sitting here with a pretty level playing field right now. I have larger scale, but we're all facing the same changes, and we all have to think about how it impacts our business. My ability to deal with it may be unique, and the complexities of rolling changes out at mass scale may be unique, but fundamentally, the business is the same.

What it means to be first to reach a deal in the commissions lawsuits

As you know, we were the first to settle. And we've had a runway ahead of us on that. One, it allowed us to really begin to pivot our focus. Anybody involved in these [lawsuits] understands the management time, the leadership time, the human capital and resources that go into these things, right. So that was one benefit.

The other is it allows us to continue to use our capital in different ways and think differently about investing in our people, in our systems and our tools and just get ahead of what we see coming in the industry. And so we're beginning to lean in to our education, our training, our talk tracks — getting our people prepared, at least mentally, for what's coming.

Staying vigilant 

It's a very dynamic landscape in our industry right now. We all know there's tons of copycats out there, and there's of course the buyer suit that's still out there. There's a lot of dollar signs, and people are looking at an opportunity given where we are right now. So you know, it's fluid.

And the one thing that I'm confident in is the leadership that we've had. I've got some brilliant legal minds in the company, and we're going to continue to attack whatever comes at us with the kind of vigor and energy that we have thus far and really continue to look to incorporate that as we were able to, you know, cover our franchisees and their agents and all of our agents. Who knows what's coming down the pike. There's a lot out there.

Yes, there's a bright side — and it's where the consumers are

We help people find their home in good times and bad times. They're looking for trust in who they're working with. They're looking for transparency. They want to understand what they're getting for their dollars, their hard-earned dollars. And so I think that's going to continue to evolve in a good way, if we lean into it.

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