If there is one thing in this world that remains certain, it’s the fact that legends are busy and difficult to catch up with. Fortunately, even in a worldwide pandemic and cataclysm, many times we find even the most famous and influential leaders are a lot more accessible than we think. Sherry Chris, the President, and CEO, Realogy Expansion Brands, is one of those people.
Cherry Chris, CEO of Expansion Brands Portfolio at Realogy Holdings Corporation
Sherry has been featured everywhere that matters from the New York Times to the advisory boards of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are very few people in the business who do not know and look up to her. She’s a leader first and foremost, but also a game-changer, and one of the top real estate experts in the world. We were looking for an expert who could speak authoritatively about 21st-century marketing, how buyers and sellers are consuming real estate information and data and help agents at every level to market more effectively. Well, we got the best. Here’s our brief Q & A.
RealtyBizNews: Can you describe what the Realogy Expansion Brands are and how ERA Real Estate and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate differentiate themselves?
Sherry Chris: Realogy’s seven unique brands vary in geographic footprint, and certain brands have opportunities for accelerated growth into underdeveloped markets. The Realogy Expansion Brands portfolio will build off the success of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and apply its proven practices for growth, including effective agent recruiting, unique business models, and lifestyle marketing, across the newly created business segment.
Like BHGRE, ERA Real Estate offers a unique value proposition for agents and franchisees, such as a flexible business model and brand positioning, but shares common principles, including a service-driven culture, cutting edge marketing, and a high-growth attitude.
RealtyBizNews: The history of the two brands couldn’t be more different. BHGRE was founded at the zenith of what became known as Web 2.0. What key hurdles did you have to overcome initially? And ERA is a legacy brand soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary as one of the industry’;s pioneers. How have you capitalized on that legacy?
Sherry Chris: I love this question because it points to the importance of having a platform and a culture that defines a brand. While I lead both brands and both are in the same industry, they are very different in their approach. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate resonates with consumers 365 days a year. The BHGRE brand is backed by arguably the most powerful lifestyle brand name – Better Homes and Gardens – offering our affiliated brokers and agents with propriety tools and resources. Additionally, our design, lifestyle and entertainment content distinguishes BHGRE as the only real estate brand that is an integral part of people’s lives every day, year after year.
ERA will be celebrating our 50th anniversary next year. ERA has always been a company of firsts, and we continue to provide our affiliated agents and brokers with forward-thinking business solutions to help them stand out from the competition and anticipate the changing needs of their customers. One of the true differentiators of the ERA brand is the network’s strong sense of community, focused on collaboration and giving back – especially at the local level. This collaborative culture helps ERA-affiliated brokers and agents benefit from new ideas, growth opportunities, and support to help each other thrive in their local market.
RealtyBizNews: Was there a strategy that put Better Homes and Gardens ahead of the curve? How have you kept ERA relevant?
Sherry Chris: The ERA brand has an incredible history. Founded in 1972, every new franchisee received a fax machine to connect brokers across the country, creating the foundation for the brand’s incredibly collaborative network. ERA was the first real estate franchise to expand internationally when it entered Japan in 1981. Ever the innovator, ERA was the first real estate franchise to post listings online in 1994. We also understand that real estate is local, and that’s why our “Powered By” ERA concept is resonating. This flexible branding options gives franchisees a choice to market their business in the way that works best for them – whether that’s benefitting from ERA’s established brand awareness, or by choosing to keep their current brand front and center. We want to take advantage of local expertise and connectivity while empowering the brokerage and agents with resources they did not have before.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is THE lifestyle brand in real estate. We understand that our homes are more than a structure. They define us as people. This past year with the pandemic showed this even more. Our partnership with Meredith Corporation and Better Homes and Gardens is a major differentiator. BHGRE has grown so much because of our intense focus on lifestyle and by providing our affiliates with proprietary tools and resources to help them build their business. In fact, the BHGRE brand was recognized by Entrepreneur magazine in 2020 as one of the fastest growing franchises.
RealtyBizNews: What piece of advice can you offer for the new real estate professional?
Sherry Chris: Focus on relationships. New agents need to engage with their sphere of influence right off the bat. The hundreds of people you have met along the way are your potential clients. They have to know you have entered real estate and can help them. But they also become referral sources for you as they tell those they meet about your new business. This has to be constant. Too many new agents attract early business and don’t take the time to make sure they have a continuous pipeline. Know what you are good at and what you aren’t. Real estate agents are one-person C-suites. They are their own CEO, CMO, CIO. If you spend the time to learn and engage with your company and brand resources, you are setting yourself up for a fulfilling career.