Anyplace has Employed Their First Ever Chief Product Officer, and He Has Massive Plans for the Firm’s Future

In October of 2003, I used to be formally launched to the actual property trade.  I began my first post-college job at Realogy (it was named Cendant on the time, and has just lately been rebranded as Anywhere).  My first place on the firm was as a gross sales coordinator for his or her actual property franchise group the place I offered administrative assist to the groups promoting Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA franchises.  Over the six years that I labored for the corporate my job titles and obligations elevated to incorporate Supervisor of Know-how, Director of Enterprise Improvement, Assistant Vice President of Franchise Gross sales, and Vice President of Franchise Gross sales and Acquisitions.  Your entire expertise was wonderful and the varied roles gave me a singular perspective which has been extraordinarily invaluable to me all through my profession.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Anyplace for taking an opportunity on me. 

Over time, the corporate continues to evolve and develop.  Anyplace  has added manufacturers that embody Sotheby’s Worldwide Realty and Higher Houses and Gardens Actual Property, they usually just lately began to franchise the Corcoran model which they have owned since 2001.  Moreover, they partnered with Home Partners of America to launch their iBuyer enterprise named RealSure, they usually have made a sequence of additives to their management workforce.  Their newest govt rent is Tony Kueh who grew to become the primary Chief Product Officer within the firm’s historical past.  Tony has been tasked with main the Anyplace product technique, innovation roadmap, and expertise investments.  He has had an extended historical past of success with prior management roles at corporations that embody Microsoft, VMware, Qualcomm and SAP.  Tony joins Anyplace at an thrilling however difficult time for the actual property trade. 

2021 was a record year for a lot of corporations within the residential actual property trade, however that momentum didn’t carry into 2022.  Rising rates of interest, coupled with different macro components has created one of the crucial difficult markets we now have seen in many years.  Many actual property corporations are reporting horrendous quarterly results, and inventory costs for a lot of of those corporations are close to all-time lows.  Stock stays extraordinarily low, costs are dropping, and houses are sitting available on the market far longer than they did final 12 months.  Moreover, because of the huge innovation that passed off through the pandemic, and years of low-cost financing, billions of {dollars} flowed into the actual property expertise ecosystem.  This created a slew of recent opponents (with new fashions) centered on taking share from the trade titans like Anyplace.  And although many of those new corporations are combating the altering market dynamics, the addition of recent opponents continues to ratchet up the strain on the present market leaders. 

Actual property is a individuals enterprise, and the success of an organization is straight associated to the standard of customer support they ship.  Know-how won’t ever exchange actual property brokers, nevertheless it has grow to be the central focus of brokerages and a vital part of differentiation for corporations on this hyper-competitive trade.  For instance, an Anyplace competitor, Compass, raised $1.5B to fund their progress with a big chunk of these funds reportedly getting used to construct their end-to-end platform.   Know-how performs an enormous function in how brokers prospect and talk with purchasers, the way in which by which properties are marketed, and the whole lifecycle of offers together with sourcing, open homes, contract era/signatures, mortgage, title, and nearly each a part of the method.  The brokerage trade operates on razor skinny margins, and the efficiencies that may be achieved with expertise could make a huge effect on the monetary well being and sustainability of an organization.  

I used to be very lucky to have the chance to sit down down with Tony Kueh and ask him about his plans for this new function at Anyplace.  His in depth background in overseeing Product for main tech corporations can be extraordinarily invaluable to Anyplace, however I additionally imagine that the truth that he doesn’t come from the actual property trade is a big plus.  The huge adjustments within the trade require recent considering, and his technique received’t be encumbered by approaching these challenges with outdated methods of considering. 

Beneath is our conversion

In most industries, we now have seen an incredible quantity of productiveness positive factors with expertise. Surprisingly, these positive factors do not appear to have fully translated into the actual property trade. I am certain it is helped a bit bit by way of agent productiveness and the period of time an agent spends engaged on a transaction, nevertheless it hasn’t been transformative.  Others have tried leveraging completely different fashions, however on the finish of the day, they find yourself trying very very similar to a conventional actual property firm.  This lack of transformation has been the most important shock for me once I entered the actual property trade, however additionally it is very thrilling as a result of it gives an unlimited alternative for us. 

The highest precedence is to formulate a method on the place we wish to place our bets. At Anyplace, we’re lucky to have the ability to strategically spend money on our expertise, even in a difficult market. It is necessary for us to find out how we spend money on an environment friendly technique to prioritize after which construct for the long run. Will we place our bets in both construct or purchase? Or which of them can we proceed to companion on, and who can we choose as our strategic companions that we’ll go huge with?  So within the close to time period, it is actually across the alignment of all that. 

One analogy that I gave associated to our a number of model technique is the iPhone. The identical iPhone and iOS that’s utilized by a highschool child is identical system and working system that’s utilized by a billionaire. So why does a billionaire want a unique iPhone? They do not. They use the identical iPhone. They use the identical iMessage app. They use the identical Safari browser, they usually use the identical cellphone dialer. There’s quite a lot of intrinsically fundamental workflows which are concerned in actual property that do not actually need differentiation. Now, we additionally imagine that completely different manufacturers have their very own distinctive model promise to the patron, and we wish to proceed to meet these model guarantees. For instance, digital options and Spanish language translations ought to be commonplace throughout all manufacturers. Nevertheless, for a extra custom-made expertise, it would not make sense for us to start out doing VR/AR excursions with all of the manufacturers proper now because it’s most likely extra fitted to a luxurious expertise.  You’ll probably see us first deploy these options with our manufacturers that focus primarily within the luxurious market, however over time because the expertise turns into extra pervasive and customary, we are going to begin to embed these options into everybody’s expertise. 

We have already got a significant funding in information, however we wish to proceed to speed up it.  At the beginning, we do promise and have to reiterate that the information our affiliated agent community gives us is their information.  We act as a custodian of this information and we deal with it as such. Subsequently, there are limits to what we are able to and can’t do.  The options that we now have in our roadmap will definitely encourage the brokers to share their information with us in order that we may give them a direct profit.  By aggregating information, we are able to present brokers with further perception and higher analytics to assist them proceed to be extra profitable. 

For example, we are going to start utilizing clever analytics and machine studying information mining to drive important worth for our franchisees and agent community. In mixture, I feel we now have an incredible quantity of alternative with information, and that is most likely considered one of our greatest upsides.   

Within the tech world, there’s at all times a choice to construct.  Then, for those who’re behind on constructing a specific answer, you sometimes purchase.  Partnering is extra round an ongoing technique for whenever you want a selected functionality, so that you usually don’t see many giant strategic companions in tech corporations.  In our world, I feel we have to be extra surgical.  Whereas our expertise funding is a wholesome proportion of income, we’re nonetheless a fraction of what a typical tech firm has. For instance, corporations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, spend 15% to twenty% of their income constructing and buying tech. And so they have an enormous income footprint to allow them to be way more aggressive with their spending.  At Anyplace, we should be much more surgical about precisely what we purchase and construct versus partnering relating to the issues which are essentially core to our enterprise. Going ahead, we’ll make it very clear to our companion ecosystem what our plans are by way of purchase versus construct, in order that we are able to even have a reasonably wholesome relationship with our companions. The worst factor you are able to do is to companion with any individual simply to be taught in regards to the house with out ever disclosing the intent. I feel that simply makes for a nasty partnership. So we have been fairly clear with our companions by way of our intent, and what our long run plans are. 

I’d say that we actually have one buyer, and two units of companions.  There is just one particular person that may set off the movement of cash, and that’s the shopper.  If the patron would not purchase or the patron would not promote, there isn’t a cash to be made for the agent, or the franchisees, or us. The franchisees (purchasers on a unique scale, after all) and their brokers are in the end our strategic companions.  They ship the worth proposition utilizing the model, the instruments, the providers, and the schooling wanted for a profitable transaction.  From this angle, it will be significant that we guarantee that our incentives are aligned to make sure that the patron will get precisely what they’re on the lookout for.  As a vendor, the aim of the franchisee, the agent, and Anyplace is to maximise the worth of their house, to stick to the timeframe that they want to promote, and provides them the very best recommendation on tips on how to deal with maybe one of many highest invaluable belongings they are going to promote throughout their lifetime.  For a purchaser, the aim of Anyplace, the franchisee, and the agent is to guarantee that they’ve full entry to all obtainable stock of their worth vary and geography, that they get the very best phrases potential, and that they’re educated on all of the ancillary providers they should consummate the transaction similar to mortgage, insurance coverage, authorized providers, and title. 

We additionally have to successfully make investments by way of actual property transactions to guarantee that we, by way of our franchisees and their brokers, ship the very best worth and the strongest worth proposition to shoppers.  As soon as incentives have been aligned, that is an important focus of ours, and it is actually about understanding the sorts of expertise and assist that our franchisees and their brokers have to run an efficient enterprise.  We constantly ask ourselves what our brokers want to ensure they get the very best engagement with a shopper.  These are issues that we now have historically completed pretty nicely, and we are going to proceed to ship worth to our brokers in order that they’re armed with the very best options obtainable available on the market.

Everybody’s seeking to construct an end-to-end platform as a result of it is so core to the enterprise. The problem is, simply as you talked about in your query, that the trade is extraordinarily fragmented and that makes the aim of constructing a platform like this extremely difficult.  If an unbiased startup was to go and attempt to construct it, they’d actually spend their existence making an attempt to unravel that downside they usually most likely wouldn’t get very far.  Organizing all of the disparate information sources is simply the baseline, after which the startup would want to construct worth on prime of it.  I do imagine that constructing an end-to-end platform is achievable, however it might probably solely be achieved with scale.  I do not suppose that you will see a startup with $5 million of seed cash get very far on account of all of the complexities. I’ve been trying exhausting on the query of whether or not or not we should always construct an end-to-end platform, and I feel that everybody wants to take a look at it from a perspective of, “is that this the factor that they wish to personal, or is there a companion on the market that may ship this for us?” And if there’s a companion, do they align with the long run, strategic path of the corporate. I haven’t got a conclusion proper now, however my inclination is much like many different individuals within the trade in that I feel that we should always go construct this.  Nevertheless, since it’s a very significant capital funding, if we come throughout another technique to reaching the aim, we would definitely be open to exploring it. 

Should you take a look at the actual property trade as we speak, youthful millennials and Gen Z’ers signify the very best pent-up demand of first-time homebuyers.  COVID has gotten them to concentrate on the significance of house.  These are the 20 somethings that used to exit each night time and their house was only a place to sleep. That’s now not the case.  Most of them have not purchased a house as a result of they’re ready for the costs to proceed to right and are available down.  To me, essentially the most thrilling factor in regards to the trade is that I anticipate that we’ll come out of this harder surroundings with some very significant tailwinds pushed by first-time homebuyers. 

I need to admit that I used to be extraordinarily impressed with Tony.  For somebody who has been within the trade for under a matter of weeks, he has a powerful basic understanding of the challenges, alternatives, and complexities of the actual property trade.  On the finish of our dialog, Tony requested if we might reconvene for a dialog in 3 to 4 months, after he has had extra time to settle into the function, as he realized that his view on many of those matters could change as he spends extra time within the weeds.  You’ll be able to assure that I’m going to take him up on his supply.  I’ll at all times have a comfortable spot for Anyplace for taking an opportunity on me proper out of faculty, and I can actually say that I’m assured within the firm’s future figuring out that Tony can be main product technique and innovation for the agency. 


I’m very exited to be collaborating within the Commercial Observer’s Future Ahead occasion in Los Angeles on December sixth.

I can be on the panel titled: Trying on the Lengthy Recreation: Prime Tech Future-Proofing Actual Property Portfolios – together with Kevin Danehy (Vice Chairman: Willow) and Adrian Foley (President and CEO: Brookfield Properties Development). In case you are desirous about attending, please discover the entire data at this link.

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