Power Brokers, One-on-One: Part 1

Editor’s Note: The Top 1,000 brokerage firms for the 2024 Power Broker Report ranked by sales volume and transactions are available to Premier members here. The Power Broker interviews interviews feature heads and leaders within some of the top brokerages of the list sharing their insights for success in real estate. Check back soon for part two!

Sue Yannaccone.RFG president and ceo e1713968533174

Sue Yannaccone

President & CEO

Anywhere Brands & Anywhere Advisors

What are the biggest challenges your affiliates are facing, and how are you helping them overcome those challenges?
We are still faced with the realities of a complex market and constrained inventory. Those issues are rooted in massive, intractable issues like inflation, interest rates and a shortage of new homes—factors that can be mitigated long-term by policy and macroeconomic shifts, but not by the day-to-day willpower of brokers and agents. So, we have been beating the drum on helping our franchisees control what they can control. Whether it’s working to protect them through our antitrust settlement or arming them with tools like Affiliate Insights—our platform that helps franchisees pinpoint specific areas of their companies that should be prioritized—we want our affiliates to be able to focus on building businesses that are primed to take off as the housing market continues to regain strength.

What is the greatest lesson you learned from 2023, and how is it shaping your approach to business this year?

My main takeaway from last year boils down to a single word: trust. There is clearly a lot of attention on real estate—whether it’s how agents work with consumers or how our industry is navigating market challenges—and the concept of trust has proven to be absolutely essential for the success of Anywhere and our brands.

We need to authentically and transparently build trust with consumers about the value we provide as they navigate the most complex transaction of their lives. Meanwhile, we need to build trust with entrepreneurs and agents that are looking for companies and brands that know how to lead through the complexities of our industry. That’s where Anywhere has its greatest competitive advantage, given our extensive experience navigating uncertainty with brands that are built on the very foundations of trust and ethical practice.


Gino Blefari 9967 Full Res scaled e1713968628404Gino Blefari

President & CEO

HomeServices of America


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

What are the biggest opportunities on the horizon, and how are you preparing your firm to capitalize on them?

One of the most significant opportunities on the horizon for our industry is the ability to embrace and leverage change, especially in the realms of technology and consumer expectations. The real estate sector has always been dynamic, and staying ahead requires a nimble and forward-thinking approach. Firstly, artificial intelligence (AI) is not just a buzzword; it’s a transformative tool. There’s a misconception that AI could be a threat to our industry, but in reality, it presents a remarkable opportunity. AI can streamline operations, enhance data analysis, personalize client interactions, and ultimately, increase efficiency. Recognizing this, our firm is actively investing in AI integration. We’re training our agents to work alongside AI tools, not only to improve their workflow but also to provide more insightful, data-driven advice to our clients.

How are you addressing negative media headlines about the industry, both with your agents and with clients?

The recent media scrutiny on our industry offers a dual opportunity: to re-emphasize the intrinsic value of our services and to reassure both our agents and clients about the commitment we uphold. Particularly over the past year, buyers have been at the forefront of this discussion. There’s a prevailing narrative that the role of a buyer’s agent is diminished due to the internet enabling easy access to home listings. This viewpoint neglects the significant advancements in consumer resources and technologies that agents now utilize to facilitate modern real estate transactions.

Research consistently shows that for buyers, the ability to find a home online is not their primary concern. What they truly value is the expert guidance, financial insight, negotiation skills and the ability to simplify and interpret the overwhelming amount of information available. It’s this comprehensive expertise that defines the true worth of a buyer’s agent.

Instead of dwelling on negative media headlines, our focus should be on reinforcing the vital commitment we have towards buyers, sellers and the communities we serve. This involves transparent communication, education on the evolving real estate landscape, and showcasing the tangible benefits that our agents bring to the table, beyond just finding a property online. By doing so, we not only counteract misinformation but also reinforce the trust and confidence our clients place in us.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in 2023?

The greatest lesson we learned in 2023 was the critical importance of being prepared for any eventuality, a principle that underscores the unpredictability of the business landscape. ‘Expect the unexpected’ became not just a mantra but a strategic approach. We learned that relying solely on hope is not a strategy; instead, the most successful companies are those with well-thought-out contingency plans. These plans account for market fluctuations, industry trends, and even unforeseen external challenges.

One key insight from last year was the realization that while we cannot always control external forces, we can control our response to them. To ensure our team is never caught off-guard, we focused on building robust, flexible strategies that enable us to pivot quickly and effectively in the face of new challenges.

Another crucial aspect of navigating 2023’s uncertainties was communication. We learned that in times of uncertainty, transparent, consistent and clear communication is invaluable. Keeping our team well-informed about the evolving situations, and our response strategies helped maintain focus and drive. This open communication policy ensured that everyone understood their roles and responsibilities, fostering a sense of unity and purpose even in turbulent times.


Kuba JewgieniewKuba Jewgieniew


Realty ONE Group

How are you supporting and preparing agents to increase productivity this year?

Realty ONE Group is intensely focused on business coaching—it’s one of our 6C values—and training our real estate professionals at every stage of their career and through every market. So, we have the programs already in place to help them achieve greater success faster this year and increase transactions. We’re also training more professionals within our own network to coach others through our CoachUP program and recently launched TeamUP to create more avenues for success for teams looking to do more in 2024.

What’s the greatest lesson you learned in 2023?

It’s a “Waking Up to Win” mindset that sets achievers apart from the rest and it helped us grow through a challenging real estate market last year. We have such an amazing global network of professionals that feed that mindset, and we learn so much from each other. We just returned from our annual Realty ONE Group ONE Summit International in Las Vegas and I’m so inspired by our real estate professionals who are so passionate about what they do every day. They’re sharing ideas and opportunities to help each other and are already seeing the return in increased referrals and transactions.


Rick HaaseRick Haase

President & CEO

United Real Estate

What are the biggest challenges for your network in the months ahead?

The greatest challenge, and also the greatest opportunity, is navigating the choppy real estate business while continuing our growth rate. Operationally, each of our brokerage units continuously evaluates whether their operating expenses return enough value for the money spent. This allows for the efficient allocation of human and capital resources and repositions them for the upcoming acceleration of the real estate market.

How are you counteracting the negative press the real estate industry has been getting?

We are utilizing our Bullseye learning management system to train, educate and develop our agents’ knowledge and skills in all things consumer. Today, more than ever, it’s important that brokers, owners and managers stay focused on achieving excellence in client services, including an accurate and timely understanding of the marketplace macro/micro nuances.

How are you preparing agents to increase productivity in the coming months?

We are providing our agents with multiple top-of-the-sales funnel tools and programs to drive their prospecting and sales conversion results. Our LeadBoost lead gen system is doing all of this while driving down exorbitant lead generation costs. We also provide all the tools necessary to help them stay in touch and provide expertise to their sphere of influence and past clients.


Harrington Michele scaled e1713968775349Michele Harrington


First Team Real Estate

What’s your approach to business in 2024?

I feel that 2024 has to be a year of growth and focus because we are ramping up for a better market in 2025, so the challenge is going to be growing wisely, putting our resources into what we know works, and not getting distracted by things outside of our control. If we stay focused and put the time in now we will capitalize on the changing market and run away with it. 

What are the biggest opportunities on the horizon, and how are you preparing your firm to capitalize on them?

Our biggest opportunities lie in teams. Teams are better at training, organization and accountability than we are at the brokerage level; we need to understand that, get over it and get on board. If you don’t embrace the “teamerage” model, growth is going to be a harder haul.  


Scott Durkin headshot 2022 1 scaled e1713968847549Scott Durkin

President and CEO

Douglas Elliman 

What’s your take on the current market?

Opportunities abound right now, as buyers come back to the market, motivated by the expectation of additional interest rate cuts, and more inventory coming online. The trick is for agents to get their clients to act now before prices begin to go up. We help agents do this at Douglas Elliman by providing up-to-the minute market data to help educate and motivate clients with facts.

What market trends will most impact business this year—for better or worse?

High interest rates and low inventory. We need a more attractive sales environment to bring buyers and sellers back into the market. I feel we will be steady to strong for the remainder of 2024 with a 2025 that exceeds all expectations.

How are you supporting and preparing agents to increase productivity this year?

As always at Douglas Elliman, we arm agents with best-in-class public relations, marketing, technology and training that help them work smarter in connection to every aspect of their businesses. The brilliance of Douglas Elliman is that behind every tool and every agent is a seasoned and trustworthy manager who has a well-earned understanding of real estate, from the pitch to the close.


Lennox ScottLennox Scott

Chairman and CEO

John L. Scott Real Estate

What will be the biggest change to your business this year over last?

The biggest blessing that this market has created over the last two years is that it helped move us to single focused “clarity.” Proactive—actual—personal connectivity with each client in our Agents – Relationship database.

80%+ of our business comes from the people that we know. Personal connectivity with them to get referrals is what will lead to success. There is unlimited business for those agents who do the simple relationship activities. At John L Scott, our Agents partner with their individual client as their personal representative to help them move forward in life.

What market trends will have a big impact on real estate this year?

Lower government spending and lower energy prices will lead to lower inflation, which will lead to lower home mortgage interest rates. With the shortage of homes for sale in the more affordable and mid-price ranges (where 80% of sales activity takes place), we have a program for buyers—Buyer Ready – Day One™—to create greater seller certainty, and we are helping sellers create multiple-offer situations.

What’s the greatest lesson you learned in 2023?

The market affirmed that a trusted relationship trumps everything—trumps technology, media, news…everything.

To view the 2024 Power Broker Report, click here

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