Briggs Freeman Move Creates Succession Plan

Why would a Dallas real estate institution like Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International partner with a Canadian-based real estate group?

In a word, brokerage president Russ Anderson said, it was for succession.

“I think in Robbie’s mind, we needed a succession plan as an organization,” Anderson said of the thought process of Briggs Freeman CEO Robbie Briggs. “Robbie would say he’s got five children and none of them were in the business and really had an interest in taking over the company, so we knew this was a situation we had to resolve, and we’ve been having conversations about the best way to do it.”

The company announced earlier this month that Toronto-based Peerage Realty Partners had acquired a “substantial partnership interest” in the Dallas-based brokerage.

(Read: Briggs Freeman Announces Partnership With Peerage Realty Partners)

For the past 30 years, Briggs Freeman has been led by Briggs (his father founded the company), growing to six offices, 381 agents, and a projected $2.9 billion in 2021 real estate sales. It provides a luxury service experience to clients throughout six offices: Dallas, Fort Worth, Lakewood, Southlake, The North (based in Plano), and Ranch and Land.

Anderson said the partnership with Peerage was one that Briggs Freeman felt “really fortunate” to be part of. Briggs met them thanks to their already robust slate of partnerships with Sotheby’s International franchises in Canada.

“Their practice is to find other Sotheby’s affiliates that they feel like are well run in good markets and they are interested in creating a portfolio of those affiliates,” Anderson said. “It really just felt like a match made in heaven. They have deep pockets and a business that’s increasingly competitive, and they have a view of being the most part kind of a silent partner — they like to be behind the scenes.

“They want to keep all of the leadership and management in place, they want to keep as much as possible, everything, employees, our name isn’t changing, our signs aren’t changing, our relationship with our agents isn’t changing.”

And Dallas-Fort Worth was attractive for the company, with its extremely hot real estate market that survived even a recession.

“I think Robbie’s comments to me and others is that he has had conversations with the Peerage organization for up to five years, and it just wasn’t the right time then,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t the right time or the right place.”

But Peerage had identified Texas as a place to expand, and the DFW market especially, because “it has weathered all of these cycles,” Anderson said. “It has been a positive environment and that doesn’t seem to be changing at all.”

“Obviously, there’s a little bit of angst when your employee and you hear, ‘Oh, we’re giving a majority of the company to this new company,'” we asked Anderson. “Did it feel like everyone with Briggs Freeman felt fairly comfortable when they were informed?”

“That’s a fair question — and anybody who’s been through these types of transactions that they always say that everything’s gonna be perfect and nothing’s gonna change,” he said. “The thing that we had on our side, in this case, is we’ve got the benefit of some of the history of the transactions that they’ve done, and in each one of those cases, that’s exactly what they’ve done, they have left everything alone, they’ve left the leadership alone, they haven’t take any actions on employees, they haven’t changed the relationship with the agents, and so we look at effectively five years of history with different affiliates through Canada, Chicago, New Hampshire, we’ve got this history that we can go to and we can compare their words to their actions, and they’re all the same.”

Anderson said that they’ve also taken the time to talk to their customers, too, to reassure them.

“People are, I think, kind of breathing a sigh of relief, because it really, it’s an upside — it just creates stability,” he said. “When you have deep pockets, you’re just a more stable organization than when you’re an entrepreneur working your way through.”

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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