By Sohini Bhattacharya

In late 2008, when the housing market crashed in the U.S., Glenn Sanford, founder, chairman and CEO of eXp World Holdings, decided it was time for a paradigmatic shift in the real estate industry. With years of success since 2002 in the online real estate space, Sanford says he recognized the “perfect storm” to be his opportunity to rewrite the brokerage business model. In founding eXp Realty in 2009 he asked his team to not come into the office the next day, and moved to a borderless cloud office where agents, brokers and staff could learn, network and transact business daily in a collaborative, cost-effective and productive way.

Under the banner of its publicly traded holding company, eXp World Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: EXPI), eXp Realty is a 3D virtual space that provides agents with 24/7 tech support and access to training, marketing and lead generation tools and networking. The company believes it makes affiliating to brick and mortar brokerages unnecessary.



Because of eXp Realty’s low overheads and an aggressive revenue-sharing and equity ownership model that “pays agents a percentage of gross commission income earned by fellow real estate professionals who they attract into the company”, according to their website, its growth trajectory rocketed to 2,000 agents by fall 2016.

In 2014 the company was introduced in Canada by Calgary’s Urban Realty Group. This year it expanded to Ontario.

John Lusink
John Lusink

Toronto-based broker of record John Lusink, who has more than 27 years of real estate experience with major brokerages, has been appointed regional vice president of eXp Realty’s Canada Brokerage Operations.

“In the traditional model of brokerages, there are 200 to 300 agents at least under each of the big brand names. The quality tends to suffer and Realtors get lost,” says Lusink. “They’re charged heavy franchise fees. But this is not the case at eXp Realty. There is a real sense of community when you attend agent-facilitated meetings in their virtual auditorium space.”

Lusink joined eXp Realty in May 2017. Although he started with no agents, currently 15 Ontario agents have signed up, and six are in the process of on-boarding. These include sales reps from Toronto, London and Ottawa. Calgary boasts 30 eXp Realty agents and Edmonton has three.

Signing in to this virtual world, called eXpWorld, feels much like walking into a university campus, only online. In a video game environment, agents can customize their avatars from the colour of the hair to their shoes. The 3D immersive experience, however, functions as a real estate ecosystem that includes brokers, corporate staff, high-performing agents who lead coaching and training sessions, interactions with top-selling teams across provincial and state lines, and all the documentation needed to maintain compliance and regulation.

The cloud brokerage comes complete with an “open air” welcome area where agents walk in and ask for help. They can choose between multiple training and meeting rooms to sit in, tech support and computer labs, a productivity centre, a transaction room, a human resource centre, peer-peer groups, mentoring sessions and even a soccer field. With the press of a spacebar, agents can look around the space to get introduced to others present in the room, or even do a celebratory cartwheel for an earned commission or accolade.

The software is equipped with a place where seasoned avatars offer their assistance. A microphone-enabled chat box allows participants to message each other and an interactive campus map facilitates navigation within the ecosystem.

Lusink says that with the spread of AI systems across all industry sectors, menial jobs will be the first to be compromised. Critical skills that will sharpen the human edge in real estate are that of leadership, training, negotiating, relationship-building and strategy, he says. eXp Realty’s focussed online community is one where “agents don’t have to worry about the noise element of working in brokerages, or filling out administrative paper work. They can access a comprehensive schedule of meetings or training modules listed on the eXp World website, and based on their need, find and go to rooms that will be the most-effective use of their time,” he says.

The company claims to support agents at all levels of business from entry level to veterans in the field and independent brokers to teams. It provides them with branding, marketing and advertising tools necessary for lead generation. Agents have full access to Google Suite for Business and can choose between lead generation platforms Kunversion or CINC internet marketing. They can integrate and customize their WordPress websites and MLS systems, enable video-hosting and run AdWords campaigns.

The operational costs for agents to sign up include a $113 start-up fee, $99/month tech fee, $479/year eXp University tuition and $29 broker review fee (GST applies to all costs). Every year the company hosts an annual convention at a physical location, where agents are recognized and celebrated for their achievements and get the chance to meet the faces behind the online avatars.

Jason Gesing
Jason Gesing

Jason Gesing, the Boston-based CEO of eXp Realty, says the ideal profile of an eXp Realty agent is that of an entrepreneur who isn’t reliant on the brand of the brokerage for their success. “Our agents are willing to experiment with leading technology and have the mindset of a being a shareholder in a company. They have the requisite leadership, talent and expertise needed to drive their own success,” says Gesing.

“Prior to joining eXp Realty in 2010, I owned an independent brokerage and did a lot of transactional work on the commercial side of real estate,” he says. “What that meant was that each day, I was driving to downtown Boston from my home, which on weekdays takes over an hour one way. My kids were very young at the time and there were many days when I wouldn’t see them because they were asleep by the time I got home. At the same time, fewer people were coming into the office every day.”

Looking back, Gesing found the decision to sign up with eXp Realty a no-brainer in lieu of the rising operational costs and expenses associated with a brokerage. “With eXp Realty, my clients didn’t have to pay more than they needed to, to cover my overhead expenses,” he says.

The company expects to surpass 5,000 agents this fall.

In August it announced Q2 revenue earnings of $39.6 million, which was up 198 per cent from $13.3 million in Q2 2016.

  • verona38ca

    This reads like an advertisement.

  • Frank Heitzer

    And once again we see a MLM situation in the real estate world trying to convince agents to be the next best thing to sliced bread. It didn’t work in the past and it won’t work in the future. Professional agents won’t share their commissions with anyone and when looking at the franchise fees of most franchise systems, these fees represent a small fraction, compared to what the agents give up in the MLM solution.

    • Jason Beattie

      Frank, we actually don’t “share” our commission. We pay the company a fee just as you do and probably less than you do. We also receive stock in the company which I don’t believe your company gives you and we also have one if the most incredible lead generation tools that I have ever used. I have been able to generate more leads in one week than most Realtors do in a month. It is unfortunate when people are myopic and miss all the game changers this company provides. I am sure there were people who said that Netfix was never going to catch on as well. If you ever have questions on the whole package, don’t hesitate to call. I would be happy to share with you all of my experiences.

      • Dave says

        I reviewed toronto mls statistics and couldn’t find any sales for eXp Realty. The key to real estate sales success is to actually sell real estate. Low fees for no sales isn’t impressive.

        • Jason Beattie

          Dave, I’m in Alberta so I can’t speak to the volume in Ontario right now but I can tell you it has only been in Ontario for about a month. I am also very comfortable telling you that many of our agents are big player in their markets and so I am very comfortable that Toronto will have a number come over by the end of the year. Imagine working for a company that can be 100% commission and offer stock options. As well as all the other tools and training. There will always be those that sit and judge and then there will be those that take glorious action and do. Those that are open to growth will ask questions and evaluate and truly make an effort to understand. The rest, power to them and I wish them all the best. Dave, feel free to ask questions if you are ever feeling open to discussion.

          • Dave says

            EXP has been in Toronto since May of 2017 and appears to have had no sales on Torontomls. Six months of no sales during the hottest market on record is unimpressive. !00% of zero is ?

        • Realtor Guy

          Dave, KW has failed in Alberta but that doesn’t mean that they’re a bad company everywhere else. Remax isn’t successful everywhere and neither is Royal LePage. How does one area determine the success of an entire company?

          • Frank Heitzer

            Actually, RE/MAX is successful in every market. C21 tried and failed three times in Germany, RE/MAX is still there and growing. Oh and when you look to the Argentinian market: CB was there long before RE/MAX, but RE/MAX are outselling CB in Argentina 3 to 1. eXp is a MLM company and to the best of my understanding, has nothing to gain in the real estate industry. We are dealing with the most important investments of most people’s lives, a MLM platform is wrong in this industry. Go sell diet juices or pills with MLM but not real estate.

      • Frank Heitzer

        I actually can buy and do buy stock in my company, and Netfix ;) never caught on. It was Netflix, that changed the game.
        No worries, because I’m a professional, I’ve already had my share of pitches to become a recruit of eXp. Thanks, but no thanks.

        • Jason Beattie

          I understand you can buy stock in the company but I am sure you are not given stock for specific activities like doing your 1st transaction each year. Does your company give you an opportunity to buy stock at a 20% discount. Does your company give you a trophy or $16,000 in company stock when you achieve certain goals. I am sure the accolades listed on your business card looks great.

          MORE MASSIVE NEWS!!! Jay Kinder and Michael Reese have joined eXp Realty! Jay was Coldwell Banker’s #2 agent in the World. Michael was Keller Williams Top 50 in the world. Welcome to Agent Ownership and the future of real estate! Ready to know why so many mega agents are flocking to eXp? Call me!

          I wonder how many mega agents will have to come to eXp from your company before you want to have an open mind. It is fine. Some people are leaders and some are followers. I am sure you will be welcome when you are ready.

    • Lonna Lamphere

      Hi Frank! :) We have over 5000 professional agents, so I would say something is working & working great! If you would like accurate information, I would be happy to explain the model to you. Agents don’t share their commission, we pay no franchise fees every, nor is it even compared to franchise fee. It is the next best thing to sliced bread! Love the company & the model. I was previously with a franchise company before so I am aware of the differences, I loved the company I was previously with until I switched! WOW amazing difference! Have a great evening Frank! :)

      • Frank Heitzer

        And KW is talking about 140000 professionals. The numbers don’t show professionalism, when on average less than 5 homes are being sold per agent

        • Realtor Guy

          The only thing which shows professionalism is the feedback clients provide. EVERY realtor says they’re ‘professional’, however so many of them barely understand grammar, have no understanding of contract law and wouldn’t be able to use a computer to save their life…let alone have any kind of a decent credit rating (and as a B.O.R i’ve seen these attributes far too often). Numbers mean nothing..if I sell more homes than another realtor does that mean I’m more/less professional? Hardly.

          • Frank Heitzer

            So you tell me an agent who sells less than five homes a year knows what is happening in the market place?

    • It’s not just the next best thing since sliced bread but it’s better than sliced bread!