Real estate franchisor Keller Williams Realty continues to vacuum up agent recruits at a break-neck pace, seeming to reflect a continued focus on agent acquisition as a core part of the firm’s growth strategy.

  • Keller Williams says its total number of associates jumped 19% to 133,000 in 2015, purportedly widening its lead in total agents over competitors.
  • That doesn't mean Keller Williams' agents are more productive than others. Re/Max, for example, has reported that its agents close transactions at a rate that's more than double the rate reported by Keller Williams.
  • Keller Williams says its franchise owners shared more than $130 million profit with associates.

Real estate franchisor Keller Williams Realty continues to vacuum up agent recruits at a break-neck pace, seeming to reflect a continued focus on agent acquisition as a core part of the firm’s growth strategy.

Keller Williams Realty’s number of associates, which include agents, office leadership, staff and coaches, surged 19 percent to 133,000 in 2015, widening its lead in associates over competitors, according to the Austin, Texas-based franchisor.

Inman wasn’t able to obtain updated numbers from various franchisors on their total number of associates, but a 2015 report on franchisors from Realtor Magazine suggests that Coldwell Banker (86,000 agents and brokers), Re/Max (57,000 agents and brokers) and Century 21 (53,000 agents and brokers) are the next three largest franchisors by associates.

Mirroring Keller Williams’ growth in associates, the number of transactions closed by Keller Williams agents in 2015 increased 19 percent year over year to 843,547, Keller Williams reported. Those transactions amounted to $228 billion in sales, up 24 percent year over year, the firm said.

While Keller Williams may boast the highest number of agents of any franchisor, that doesn’t necessarily mean its agents are more productive than those affiliated with other brands.

The average number of transactions a Keller Williams sales agent closed in 2015 was 7.4, up from 7.3 in 2014, Keller Williams said.

Some other top real estate franchisors wouldn’t immediately disclose agent productivity numbers to Inman, but Re/Max — which has claimed to have the most productive agents of all franchisors over the years — said its average agent closed 16 transactions in 2014.

Keller Williams said its franchise owners posted $155 million in profit in 2015, up 29 percent year over year. Keller Williams reported that its franchise owners collectively earned more than Keller Williams itself — something that Keller Williams attributed to caps in royalties that Keller Williams agents must pay.

The firm also revealed that its franchise owners had distributed $130 million in profits to their associates, a 32 percent increase from 2014.

Profits earned by a Keller Williams brokerage are distributed to an associate based on the number of agents that that associate has recruited to Keller Williams and how productive those recruits are. This “profit share” reward system has helped Keller Williams rapidly increase its number of agents by financially incentivizing agents to persuade others to join the company.

Keller Williams growth reflects “the value we’re providing our associates to build their businesses and expand market share in their local markets,” said Keller Williams President President John Davis in a statement.

“Our systems and models, tools and technology and our world-class training and coaching programs are helping associates create opportunities for themselves and their families.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to specify that profits made by Keller Williams brokerages are distributed to an associate based, not just on the number of agents that that associate has recruited to Keller Williams, but also on those agents’ productivity. 

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