Houston’s Abby Realty, a brokerage with over 472 agents and one of Texas’ fastest growing independents, is making the move to eXp Realty, another sign that the brokerage’s remote business model continues to resonate with industry leaders.
Abby Realty was founded by Frank Gray in 2017, 19 years after he joined a Keller Williams office.
Gray started the transition slowly, meeting individually with each of his top 25 agents.
“I shared my plans with them privately. They’re financially savvy, so when I explained it to them, they got it,” he told Inman on a phone call.
Gray followed up his meetings with an invite to Las Vegas for EXPCON last week. “Fantastic,” was how Gray explained the team’s reaction to their soon-to-be-new brokerage.
Abby Realty’s agents will join the ranks of more than 68,000 other practicing agents now part of eXp. Gray doesn’t expect everyone to come along.
“I know my top 30 are 100 percent in,” Gray said, referring to how many agents will make the jump. “Of my top 50, it’s probably 97, 98 percent. My target rollover number is 400 agents.”
If Gray is correct, Abby Realty’s move will make it one of eXp’s larger acquisitions, and make eXp’s founder Glenn Sanford’s prediction of 500,000 agents within five years that much closer to possible.
To say eXp has been on a roll lately would be an understatement. The company has pulled in a number of influential teams and companies this year alone, including Salt Lake City’s Perry Group, formerly of Keller Williams, a 900-agent independent out of Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.’s The Lahey Group, among others.
The most common refrain from those shifting to the office-less upstart is that the company’s “borderless” ownership structure empowers quick expansion, and that there’s a stronger overall sense of independence than with traditional brokerages.
Technology, online training and events, and of course, revenue sharing are also strong incentives for brokers to switch.
Gray concurs, telling Inman he didn’t look at any other national brands. He cited their use of kvCORE and the enterprise version of Breakthrough Broker, systems Gray already uses, as “confirmation in their judgement.”
Beyond technology, though, Gray said what really drew him to eXp was access to the top agents and resources in the industry.
“I love the idea of being connected to top agents an top team leaders all over the country,” he said. “They’re welcoming us to the family, and showing us it’s a helping culture.”
Opportunities to additional revenue streams for agents, such as those generated by sponsoring new agents into the company, also appealed to Gray.
“As a small independent brokerage, I can’t give them ownership in my company, I can’t share revenues, there simply isn’t enough to go around,” he said.
EXp Realty CEO Jason Gesing (Sanford is CEO of eXp’s parent company) mirrored Gray’s comments in a recent discussion with Inman.
“With eXp, that brokerage owner now is able to dispense with all of the things that he or she doesn’t like doing. And they can focus on doing what they like to do,” Gesing said. “For some of them, it’s going to be a return to sales. For others, it’s going to be leveraging their network and credibility that they’ve built up over the course of their career.”
In a November 3 earnings call, eXp reported its sixth straight record-breaking quarter, hauling in $1.1 billion in revenue, a 97 percent year over year increase.
Abby Realty was lured to eXp by Andrew Franklin, a partner with The Franklin Team, another Houston eXp office. Franklin’s father was Gray’s agent when he moved to Houston.
Franklin told Inman over the phone that his reason for moving over to eXp after his family has been under a more traditional model for 32 years stemmed from the remote brokerage’s ability to foster growth out from the under larger financial obligations.
“The ability to have a bigger opportunity for not only me, but for our agents,” he said. “The value we were getting didn’t add up to what we were paying, and eXp gave us the opportunity to not only eliminate our fees, but actually get paid to grow the company.”
Frankin said they considered going independent, but that requires “a big check.”
Gray expects Abby Realty’s move to be finalized the week before Christmas. He wants everyone with pending deals to be paid and prepared for the start of 2022 under a new brand.
“We’re going to have a big Christmas party on December 16, Glenn Sanford and Jason [Gesing] will be coming in for that,” Gray said. “It’ll be a huge celebration of this transition.”