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Broker Spotlight: John Gafford, Simply Vegas

Title: CEO

Location: Las Vegas Valley

Brokerage: Simply Vegas

Rankings: No. 1 boutique, highest avg sales price any large company

Team size: 580 agents

Transaction sides: 5,000

Sales volume: $2 billion

Why John Gafford is in the spotlight

Prior to his career in real estate, John Gafford, CEO at Simply Vegas, was a successful serial entrepreneur, creating multiple businesses in the hospitality, insurance and tech spaces. After being selected from more than 1.8 million applicants to compete on the third season of NBC’s The Apprentice, he relocated to Las Vegas in 2006. 

After his stint on the show and selling shares in his latest venture, Apprentice winner Kendra Todd told Gafford to get off the bench and into real estate. So he got his license and spent his first year working his way up the new agent ranks on her team, a path he’d recommend to all new agents

What are 3 things you’d like readers to know?

  1. At scale, an independent 100 percent can offer as much if not more than national franchises. 
  2. Brand matters, surrounding yourself with top performers is key as the agents who work at your company are the brand on your local market. 
  3. Working at a company that is completely vertically integrated with mortgage and title is a win-win for the agents and consumers.

How did you get your start in real estate?

After I sold my shares in my tech firm, Kendra Todd who won my season of The Apprentice, said “You can’t just sit on your boat all day. Get a real estate license, and come work with me. It will be fun.” I spent my first year on her team on a 50-50 split, a path I recommend to all new agents

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started? 

My three laws of real estate.

1. Disclose disclose disclose No matter how remote, if you think it affects the deal, disclose it.

2. Everybody is cool until they’re not. It doesn’t matter how friendly everyone is in a deal, get all the terms in writing. Never expect anyone to do you an implied kindness. 

3. Everybody buys a refrigerator sometimes. On occasion, you just have to bite the bullet and go into your own pocket when things go south, make your clients happy and get onto the next. 

What makes a good leader? 

To me, it’s about one thing: reaching back as you push forward. To me, the best thing I can do for our agents is create opportunities. It may be through new tech, education or by creating investment opportunities. I feel we should be judged by the success we cultivate in others, not the success we create for ourselves. 

What’s one thing you wish every agent knew?  

The most important part of your brokerage contract is the separation terms. I know you’re excited when you sign, but this is your brokerage prenup. I would not settle for anything less than being able to leave with no notice, no penalties and your listings. If a broker won’t agree to that, take it as a red flag.

Know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Broker Spotlight? Nominations, please, to

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of DOORA Properties in Southern California. Follow him on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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