Despite ambitious goals, the virtual brokerage eXp Realty is seeing its growth slow amid a lagging market — and the company is unlikely to hit a target Sanford set earlier this year.

All week, Inman is taking a Deep Dive into eXp Realty. We’ll be covering the brokerage’s annual EXPCON event — taking place virtually and in Las Vegas this week. Stay tuned in the coming days for more on eXp, and for future Inman Deep Dives into top brokerages.

EXp World Holdings founder and CEO Glenn Sanford said this week that his goal is to increase his company’s U.S. agent count to as much as 250,000, though he also acknowledged that the shifting market has slowed down growth “pretty quickly” — to the point that it appears poised to miss a growth target mentioned earlier this year.

Sanford made the comments near the end of a fireside chat Thursday evening that was held as part of EXPCON, the company’s annual gathering that took place this week in Las Vegas. During the conversation, Sanford said his company has been hearing from broker-owners who are considering making the jump to eXp because they can “get better economics inside” the firm than they can by “trying to figure out how to support their bricks and mortar and their staffing costs in a slow market.”

The comment speaks to one of eXp’s core stories, which is that it has been a rapidly growing brokerage from its earliest days. The company also announced at the beginning of EXPCON that it has officially reached 85,000 agents worldwide.

In that context, Sanford suggested that the overall number of Realtors in the U.S. may shrink from about 1.5 million to as low as 1.1 million. But he said eXp is still growing now and will continue to do so in the future.

“Our goal is to get to 200,000, 250,000 agents over time in the United States,” he added.

Sanford did not mention a timeline for when he thinks the company might hit that number.

The comment came one year after Sanford, at last year’s EXPCON, said he envisioned eXp reaching 500,000 agents worldwide within five years. It was unclear Friday if eXp still believes that number is attainable, and if doing so in the original timeframe Sanford proposed — there are four years left on the clock — is realistic.

Inman has reached out to eXp for clarification and will update this story with any information the company provides.

In any case, questions about growth are especially relevant right now because, despite the goal of having significantly more agents, Sanford also indicated during the chat that the slowing market is taking a toll on the pace of the company’s growth.

“Because of interest rates growing so fast, in the U.S. specifically, that did slow down our U.S. growth pretty quickly,” Sanford acknowledged, though he said most agents who leave eXp are typically low or non-producers. “Our producing agents are still super sticky. We don’t have a lot of churn in the productive agent category.”

Still, the numbers are significant. Back in April, during Inman Connect in New York City, Sanford said eXp was already at 80,000 agents worldwide, and that he expected the company to hit 100,000 by the end of this year. In the six months since then, however, the company has instead only added about 5,000 agents — meaning growth was slower than Sanford anticipated. It also means the company is unlikely to hit the 100,000-agent target by year’s end.

Sanford did say during the fireside chat that eXp continues to grow even as “most real estate firms are seeing their agent count go down at the moment.” And, he added, the brokerage is working to position itself so that it emerges on the other side of the slowdown in a position of strength.

But eXp has long been the poster brokerage for fast growth. The slowing numbers and (likely) missed 2022 agent count target consequently offer yet another stark example of how this year has not turned out quite how anyone expected or hoped.

During the fireside chat, Sanford also offered an update on his company’s overseas footprint — presumably a key part of achieving significantly higher agent count numbers. He said there are currently between 10,000 and 11,000 agents outside the U.S. That number includes about 5,000 agents in Canada, 1,500 in India and 300 in the U.K.

“International is growing rapidly but it’s a small number,” Sanford said of the figures.

Beyond slowing agent count growth, the slow market has also seeped into other parts of eXp’s business as well. The mortgage industry generally has been hammered by rising rates, and Sanford ultimately said during the chat that applications for loans made through his company are similarly “down pretty substantially.”

“[On] the mortgage side,” Sanford said, “we are getting more mortgages into the system but it’s still for the most part a rounding error.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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