Congratulations to the 2021 RealTrends Game Changers. These brokerage leaders grew their brokerages dramatically over the past five years. Brokerages are chosen based on transaction side percentage growth between 2016-2020.
Only two brokerages from last year made this year’s Game Changers list: Bill Bullock, CEO of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty and Tom Hosack, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty.
In analyzing this list of top-growth brokerages, these Game Changers grew their brokers in multiple different ways. From mergers and acquisitions to recruiting and coaching and retention. We’ll reveal our Game Changers’ secrets in a series of articles starting next week.
This year, we are proud to present the 2021 Game Changers:
- Glenn Sanford, CEO and Founder, eXp World Holdings, Bellingham, Washington: +2,418% growth
“Our revenue share has been the big underlying driver to our growth. I think we’ve got a dozen or so folks that literally have helped eXp grow. They’ve grown passive income streams of close to (if not over) $1 million a year. The opportunity to build something akin to an ownership interest in a brokerage without the brain damage of actually starting a brokerage, that’s really what the eXp model has created.”
- Robert Reffkin, CEO and Founder, Compass, New York, New York: +2,395% growth
“Compass is growing today because of our agents’ entrepreneurial spirit and the power of the Compass platform. While our community of agents has grown, and the overall real estate market has grown, our transactions and sales volume have grown much, much more quickly.”
- Jose Medina, operating partner and Rich Cosgrove, broker, Keller Williams Legacy Group Realty LLC, Canton, Ohio: +435% growth
“We don’t just say we are a company built by agents for agents, it’s the truth. At Keller Williams Legacy Group Realty, we have created an agent centric culture by having the right leaders, an active Agent Leadership Counsel and continue to educate and empower our agents.”
- Keith Pike, RE/MAX Elite, Conway Arkansas: +306% growth
“I started RE/MAX thinking that I was going to recruit 20 agents and then sail off into the sunset. I got to 20 and realized that I wasn’t making any money. So, I added 10 more agents. You’re making more, but you realize you have to add a staff person for support and the cycle continues. By 2020, we added a whole lot of agents. In 2021, the focus is about agent development and retention.”
- Bill Flemming, broker/owner, HomeSmart Connect, Arlington Heights, Illinois: +305% growth
“When I first looked at HomeSmart, I went out to lunch with Founder Matt Widdows. He told me the first 20 agents would be hard to get, the next 50 agents will be easier, but when you hit 100, people will start calling you. I said, ‘There’s no way that’s going to happen.’ Sure enough, at 100 agents, that’s exactly what happened. That was a turning point and wake-up call for me to put my full faith in the leadership team at HomeSmart International. In the last five years, we’ve mostly grown organically although we did have two very small acquisitions.”
- Anthony Lamacchia, CEO, Lamacchia Realty, Waltham, Massachusetts: +212% growth
“When we made the switch from a team to a brokerage model, we were already independent. It took me about two years of making adjustments and structural changes, and processes to get up and running. Then, in 2017, I hired a coach —Jon Cheplak. I told him my goal to recruit 40 to 50 agents a year. He suggested I start a Facebook page (Crush It in Real Estate). I shared real estate tips for agents and invited them to my sales training. In January 2020, we had a Crush It In Real Estate event. At least 700 real estate professionals showed up, and only 240 were ours.”
- Bill Bullock, CEO, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, Mill Valley, California: +192% growth
“We began last year with just under 500 agents. We’re probably now at 550 to 575 agents and another 70 staff. So, we’re over 600 people and 25 offices. Despite that, we tried to reduce our office space last year, and I learned it’s not easy to do. It seemed like every time we closed one office, we opened two more. An organization takes on the personality of its big dog. In my mind, I’m still a small company kind of guy. While this organization is a lot bigger than it used to be, we’re still essentially a small company. So culture here is a big deal for us.”
- Jason Sherman, CEO, RLAH Real Estate, Chevy Chase, Maryland: +172% growth
“Our brokerage philosophy is to tell our story and do good work. Just like you would want to get referrals as a Realtor, because you did a good job, that’s how we operate. Our story resonates with a lot of people, but not everyone. So, we focus on staying true to what we say and making sure our services help agents accomplish the goals that are set.”
- Steve Houle, CEO, Coldwell Banker Island Properties, Kihei, Hawaii: +141% growth
“Even though we’ve been aggressive in terms of acquisitions and recruiting, we’ve continually invested in our own agents. We did have a strategic acquisition of Clark Realty on the Big Island, which got us a significant market share and three more offices. We’ve also recruited some top agents. A big focus for us is retention and productivity increases of our existing agents.”
- Greg McClure, CEO, Realty ONE Group Complete, Rocklin, California: +120% growth
“We grew all organically, not one M&A transaction in the whole bunch. I’ll be frank with you. When I opened those doors with 18 agents, there was no Plan B. Our sole focus was on the relentless pursuit of growth. We don’t call it recruiting anymore, we call it growth acquisition. But we’re still trying to share our story with as many people as possible to show them why we think we’re a better fit than their current company.”
- Tom Hosack, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, Wexford, Pennsylvania: +118% growth
“We were always trying to find companies that we could buy cheap and leverage them. Then, I heard a quote from Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, ‘Every great asset I own, I probably overpaid for at the time I bought it, but I bought quality stuff and over time it works out.’ So, we changed our strategy. We changed how we looked at real estate deals and got much more aggressive with what we were willing to do. Now, we’re bringing quality people into the organization, many of whom have stayed on in employee roles. It’s worked out very well for all of us.”
- Neil Walter, CEO, ERA Brokers Consolidated/Skyline, Saint George, Utah: +96.5% growth
“For us, technology is really important. It must be integrated so that you have a high level of implementation. We have every single one of our listings and buy-side transactions fully implemented and launched on that platform. It’s valuable to our agents and it works, so we have a very high level of implementation.“
- Greg Harrelson, CENTURY 21 The Harrelson Group, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: +85.3% growth
“My focus was two things: Internal growth and external growth. I was very intentional about both. Let’s talk about internal growth, which means coaching each agent to get them to their next level. I looked at the agents and their production. I wrote down a number for every agent. If an agent was doing 15 transactions a year, I would figure out a way to coach that agent to do 45 transactions a year. It was a lot easier to get someone from 15 to 45 transactions than to figure out how to recruit another agent and get them up and running on our systems.”
- Susan Jenkins, Ph.D., Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Native American Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia: +70.3% growth
“We were an independent brokerage for a long time. But, once we hit that million GCI, Better Homes and Gardens started coming to us. I didn’t want to do it. At that time, we were 90% REO and only 10% private. We did it and it was a paradigm shift for me. It was a way to create a legacy to pass on to my kids. Within six months of us joining the brand, I think we doubled our GCI. We were able to recruit easier than before and parlay it into numerous other government contracts. We went into the relocation business, and we decided to do everything organically.”
Game Changers are chosen based on RealTrends 500 data, transaction percentage growth, between 2016-2020.