Five years ago, Jon Lahey, CEO and Founder, The Fine Living Group at eXp, envisioned partnering with other real estate agents, both locally and in other states. However, the numbers never added up.
At the time, he worked at a brick-and-mortar brokerage and would have had to get real estate licenses and open brokerages in other states or pay rent to brokers in the various locations. “Someone on the food chain would have taken a pay cut,” he explains, “whether the owner, agent, or team leader.”
After he switched over to his current brokerage, Lahey realized teaming up would now make sense financially. Since the brokerage is virtual, Lahey wouldn’t need to pay rent, buy franchises, or get licenses in other states.
This past August, Lahey reached out to the agents with whom he’d wanted to work in the past and began forging these partnerships.
Currently, Lahey has partners in several states. Michael Garcia, CEO, San Jose, California-based The Garcia Real Estate Team, was one of his first. But Lahey has ambitious goals. By April 2022—which will be his one-year anniversary under eXp—he aims to have established 100 such partnerships.
How it works
For all his partners—whether they work under his Fine Living Group or maintain their own business and brand—Lahey provides sales tools, resources, marketing materials, mentorship, and training. He also meets with them on a regular basis and offers them the use of the proprietary technology he developed back in 2013. His “checklist” system automates tasks, from following up on emails to entering homes into the MLS system.
Among the lessons Lahey teaches partners, including Garcia, is how to generate business by capturing client success stories and sharing them on social media. He also reveals how he grew his team so rapidly, largely thanks to his technology’s handling of mundane tasks. By cutting down on these time-consuming and repetitive action items, agents can focus on giving clients personal attention. “They appreciate being able to spend time on the one part of their job they really enjoy—the face-to-face experience—rather than these tasks,” Lahey explains.
Although Lahey plays a mentoring role, he learns from his partner agents as well. For instance, Garcia picked up open house marketing ideas from a conference he attended, then shared them with Lahey, who is putting them into practice for his own team. Also key, Lahey benefits financially from these partnerships, thanks to the eXp revenue-sharing model.
However, team leaders and individual agents have been successful with this model, as well. For example, Lee Goldberg, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Realty in Winter Park, Florida, holds a second license in Nevada, where he serves the Las Vegas and Reno markets. Goldberg notes that having a team to support both businesses is vital to his success. “You really have to look at your schedule and have good support in both locations, because you can’t be in two places at once,” says Goldberg.
Establishing these partnerships is much easier when real estate agents already have established businesses, explains Lahey. When partners start from the ground up in new markets, more work is required. For instance, when expanding into Hollywood, Florida, Lahey needed to build a new website and make sure staff could support Florida contracts.
How to pick the right partners
Lahey puts a lot of care into picking his partners. Most important, he stresses, is that they hold similar values. After all, “you can’t scale a business model using different values,” he says. He looks for agents who agree with a philosophy he sums up as, “we love, we care, we serve.” In the case of Lahey and Garcia, they had the same mentor, Craig Proctor, and met at one of his conferences.
In general, when considering a partner prospect, Lahey always asks whether and how he can bring value to that agent. “I truly believe in the law of reciprocity,” he says. “One day, maybe you’ll bring value to me when I need it too.”