Glenn Sanford focused on agents, growth and well-being as eXp moves forward
By stepping back into the CEO role at eXp Realty, Sanford wants to send a clear message that he’s there to help agents through the market slowdown.
- Sanford felt it was the right time to take the helm, but sees his shift in roles as temporary.
- Despite a challenging market, eXp is planning to add more agents to its current total of 86,000, with the goal of becoming the industry's largest brokerage.
- Sanford is resolved "to make sure we truly run the company as an agent-centric business."
Editor's note: Each year, the Swanepoel Power 200 recognizes the most powerful and influential leaders in residential real estate. In this series of SP 200 Inside Look interviews, we're diving deeper and learning about these top leaders' aspirations and accomplishments, and the opportunities they see in the year ahead.
For Glenn Sanford, the shift in the real estate market prompted what felt like a natural shift in his role. As the new leader of eXp Realty, Sanford is embracing a more hands-on approach to his company and making himself more available to agents — at least until the market is back on track.
Sanford, who founded eXp in 2009 during another tumultuous time in real estate, recently took back the reins as CEO of the brokerage, which has around 86,000 agents. His leadership of the large cloud-based real estate brokerage, as well as eXp World Holdings, earned him the No. 3 spot on this year's Swanepoel Power 200 list.
In an interview, Sanford said it was important for him to be present for eXp's agents in the midst of this challenging real estate market. In recent months, he's been more visible, sharing his thoughts on social media, in internal communications, at real estate events and with media outlets. He's also connecting with agents on topics beyond real estate, including the importance of maintaining your health.
"If the market hadn't turned, I likely wouldn't have taken on the role because the company was growing," Sanford said. "But now it feels like with the slowing market it can use more attention on the attraction [of agents] but also the retention piece. Just to let agents know that I'm there and they can connect with me.
"Eventually I won't be in the CEO role, just because it won't make sense for me to be there. I want the next generation of leaders to take on that role. But for now, let's do everything we can for the next year-and-a-half, two years and then look at where we are at," he said.
Anticipating a rebound, eXp remains focused on growth
Having been through a down market — eXp launched during the Great Recession — Sanford sees the current market as comparatively stable. He's still expecting a few tough quarters ahead, but given the amount of equity most people have in their homes, Sanford doesn't see a crisis looming or huge waves of foreclosures on the horizon.
Instead, he believes it's just a matter of time before prices and interest rates come down to the point where buyers can afford to take out mortgages again.
And, despite the market slowdown, eXp remains focused on growth. By the end of the year, Sanford wants the company's agent count to be around 107,000. Ultimately, the goal is to be the largest brand in the industry, something Sanford hopes to accomplish in the next five years.
In adding more agents and expanding its market share, eXp is looking internationally. The company is now in 24 countries, most recently adding a presence in Dubai. Several of those markets are doing well, said Sanford, particularly Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. Expanding into new international markets is also one of the company's biggest expenses because of the effort that goes into getting established.
Committed to an agent-centric business
With a continual drive toward growth and expansion, Sanford is also confronting the conundrum faced by many organizations: The more a company grows, the more corporate it becomes, which often means more distance from the needs of customers and agents.
"I still think about real estate from the perspective of an agent," said Sanford, who started his real estate career as an agent in northwest Washington. "We want to make sure we truly run the company as an agent-centric business."
Recent business decisions, while affecting some eXp staff, have ultimately been made with agents in mind. Like many other brokerages, eXp instituted a hiring freeze and incrementally laid off some workers.
But Sanford said small rounds of layoffs rather than one large layoff allowed eXp to make reductions in a way that impacted agents the least. He believes the need for incremental cuts is nearing an end, particularly as eXp and the rest of the industry head into the spring homebuying season. While it's expected to be a quieter year, signs point to a more stable market ahead.
In leaning into his goal of being a visible, hands-on CEO during this down period in the real estate cycle, Sanford has continued to promote the importance of staying healthy. He said he got great feedback after he began highlighting fitness last fall.
He's also mindful of the need to disconnect; he has focus settings on his phone to make sure he's not interrupted, and he sets a goal of getting 85% or more of his meetings done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
"You have to figure out a balance," Sanford said, who blocks out 90 minutes for fitness each day. "I'm pretty religious about that. I make sure to focus on diet and exercise and then share that message with agents and brokers.
"At the end of the day, if you're not healthy, you can't go list and sell homes or spend time with the family."
Write to Dave Gallagher.