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Early adopter with eXp reaps long-term benefits

Less than three years ago Bjorn Kunzel was so concerned about the future in real estate he was considering other options.

Today, he has a team of 40 agents servicing Adelaide and Port Lincoln, and is setting up his financial security with a range of diverse income streams. He is in the top one per cent of sales agents in South Australia.

What made the difference? His partnership with the online real estate brokerage eXp Realty.

“I was introduced to the eXp model and it took me five seconds to realise this was the future of real estate,” Mr Kunzel said.

“I wanted to be the first in so I could grow the biggest team.”

He became the first eXp agent in South Australia in May 2020.

With the arrival of Covid earlier that year he feared the impact on the property market could lead to a crash and took on a side business selling solar power systems. But not for long.

“Almost from the time I came into real estate in 2008 I was looking for something like eXp,” Mr Kunzel said.

“I thought, ‘Why are agents giving away 50 to 60 per cent of their income to a boss who provides an office, a computer and a receptionist?’”

“I knew this was the right move when I saw eXp agents have the opportunity to be on 100 per cent commission and rewarded with shares in the company.”

The partnership with eXp made an immediate difference to Mr Kunzel’s life.

“Before joining eXp my best year was $438,000 in gross commission and my income was about $255,000.

“In my first year with eXp, when no one in South Australia knew who they were, I did $478,000 GCI and earned about $440,000. It added more than $200,000 to my bottom line in that first year.”

Agents with eXp receive 75 per cent of commissions up to a cap of $100,000 after which they receive 100 per cent of their commissions in that year.

Agents who achieve a benchmark of 20 sales or GCI of $350,000 after reaching the cap are awarded the company’s Icon status, with rewards of shares in eXp.

In his first two years with the company, Mr Kunzel reached the $100,000 cap in three months in both years.

He was the first Australian agent to reach the Icon benchmark, which also recognises positive impact within the company.

He achieved the Icon award again in 2022 and is on track to reach Icon status again in early 2023.

The commission split and access to the company’s global resources are not the only reasons why eXp, founded in the US in 2009, now has 80,000 agents around the world.

“With eXp we have four lanes of revenue,” Mr Kunzel said.

“I own a rent roll which eXp manages for me. We earn revenue from growing a team while helping other agents achieve their goals, as well as sales commissions and the share rewards.

“A lot of agents live paycheck to paycheck. I have five properties, earn more than $100,000 a year from residual income from growing the team of 40 agents and am doing about $600,000 a year from GCI.

“That’s working part-time. I have a lifestyle and I have assets and no matter what happens I have those safety nets.”

Mr Kunzel is Adelaide born and bred and has seen the Adelaide property market boom in the past few years. 

“We aren’t reliant on any one industry here,” he said.

“We have farming, great food and wine country, we export uranium, the naval base and a diverse range of industry. South Australia has been a secret that is undervalued and that is why the market has done so well.”

While companies like eXp have changed the landscape for real estate agents, Mr Kunzel’s personal approach remains the same.

“The biggest mistake that agents make is that they think real estate is about real estate when it is about people,” he said.

“I just have conversations with people and 93 per cent of the time I walk away with that business.”

He is critical of agents who focus on price and selling themselves to win clients rather than offering solutions to their problems.

“It doesn’t matter what happens in the market or if it goes up or goes down,” Mr Kunzel said.

“The reason people sell houses is because of their personal situation.

“I don’t go into my presentations with any marketing whatsoever. I have a conversation as if I am talking to a friend. Where are you at? Why are you thinking about moving? Do you have to sell? Why don’t we look at sub-dividing or refinancing? I give them every option.

“The bottom line is that clients only list and sell with people they trust and like. If they don’t like you or trust you, then you have to be the cheapest on the block.”

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Noel Mengel

Noel Mengel is a freelance journalist and author based in Brisbane.

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