Building Long-Term Relationships Between Real Estate Agents and Investors

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This is a podcast episode titled, Building Long-Term Relationships Between Real Estate Agents and Investors. The summary for this episode is: <p><strong>Your next high-quality investment deal is right in front of you, but you might miss it if you’re not going all in on your relationships. This week we’re joined by Mark Woodling, Director of Institutional Investment Services at eXp Realty, who crystalizes the value of developing and cultivating relationships with real estate agents to close high-quality real estate investing deals.&nbsp;</strong></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Nate and Mark talk about how the deals are out there, but real estate agents need to continue specializing in their craft and continue providing value to their clients and investors who are in their circle.&nbsp;</strong></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Join us as we discuss:</strong></p><p><br></p><ul><li><strong>How to create a win/win for agents and real estate investors</strong></li><li><strong>The importance of agents bringing value to clients to make logical decisions that removes barriers&nbsp;</strong></li><li><strong>How real estate agents can set themselves up for success by giving valuable information <em>before</em> they ask for a deal</strong></li></ul><p><br></p>

Nate Trunfio: Welcome real estate investors of all kinds. This is another great episode of The Real Estate of Things. I'm your host, Nate Trunfio with Lima One Capital. Today, we have a great expert friend of mine, Mark Noodling. We are going to dive deep into his career and journey, as he has a lot of experience from auction housing to REO, to focusing on helping real estate agents that are investor- focused, as well as his perspective on the market. There's a lot of action here. Make sure you catch the end as I try to stump Mark. He's a really smart guy, and I'm interested to see if I can do that. So let's take a listen in. Mark Woodling, my good friend. Welcome to The Real Estate of Things podcast, man. Happy to have you on.

Mark Woodling: Thank you, sir. Good to see you, Nate.

Nate Trunfio: So I'm excited because you really have a awesome and diverse background and journey, always around servicing real estate investors and providing options. A lot on the opportunity and buy side, but also sell. So can you just educate us a little bit on some of the journey throughout your career, because I think that sets a really good stage for the rest of the stuff we can talk about here?

Mark Woodling: Yeah, sure. I've always found the hardest real estate to deal with was always the most interesting. So I got started actually in the auction world, going to tax lien auctions of all things back in 2002 when real estate was not in this distress mode. We were pre- great recession. And I was actually driving for dollars and going out to tax lien auctions and bidding at the auction. So this was for a private equity firm. And really saw the rest of the United States. Having been born and raised in Texas and school on the East coast, I didn't know about other real estate until I started driving through DC, New Orleans and some of those more special markets. But I saw the underbelly of the real estate market that just was harder to really identify and make sense of, where it was all about numbers and cents. So we got into that back in 2002, 2007. But shortly after that, having been in the auction business, I actually started over at Fannie Mae and was working in their REO division and this was before they needed the auction team to get back together before the big, call it meltdown started to happen. So I actually started off as the asset manager just helping dispose of properties, and then they put this auction team back together. So with that background, I started selling about 18,000 properties a year through auction. It was all the Big 4 auction vendors. And just again, saw just the nasty part of real estate where demand was not there, but we had so much supply and we had to create the marketplace to really attract people to buy at the right price. So selling at 54 cents on the dollar was our average back then. And I got to see all markets again. So at this point, the theme was always real estate on a national level of all different types and walks of life from... With Fannie Mae, they had a price cap, so you didn't see multimillion dollar properties. But shortly after Fannie Mae, I worked at Xome and I was their chief auctioneer. So went to auction school, became an auctioneer having been a seller before and a buyer before. And now I'm actually the auctioneer and the deal guy. And this was before Xome was Xome. It was owned by Nationstar Mortgage. And I got to see the deal. I was in the middle of the deal, dealing with real estate agents again and dealing with unique seller situations. And we were selling about 15, 000 properties a year, again all over the country. So anyways, lot of details about the journey, but I became a part of United Real Estate Brokerage for three years, was doing unique deals around the country. Kenny Rogers home in Athens, Georgia, 18- hole golf course, 50,000 square foot equestrian facility. I mean, some really hard- to- sell, unique assets. And I got to learn about the relationships and the building of relationships at the seller level and how hard that was for multimillion dollar properties, and then the marketing and the sale process that went along with it. But shortly after that, started Roofstock selling single- family rentals around the country and working with both retail buyers, institutional buyers. And just got to see really what the SFR space had become as a result of the REO industry. These were the companies that were buying properties back when this hadn't been institutionalized yet. The 2011 period when these companies, the Starwoods of the world started buying properties and building portfolios. And now I started to cater to those groups. So I've seen the REO industry, the underbelly of the real estate industry, and here I am today working at eXp Realty, working with real estate agents and trying to connect them to institutions and different investment groups, lenders, property managers across the country to drive more referrals to them.

Nate Trunfio: Awesome, man. As our listeners can hear, I mean, a diverse realm of backgrounds, some juicy stats in there. I mean, whether 15,000 or 18,000, oof, that's a lot of deals. We all wish that 54 cents on the dollar was easy to come by nowadays. But it's cool then also just to see not only do you learn a lot about real estate, but just about how to manage through transactions and visibility to what it takes from A to Z on a real estate investment deal. And then most importantly, relationships. We always say our business and real estate, no matter what end of it you're in, it's really all about people and the relationships is key in that. But awesome, man. Appreciate you setting the stage. So a couple of just questions tied to some of your perspective and journey here. So the foreclosure rate has continued to climb where everybody compares different metrics to different timeframes. Do you think we get back to a very heavy prevalence of auction- based platforms and lender- based REOs that provides a lot of inventory for real estate investors? Or do you think that there'll always be some, but it will never get back to maybe the levels in states that you experienced early in your career?

Mark Woodling: I think REO is going to be around because you need to have an end to the means. You have to get to a certain part of the process that you're done, right? You've gone through the foreclosure, that's done. But the institutions and the savvy investors just, they know how to find deals early on and they can smell distress from a mile away. So between wholesalers, just identifying that type of inventory and doing a lot of hard work to really nurture relationships to get those properties under contract and whatever the end goal is there, whether selling that off to an institution or selling the contract to other parties, I guess, I think people know how to get to deals earlier. And so I just don't see REO as becoming a thing that is so painful. And with so much equity in properties, it just doesn't need to go down that way where people have a lot of different exits that they can sell properties. And again, the institutions go to the foreclosure sales, but it's pre- foreclosures and it's even identifying when a missed bill on the water utilities just doesn't get paid. And the marketing that goes out for that, I feel like there's such a demand for the off- market segment that we're just not going to see that part come up again.

Nate Trunfio: Man, it's funny, my gut says the same summary answer, but I'm not smart enough nor have near the experience as you to articulate why. But I'm going to take that answer because that makes so much sense. I mean, there is so much more attraction to real estate investing nowadays, whether it's HGTV or we in private lending like to think that the institutionalization of lending for real estate investors has helped drive more attraction in capabilities for people to invest in it. But then you think about, as you speak with many an operators, I mean you just named about all the different marketing lists that people always buy, the foreclosure, pre- foreclosure, utility delinquency lists, that nowadays is so easily prevalent and there's so many systems that help marketing get to those opportunities. So I knew that you'd hit that one out of the park but didn't know it would be a grand slam, man. So I appreciate that. And so I guess just playing off of that, I focused on foreclosure in my last question, but overall in real estate investing right now, if you look forward six to 12 months, are you more on the confident that people should keep going heavy down this road or are you more on the cautious side? What's the outlook in investing in the next six to 12 months from your perspective?

Mark Woodling: Sure. Great question. Well, after going to IMN where you and I last connected, you hear this sentiment in the room and it's, " Hey, we're waiting another six months," from the institution. But when they go all in, they go all in. They create a whole other level of demand, but they're all, many looking for the same buy box. So I put that aside because when that happens, I don't know what that triggered moment will be in the economy that just sets them in that direction. But I feel like the local investor will continue to have their way, that knows how to make deals work locally. And they can look at any deal and they're going to see businesses that are going through distress situations or it is the real estate only. But they know how to invest and make something happen because they understand street by street or the hyper, hyper- local economics. So I think what we saw over the last few years once rates started to go up, you saw the local investor prevail. Their buying only went down, I think John Burns said it was 37% versus the institutions were almost at 90% in terms of new acquisitions. So I feel like those local investors will continue to find deals just like what we talked about on these off- market deals, and I feel like that's going to continue. So I just think the big institutions are feast or famine and they go all in and they're just hot and cold. But I feel like we're going to have more investors out there at the larger regional level or a larger local level, as well as your everyday investor's still looking to put capital to play. So I feel like we're going to see similar things that we're seeing right now where inventory is short and there's less deal- making opportunities, but there's still a lot of capital ready to go. So you're seeing probably better than anybody of how much capital is being deployed. But from an agency perspective, we're still seeing a lot of action. There just so happens to be a lot of real estate agents out there, but it's the ones that can figure out how to do repeat business with investors, which we'll get to. That's where I'm seeing a lot of action happen versus the owner- occupants that are stuck on 2.5% mortgages and they're just not going anywhere. So the smart agents are going to figure out how to work with those investors that are local and build relationships to use that capital you guys have ready to go.

Nate Trunfio: Do you think that institutional aggregator type buyers are going to continue to persist and be a big part? I mean, they're not necessarily a big part because, to your point, I think smaller mom- and- pop investors and regionalized investors are actually a much larger piece of the pie, but do you think that institutional buyers are going to grow in their piece of the pie and market share, stay the same? I'm interested in your perspective.

Mark Woodling: It's hard to say right now when there's such a pause in buying and the cap rates are just not at the point that makes sense for these operators to begin investing again. But you read PricewaterhouseCoopers emerging, was that, Emerging Real Estate Trends report that came out in 2023 and the institutional space is supposed to 10X by 2030. So there's appetite from old- school investors, we'll call it, from 2010. They're not that old school, but there's a lot of new money that's still seeking to place money in the space and diversify, whether it's build to rent or build for rent, or it's these other unique scatterplot strategies. I just see there's something else out there that these companies have built in terms of processes and teams that are built to scale even more. So I think new capital's coming in, new fundraising's going to continue to come in, and they're just going to find at a point capital's cheap again and the numbers do pencil out to go all in again.

Nate Trunfio: It'll be interesting. I honestly don't know the answer to my own question on that one. I think there is, like you said, a lot of capital in the game. There's a lot of capital on the sidelines. It's still, investing in real estate hard assets is a phenomenal asset class that's been very resilient, and we'll have to see what the future beholds. So I want to jump in, really spend a lot of time in your current world now looking at eXp and real estate agents, but I have this burning question based on the background and story you told that I have to ask you. So you said you were a licensed auctioneer or something along those lines. So please educate me and the listeners on what did you have to do to do that, and do you have to go through classes to talk really fast is what I'm really curious to hear?

Mark Woodling: Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. This is the story, and I'll tell you the short version. But I started at Xome. It was 2013, and they said we're putting this auction group together. All the business was going to auction. com. And they said we're going to build it in- house. And actually the CEO of auction. com said, " Hey, you should talk to Mark Woodling. He can help you put this team together." But to get the auction platform going, you have to have an auctioneer's license and then in certain states, 30 roughly of the 50, you have to be licensed in those to sell real estate through auction. But you have to get licensed in one first and then there's significant reciprocity. So you could just basically sign forms, get signed up. But just so happens across the street in Lewisville, Texas was the Texas Auction Academy. A guy named Mike Jones was teaching the school, still is. And you had to go through 83 hours to become an auctioneer. So every morning you get there and you warm that voice up, $ 1 bid, $ 2 bid, $ 3 bid, $ 4 bid, 5, go up, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. You're just counting the whole time. And then you count backwards. So 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. And I'm like, " What am I doing? I'm going to start for an online auction company and I have to go through this for two full hours a day." And they taught you tongue twisters, but they were just getting you in this repetitious mode of not thinking but being able to count. So when you're in the auction room, you're going up, the numbers just come real quickly. But you actually had to study a lot about auction law, different furniture that you may sell at antique auctions, different types of cows in the world, tobacco auctions, all these different things. Like, " Goodness, I just want to get to the real estate part." That's about how to become an auctioneer in all 50 states across the country. I was waiting for that class and it never came around. But yes, 83 hours of a lot of tongue twisters, a lot of counting. And then they would take you to auto auctions and let you see it firsthand and you got to go out there and watch and get up on the stage and try and do the chants as they say. So yes, I am still a licensed auctioneer in Texas, which people think big boots, big hat, big personality. And I just carry around a little card and say I'm an online auctioneer actually.

Nate Trunfio: But I can still do a tongue twister very fast. And no, it sounds like you still got it, man. But I appreciate you helping me scratch that itch because I was sort of dying to know what it looks like under the hood there, man. So that's pretty cool and appreciate you sharing.

Mark Woodling: The nickname that they... We thought you had to have a nickname to be an auctioneer. So my buddy filled out my paperwork, I filled out his. We showed up for auction school and they're like, " Maverick Woodling." I'm like, " Oh, that's a good name. I like that." So my buddy came up with that. That's my auctioneer name. And he was Shooter Hall, Trevor Shooter Hall. So got Shooter and Maverick that ran the show back then.

Nate Trunfio: I wonder where that came from? No, that's awesome, man. That's a good story there. So let's talk eXp. Big transition for you coming from a great marketplace platform, but getting back to what it seems like sort of your home in working with real estate agents. So why did you make the move to eXp? What's sort of different about eXp? Give me a little bit of the why.

Mark Woodling: Sure. So the last four years, I was working at Roofstock, which is a marketplace for single- family investors, whether it's your out- of- state investor or your institutional investors. And they really acted as a brokerage to simplify the buying process. I was actually overseeing their third- party agent network. Although we were a brokerage, we didn't have the boots on the ground. But I oversaw that agent network over two and a half years. And I saw a lot of really great inefficiencies, I would say, to dealing with real estate agents, especially those that are investor- centric. There weren't that many out there in the market that were really easy to build relationships with. They worked for property managers, maybe their own small little brokerage, and they created a niche that was so defined. And they were doing well because they knew that there's repeat business and that they can form relationships with out- of- state investors, not have to do drive- bys, not have to really go through the emotional buying process. So all the way up to the institutions that at the time were just buying machines or even selling. But I knew that there was something special because when I was hiring most of the agents to be a part of our referral network that they were coming from eXp. So I had to dig further. And just at the same time, an old contact of mine had started at eXp and he was the chief strategy officer, Leo Pareja. And I said to Leo, I was like, " Wait, you run this referral engine and you have different lines within eXp that oversee REO, oversee Relo and they act as a liaison to a certain industry and large clients." I said, " You should do this for institutions and other large investor service providers because there's going to be more interest over time in creating these relationships between buyer, sellers and agents, but there's inefficiencies of really creating synergistic relationships, whether it's discounted commission structures or unique tasks that you don't do for owner- occupant type homes." So I said to Leo, " Listen, we could build this in- house. This is how we would do it." And he was all ears because he oversees all the different business lines that have to do with referrals. So anyways, I came on about four months ago, and what I am dialed in on is identifying those agents that I saw when I was at Roofstock and really bottling them up and presenting them to industries that need efficiencies, need an agent that can scale, or have the speed or the systems in place to be able to deliver to those unique clients. And then we can pre- negotiate some commission structures to make it work when it comes to volume. So when you have a large position to acquire or sell properties, we can create efficiencies and training and different things. So I just knew that there was something special at eXp because the agents were here, but we just needed a more formal way to organize them and create these referral opportunities so they could do the good work they're doing, but really connect to different industries that had this need of repeat buying and selling especially.

Nate Trunfio: No, that's awesome, man. So as you listen to this and you're like, " Oh, I just wish I had a real estate agent that knew real estate investors and could help me," eXp's the way to go. So my question is why and how is eXp become called the top investor- based agent brokerage in the nation? Educate us there.

Mark Woodling: Sure. Well, they have almost 80,000 agents across the United States. So you take this subset, it could be 2%, 3% of that entire base that are very investor- friendly agents. That's a powerful number. So it's not that this is what we do. We have luxury. We have our Relo space. We have so many different lines where agents just can be themselves. They can come in and find a place. And being a virtual company, there isn't this brick- and- mortar office where you have to show up and do your lunch and learns. And everybody gives. And so it's a very connected group of agents. And when there's a specialty, those agents tend to congregate together. So it's been very easy for me to come in and say, " Hey, here's what I'm looking to do," and all of a sudden these agents just pop up and say, " Hey, I can help you," or, " Hey, you should talk to these 10 agents, or, " I have a team of a hundred agents that these 10 do this really well." So again, back to it's not that this is all we do, it's we have a very specific group within eXp that knows what to do and actually has a lot of the relationships already in with these institutions or different private capital. It's now just a matter of formalizing those relationships and offering up a national solution with all those agents.

Nate Trunfio: No, it certainly helps explain the why and you can start to better understand as you listen sort of why it's important to make sure that you're dealing with an agent that is investor specialist and focused. Can you talk a little bit more about how you're envisioning ensuring that agents that work with investors, I think you use certification or that's a route that you're going, as well as some of the specific value props that you're looking to roll out and already probably have in some realms? You mentioned some commission reductions, sort of how and why that works. If you don't mind getting a little more detail so listeners can better understand.

Mark Woodling: Yeah, so think of me as a client manager to, let's use you guys as a company that we could really do some great things together and is in the works.

Nate Trunfio: Yep.

Mark Woodling: We want to build a... What we have is a monolithic brokerage model in the first place. Let's clear that real quick because I know you and I have talked about...

Nate Trunfio: Well, you got to define that because you're way smarter than me. You said that to me a couple weeks ago. I had to Google it. So Mr. Google himself, what does that actually mean?

Mark Woodling: Yeah, just think of it as easy decision- making as one unit. We are not a franchise model. That is not the way we roll because with that comes power in decision- making that lies in the franchise. And this really unifies a company because we have a CEO, we have chief strategy officer, and then down the line you have specific decision- makers that are organizing these great relationships. So that means we have one agreement in place. We have a simple approach for how we work together and train, and if you need anything, you come to me and then I relay that to agents. So it really simplifies messaging, which as you know in the world of real estate, things move very quickly, people communicate through a lot of different means and communication channels, but we have the relationship in place so if these agents want to work with the relationship, they have to work through us. We don't just hand them off to you and say, " Hey, go have fun. This is going to be a blast. You're going to all work and call Nate whenever you need something." No, that doesn't work that way. You work through us. We take the professional approach and make sure you get what you need and we've outlined all those things very easily. But what that really comes back to is that your borrowers, as you the service provider, your borrowers are the ones that can really take advantage of the relationship. And we're structuring this around how to make agents win and how to make these investors win. And by simplifying a structure, let's say on a commission where we say, " Hey, if you both fix and acquire a property, we'll call it the acquisition and disposition. If you acquire, fix up a property, and then dispose of it and you want to use the same agent, you're going to earn the benefits of a discounted commission model because that agent has already done a deal with you and they want that flip." So they know the property, they helped you acquire it, they're not in it and out, but we're building these long- term relationships that your borrowers could say, " Hey, I do need a better agent because the last one maybe didn't work out so well or I do want to make the numbers work a bit better. How can we do that?" And that's where we're brainstorming at a different level right now because we're seeing it from a national perspective and saying, " What do our borrowers need? What do our agents need?" So you're bringing me referrals to our agents, and then they're meeting with high- quality investors that are doing sometimes two deals in a very short period of time. So win- win for everybody. And you and I get to look really good at the same time.

Nate Trunfio: No, I think it's important. Hopefully, again, people better understand monolithic. But I think what you're explaining here, it gives this additional, whether it's economies of scale, pricing power, nationwide reach, whereas, as you said, most brokerages run that franchise model, and so there's a vested interest to the franchisor per se. But at the same time, everybody is more acute to taking care of their franchise, whereas eXp is one big happy family built off of relationships and then areas of expertise, which is just amazing, and you have to have it, an organization the size and scale that you guys do. But I think as people listen to this and especially as you cross over a bunch of territory or you're in one specific market, you can see why eXp not only is big, but they also then focus in on specializing in specific areas such as investor- focused. Did I explain that? Did I do a good eXp pitch there, I guess?

Mark Woodling: You nailed it. You nailed it. I'm four months into the company, so I'm listening to what others are saying about the company from the outside because it gives me perspective on what my thoughts are versus others. So yeah, you covered it.

Nate Trunfio: Awesome, man. So I mean, you're no newbie to working with real estate agents that are investor- focused. It's interesting you threw out a stat, because I'm going to steal it and use 2 to 3% of agents are investor specialists and maybe even that's a higher population at eXp than at other brokerages or nationwide. But why? Why is it such a small percent? What's the differentiation that investor- focused agents have versus a retail agent?

Mark Woodling: Well, it's repeat business. And I pulled up a stat that I've used in some other presentations and I'll just read it off real quick. But per NAR, the average homeowner stays in a home for 13 years. And I know that's a number that's moving and shaking all the time. Well, that's interesting, but that means that's one property at a time. You're dealing with somebody, and especially now with lower interest rates, that number's probably going to go up a lot higher. Well, the average investor is holding a property for 10 years. Okay? That's a number we found. And you're also buying two to three properties sometimes at a given time. So when the times are good and maybe there's a life change or somebody did sell a property, they're doing 1031 exchange, there's more transactions that are happening with these repeat buyers and the repeat business. So I think that's number one. But the second part is if you can work with somebody that, again, is making these logical decisions that aren't emotionally driven about I have to be in a home next to the church, next to the grocery store and all the things that I want for that perfect life, you remove a lot of barriers. You're finding properties that pencil out the numbers make work. And I just think that logical decision- making approach becomes a lot easier. But hey, investors can be a lot of work too. They can push you to the end, especially if you're on the East Coast and they're in California and calling you seven o'clock their time, it's 10 o'clock your time. As an agent, you have different expectations. And I think being set up for success means you know that next deal is coming and that one investor could turn out to be multiple deals versus using your sphere of influence that most agents understand that's how you get your next deal. You go to church and your next deal comes out of church. This is getting on BiggerPockets and being an active role, or playing an active role on the forum style and giving a lot of information before you get it. And I think that's what puts you out there, where investors are known to take. They say, " Hey, you have MLS, I'm going to ask a lot of you." But in the end, I think if you know your numbers, you're doing deals, you're hanging out in the right places, you're giving, you know investors are going to find your name and information and make something of it. So I just feel like the investor space, whether it is 1, 2%, it could be higher just based on what percentage of deals that you do with an investor. It's not going to be 100%. It usually isn't. But there are people that just do all their business there. But I think knowing that you remove emotions and strip down to get down to a deal, it's fun, especially for those agents that are investors themselves, that this is kind of the world they live in and what they love to do. So nothing better than that.

Nate Trunfio: No, again, you're crystallizing this very much for me personally, so I know listeners as well. But the inner salesperson inside of me, it's not about selling, it's about getting people to buy. When do people buy? People buy off emotions. And therefore, that's why a lot of retail agents are just driven to put themselves in the right positions, create these spheres of influence, and then run a sales process based around the needs that are emotionally driven. But there's that component of still always needing that element for anybody in sales, but also the analytical side that you referenced there that I guess that, again, that's crystallized as one of the key differentiators. So I want you to even go a little deeper. Earlier in the show, you referenced, you said the word unique tasks. You said investor real estate agents have unique tasks that others may not understand or the people, retail buyers don't need and those types of things. So can you specify some of that for us? What are some of those unique tasks that an investor- focused real estate agent does?

Mark Woodling: Sure. Thinking about it on the institutional side, the institutions typically have, let's say on the buy side, a team of underwriters. They're just combing deals on the MLS looking at off- market deals. They only need the agents for a very specific number of items that are going to help them get the deal done. But the agents are the ones that know the market, are looking for risks and really helping get a deal done because they know who the listing agent is. They're presenting offers that they know there's a relationship there that's really important. So I would say condensing those tasks and then getting paid based off those limited tasks is something that many agents either don't want to give up where the commission goes from, let's say 2. 5% down to 1%, but you're writing 30 offers and two of those get accepted every other day. There's some value in those numbers. So I would say on the acquisition side for institutions, there's very much a limited role there. Some may say, " Hey, I need you to go buy the property, I need you to do every piece every step of the way." That is up to each institution. I would say on the disposition side, that's something we see a lot more because these institutions are starting to sell off parts of their portfolio, maybe exiting a market in general, or the market is, " Hey, I just need to get rid of these problematic properties," and they're trimming off. Well, they don't have in- house disposition teams. So they're saying, " Agent, you're going to do it all. You're going to do property preservation, you're going to re- key the property, you're going to have your own general contractor go out and bid the property, you're going to oversee all those repairs." That's a lot of work. So if you come from the REO industry, you're like, " Oh, been here, done that. This is par for the course." That's what scares a lot of people away because they need to balance out how much time and effort they put into a property versus what that return's going to look like and even how much money comes out the agent's pocket because they may have to front some of that cash, which is expensive. So to put out that capital outlay. But when it comes to your everyday investor getting down to the retail level, it depends. There could be out- of- state investors. But at the local level, I don't see it being that different than your traditional real estate experience you may have buying your own house besides somebody that can do numbers with you, that can run comps, do as is versus after repair values. So I would just say there's going to be different tasks, but from a retail investing perspective, buying one or two homes every few months, I don't think it's going to be that different.

Nate Trunfio: Sure. No, it's interesting perspective because always going to be some similarities just given the nature of the role, but a lot of different unique tasks as you articulated. But that those unique tasks are depicted by the size, shape, profile of the investors that you work with and really understanding their needs and then making sure that you deliver on that. That's sort of the end all, be all and being a good service provider and sales representative. So I want to, it's completely unscripted, so I want to make this up on the fly here. I want to play a game called Stump the Maverick Woodling. So I'm going to ask you a couple of questions that I'm curious on. And if you don't have the answer, by all means say it. No harm or foul there. But how many real estate agents are there in the country?

Mark Woodling: Oh, I had that number. I think it's 1. 6 million. I'll have to look it up, but I think it's somewhere around that. It's significant. And during times of boom times, that number goes up. And when times slow down, that number gets a little bit skinnier. So I would say I haven't paid attention to the latest numbers, but it's significant.

Nate Trunfio: Whatever that answer is, that is way more accurate than I would have no clue how to answer it. I do know there's anywhere from 320,000 to 400, 000 licensed mortgage loan officers out there, although that's not the most relevant thing, but that's about all I know. So here's one that I don't even know if there's data on, but I'm just interested in your sort of gut answer on this. If you were to guess, how many deals per year does an investor- focused agent do?

Mark Woodling: That's a great question. With my experience, it's very regional because your California investor is a fix- and- flipper. They're not buy and hold type real estate investors in the sense of buying locally as much. That just hasn't been a thing as of recently. But I would say when you get to the markets where you're talking the Phoenix areas, the Vegas areas, Texas and start to go through the Southeast and up a little bit, I would say your typical investor- centric agent is definitely going to clear, I would say 30. I hear the number 30 properties a good bit on the investment side. And of course, they're going to have their own owner opt type deals. But to me that's a healthy number because they're doing the deals. This is their deal, not their team and counting different numbers. And once you get above that, I mean there's a machine. You have assistants, you have VAs, you have all the people doing your open houses for you, and there's a different type of scale. But I would say for the majority, you're going to fall into that 30- plus. But once you get to the big numbers, I mean, one of our agent's, his name's John Scalia. I just pulled up his numbers the other day. He's the number one agent at eXp. He's already done as of a month ago, it was$ 300 million in closed volume in 2023. And so do the math real quick. These are all his deals. He's the guy involved. He's just a machine. So do that quick math, 300 divided by, let's say 350k on average. That's 857 deals in 2023.

Nate Trunfio: That's a lot for a sort of single producer. I'm sure there's some team support there, but that's impressive, man. No, I knew I would never stump the Maverick, but I figured I'd make you get the wheels turning here. So I got one last one and this one gives you a 50/ 50 chance, so I like your odds on it. If you were to guess, real estate investors use real estate agents more on the buy or the sell side?

Mark Woodling: Well, good question. A few different angles to that. They are definitely using on the buy side. I had a stat, if you're talking investors as institutions as well and all across the board.

Nate Trunfio: Any way you want to answer it. I'm putting you on the spot, so any way you want to answer.

Mark Woodling: Yeah. NAR put out a report about a year ago that was like 59% of all the acquisitions from institutions were done with real estate agents. So it's just a cool number to keep in mind. A lot of those institutions, they've slimmed up in terms of their internal staff because they realized they could pay per transaction, use agents. So I think on the buy side, having that local agent is so important. Again, back to my point about when that offer is presented, it's coming through a real estate agent who has some pull, and typically there's trust between agents of like, " Hey, this agent isn't messing around, they're going to get this deal done for me, and go to work." So I don't know. I think on the buy side, of course you're going to see a lot, but then you have off- market deals. On the sell side, it's bad form, I would say, to sell your own property ever. You need that representation when it comes down to seller's disclosures. You want to make sure you have somebody that's helping guide you through the process and be that liaison. So I would say it's the sell side just because there's so many off- market deals that happen that you don't always need an agent for those off- market deals the way that institutions and other investors will go to a New Western, for example, and just go right to the source, get the deals done. So yeah, I would say I'm leaning there.

Nate Trunfio: So that makes sense. Again, I appreciate you going through this Stump the Maverick with me because this is just completely created on the spot here. But that answer makes sense based on you should have representation. So my interpretation of your answer is the sell side, but it's more important to make sure that you have a investor- focused and specialized real estate agent on the buy side, which is sort of what I take away from what you just articulated there, man. So no, this has been fun and covering a lot of ground and clearly you showing why you follow not only your experience but your passion to eXp and are helping real estate agents and investors sort of nationwide. But anything that you want to leave the audience with as you look into your magic crystal ball here in the future for whether you're an investor or an agent, anything you want to sort of advise the listener?

Mark Woodling: Listen, I just took over a whole other division within eXp called ExpressOffers, and it is a marketplace for investors to see listings that are off market that need a quick cash convenient offer. And I'm going to be seeing a lot of unique properties come through that. And I think that's where it's a cool opportunity to come to you and say, " Hey, we're working only with cash offers right now because we want the deals to go forward." But you should be there with me to say, " Hey Mark, look at all these great investors that I work with that should have access to those deals." I really want to find new ways to show how strong capital is and how the leverage that you all provide and the certainty of your underwriting is just bar none. And that we should be looking at cash deals almost as easy as, or your money's easier because it's just there's a lot more of it than cash out there, that we could really just break down barriers to do more deals together. So yeah, I would just say the relationship is young. We're going to do some cool things together, but I would love to just brainstorm with you to get your feedback because you've stumped me. I can't wait for the day I get to stump you a little bit and crack that code a little bit.

Nate Trunfio: Well, you've already done that with at least the word monolithic, but now everybody should be educated on that. But Mark, man, no, excited for Lima and eXp to continue to explore partnership opportunities. But I think at the crux of all of this, it's important to know real estate, to be specialized in real estate investing, whether you're an agent, whether you're an investor yourself, and then most importantly, make sure you have good relationships because it's important to understand the velocity and the acceleration that you can have in any one individual realm of growth when you have good relationships and people around you, man. And we've been blessed with you here, Mark. So appreciate all that you've dropped here, covering a lot of ground, man. And I know that we will be speaking soon and thank you for your time here as well.

Mark Woodling: Nate, great job. Appreciate all the peppering. And don't remember the name Maverick. I go by Mark again now, but one day Maverick may ride again.

Nate Trunfio: Thanks, Mark. I appreciate it, man.

Mark Woodling: All right. See you, thanks.

Nate Trunfio: Thanks again to our expert guest, Mark Woodling from eXp. Appreciate the time and knowledge that you dropped here. Please make sure that you subscribe, like, and engage with all things on The Real Estate of Things, and you can always find us at our website, www. realestateofthings. com. We will catch you next time.


Your next high-quality investment deal is right in front of you, but you might miss it if you’re not going all in on your relationships. This week we’re joined by Mark Woodling, Director of Institutional Investment Services at eXp Realty, who crystalizes the value of developing and cultivating relationships with real estate agents to close high-quality real estate investing deals. 

Nate and Mark talk about how the deals are out there, but real estate agents need to continue specializing in their craft and continue providing value to their clients and investors who are in their circle. 

Join us as we discuss:

  • How to create a win/win for agents and real estate investors
  • The importance of agents bringing value to clients to make logical decisions that removes barriers 
  • How real estate agents can set themselves up for success by giving valuable information before they ask for a deal