With more than 25 years of expertise in global real estate and finance—and a career that includes transactions in excess of a billion dollars—Michael Valdes serves as president of eXp Global, a cloud-based company, and the fastest-growing real estate firm in the country that saw 56% agent growth and 103% revenue growth last year. With the skill and insight as the former senior VP of Global Servicing for Realogy Corporation who oversaw the international servicing platform for all Realogy brands including Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Better Homes & Garden, Corcoran, Climb and Sotheby’s International Realty in 113 countries for 15 years, Michael took the helm eXp Global in September 2020. Despite a global pandemic, he’s led the company’s historic expansion into five countries in just two months—a first for the real estate industry. And he’s not done yet. With a footprint in nine countries already, including the newest entrants of South Africa, India, Mexico, Portugal, and France, eXp Global expects to add four more offices in new global markets by the end of Q1 this year.
An industry leader on the forefront of one of the most innovative real estate companies in world, Michael’s success extends far beyond the walls of eXp. He has the distinction of being the first Latino director of Deutsche Bank in the United States at the age of 25. He is an author, a motivational speaker, an international business expert, a visionary leader, and the founder and host of the popular Global Luxury Real Estate Mastermind podcast, which has gained over 1.5 million listeners monthly across 70 countries just since its launch in January 2020. We had the privilege of talking with Michael about the secret of his success, and that of eXp Global, and his motivation to start one of the most popular podcasts in the industry.
Tell us a little bit more about eXp Global and your role with the company.
We are a $5 billion market cap company that carries zero debt and is fully cloud based. We have no brick-and-mortar offices anywhere in the world. Our agents are avatars and operate in a technology-based virtual platform. I’m in charge of the company’s global expansion, so my team and I strategize on the best countries to expand into to continue the strength of building a global network. In a two-month span of time this year we opened South Africa, India, Mexico, Portugal, and France without ever jumping on a plane.
To what do you attribute the astounding growth of eXp Global?
Our growth has been a combination of things. I’m building a global brand, so I look at expansion in a very strategic way, but also with an eye on building a sense of community both within each of our global offices and across eXp Global. I think part of our success has been that we cater to the country that we’re entering into. We become a local company there, rather than a franchise. We own everything that we do, so we set up a corporation in every country we’re in, hire a broker in that country and a country leader to lead the operations. Each office has small teams of five to 12 people who live locally. Our innovative platform and business model that we offer agents is also a driving force of our growth, where we actually allow our agents to become their own brand, and then eXp becomes the platform under which they conduct business.
How does your previous experience as a global real estate leader and as an agent help drive not only the successful expansion of eXp Global, but the success of your agents worldwide?
While I certainly rely on my expertise in global real estate and finance to direct the strategy of our expansion, I also draw from my five years of experience as a real estate agent. I started my career as a luxury agent in 2005, and then led my own team, which was ranked number one for the entire state of Florida for production. That experience allows me to look at growth from the perspective of our brokers and agents because I know firsthand the challenges that somebody is going through to open an office and be successful in the real estate industry—wherever they’re located. I had that skill set that allowed me to teach others, and I think that’s driving the success of our expansion, and the success of our agents in our 13 global offices. I know what my clients, my agents are experiencing because I lived it.
Tell us about your incredibly popular podcast, Global Luxury Real Estate Mastermind. What inspired you to start it and what does it offer?
I was doing a lot of mentorship with people entering the real estate business. My greatest thrill is seeing somebody else succeed, and, for me, I wasn’t touching enough people, so I started the podcast to reach more people to help to inspire and elevate them. The podcast is about the luxury real estate industry on a global scale in general terms, and they’re centered around conversations with friends of mine and thought leaders across the world who share candid and useful stories of how they achieved their success. I’ve interviewed brokers, owners, agents, developers, interior designers, real estate attorneys. It comes from all angles, and it really is about looking at the luxury real estate industry through different lenses. I think that’s also what makes it interesting. I’ve interviewed the president of Berkshire Hathaway, the presidents of some Sotheby’s franchises, brand presidents, top agents in the world, some of the guys from Million Dollar Listing, and everyone has a different perspective.
Why do you think so many people are gravitating toward your podcast?
Very humbly, I think it’s because it’s real. I think people can relate to it because I am talking to my friends. It’s grown so quickly, but I’ve never interviewed someone that I didn’t know. That’s a big part of what makes it a real conversation, and not a lecture. The podcast isn’t just about, “What have you done in real estate?” You don’t learn anything from someone reading off their résumé. The idea behind it is to learn from it. I ask them about their greatest lessons, failures—that’s where the conversation gets interesting. When you’re listening to it, you’re learning about them as people, and how they succeeded, and their careers, but also how they, as people, accomplished this.
Will you share a few of your favorite podcast episodes?
It’s so hard to choose, but I’ll share a few that have stayed with me.
Darren Jacklin, “Ripple of Impact.” He has one of the most amazing stories. He sits on the board of eXp. He was dyslexic as a child, but was misdiagnosed as mentally challenged and made to undergo 12 years of special education. He has gone on to coach over a million people and 157 of the top Fortune 500 companies have used him. He’s a brilliant man. He overcame so much, and the greatest lesson is that you reprogram your own script.
Hisashi Kitami, “Live from Tokyo.” That was one of my favorites because it was a live interview that I did in Toyoko right before the pandemic. The entire interview is in Japanese with translators. It truly was global. He owns the baseball team in Tokyo, but he’s also one of the largest developers. He taught me discipline. He is a triathlete, and he’s run in the New York marathon every single year.
Glenn Sanford, founder of eXp, “Be a Mono-Maniac on a Mission.” He calls me a “mono-maniac.” He taught me about vision. He has the most innate ability to create things in his head and have them reach fruition. I mean, who creates a virtually realty platform where every agent is an avatar—11 years ago? He’s an absolute genius. He’s like the Steve Jobs of our era right now. He just doesn’t stop thinking.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
I do! “The world is vast—so let's start thinking about it that way.”
President — eXp Global