Down 80%, Is This Game-Changing Real Estate Stock a Buy?

Down 80%, Is This Game-Changing Real Estate Stock a Buy?

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

Volatile markets are filled with buying opportunities. The stock market as a whole, as measured by the broad S&P 500 index, is down by about 17% so far this year, but high-growth tech stocks are down even more drastically. Meaning there are loads of stocks on sale right now that have lots of potential.

One real estate stock that I’ve been watching closely is eXp World Holdings (EXPI -4.47%), the first and only 100% virtual brokerage. It is changing the real estate brokerage game by offering a new — and in many respects, better — way for agents to do business.

Thanks to the tech sell-off earlier this year and growing concern over the start of the real estate market, the stock is down more than 80% from its 2021 high after it got crushed along with lots of other growth and tech stocks. With such a steep drop, let’s take a closer look at if this company is a buy.

Revolutionizing the brokerage business

Unlike established real estate brokerages like Remax, Keller Williams Realty, or Coldwell Banker Real Estate, eXp World Holdings has no physical offices. It operates 100% remotely and in the cloud. Everything from meetings and training to marketing resources and closing procedures is handled online. But that’s not the only thing that makes the company different.

It passes the savings of having no rent or office overhead on to its agents. Most brokerages offer agents a 60/40 split on each transaction — the brokerage gets 40% of the sales commission. By contrast, eXp offers a much more generous 80/20 split.

The company also has tons of incentives, including a revenue-sharing structure that allows its agents to earn a percentage of the sales made by agents they recruited. It also has caps on how much agents have to pay the brokerage after a certain sales volume is reached, ultimately allowing agents to earn more the more transactions they conduct.

This unique structure is precisely why the company is the fastest growing brokerage in the world right now, with over 80,000 agents in its network on six continents. Since 2016, the number of agents in its network has grown at an annualized rate of 55%, and it is still expanding.

Can eXp keep growing?

The company’s business model is clearly appealing to agents, but can it keep growing? I feel there are a lot of reasons it can. Its incentive-based recruitment program motivates agents to stick with eXp for the long haul because it provides them with extra passive income.

Agents also receive stock-based incentives instead of monetary bonuses for reaching certain milestones, which further motivates them to stick around as shareholders. The company is expanding into new countries. Its latest market is Chile, and this month, it closed its acquisition of Canada-based Zoocasa Realty — a consumer real estate search portal and brokerage — to help improve its lead sources for its agents. It’s also actively investing in the metaverse.

In the first quarter, the company took in a record $1 billion in revenue with its gross profit growing by 56% year over year to $83.5 million, and its net income increasing by 86% to $8.9 million. Plus the company has no debt and $130 million in cash and cash equivalents on the books. Couple that with its $202 million operating cash flow, and it’s in a strong position to fund further growth.

So what’s the downside?

Share dilution was a concern for me at first and has been the primary reason I have waited to buy shares in the stock. As eXp steadily issues more equity to its agents, that could dilute the value of the previously circulating stock. Since 2015, its share count has risen by 53%.

But eXp has a program dedicated to buying back shares to keep its share ratios in balance. In Q1, it increased its share repurchase program to $500 million. Right now, it seems well equipped to keep the program going, though there’s no guarantee it couldn’t become a problem in the future if the brokerage isn’t able to keep up with share repurchasing.

The company got started just after the Great Recession when real estate was starting to make a huge comeback. In the last two years in particular, the housing market was on fire, and a record number of real estate agents got their licenses in 2021. But the real estate market looks like it’s cooling, and transaction volume is already dropping.

A slumping real estate market isn’t good for eXp’s business, but given its financial position, it’s not a cause for major concern. Its price-to-earnings ratio is around 24, which is notably higher than its real estate brokerage peers, but one of the company’s lowest P/E ratios since going public.  While short-term headwinds could slow the company’s growth, I don’t think they will be enough to cause it to lose steam for the long haul, which is why I think it’s a great buy today.


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