REAL Broker vs eXp Realty: Which Is Right For You

Written By Malcolm Lawson

When you say the phrase “cloud-based brokerage” most real estate agents immediately think of eXp Realty!

However, there is a new cloud-based rival that is quickly building momentum and giving eXp and the industry as a whole a run for their money and that company is REAL Broker.

Your first instinct may to say “so they are just copying eXp?”.

Well, I see REAL as a second-generation cloud brokerage. They saw what was working at eXp and what was not working and made what they see as improvements to the model.

Sort of like how the Blackberry was the first smartphone and Apple looked at what worked and what did not work and came out with their iPhone, which was a second-generation smartphone. 

And to this point, I would say you don’t always want to be the first to market with a new business model. Sometimes being the 2nd or 3rd generation of that model is more beneficial.

Keller Williams Realty WAS NOT the first franchised-based real estate company or even the second or even the third but they adapted that model, improved on it, and are now the largest real estate company in the world by agent count because of it.

However, Keller Williams Realty WAS THE FIRST to offer revenue share to it’s agents for attracting other agents to the company. eXp went on to adopt an improved version of revenue share into their model and REAL has gone to implement a 3rd generation version of revenue share into its own business model (more on that later).

When I was deciding what cloud-based brokerage I personally wanted to join, I dove in pretty deep researching and talking with agents at each. This article is the product of my intensive research.

So in this article, I want to go over the benefits of the two largest cloud brokerages REAL Broker & eXp Realty to help real estate agents make an educated decision on which cloud-based brokerage to join.

NOTE: All numbers & stats were taken from this EXP Realty Presentation and this REAL Broker Sign Up Page.

REAL Broker vs eXp Realty.jpeg

Today we are going to do a side-by-side comparison of the following categories:

  • Commission Cap

  • Commission Splits

  • Fee’s

  • Stock Bonuses

  • Revenue Share

  • Software Included

  • Potential For Growth

REAL Broker VS EXP Realty Commission Cap

Being that both brokerages are cloud-based, the companies save a huge amount of money every year compared to franchise-based companies and can pass those savings on to their agents in the form of lower commission caps.

EXP Realty has a $16,000 a year cap

REAL Broker has a $12,000 cap

So this one is pretty cut and dry. As far as which company has the lower cap, this round goes to REAL Broker who will be charging you $4,000 less a year.

REAL Broker VS EXP Realty Commission Splits

Commission splits percentages may not be relevant to agents who do a good bit of volume and know they are going to cap every year. All this really affects is WHEN in the year you will cap.

However, having a more generous split can take off some of the financial pressure your business may feel at the start of the year.

However, Splits are VERY relevant to newer agents or part-time agents who may not cap at all.

If someone is only doing 3–4 transactions a year and never fully caps, having a better split percentage means they keep MORE MONEY in their pockets.

EXP Realty has an 80/20 split

REAL Broker has a 15/85 Split.

Again, this one is pretty clear to call, this round goes to REAL Broker who gives its agents a better split ratio than eXp does and most other brokerages do.

REAL Broker VS EXP Realty Fee’s

Fee’s are another way brokerages make money off of their agents and it is important to pay attention to all the fees a brokerage is charging its real estate agents.

On top of its annual cap, EXP Realty also charges:

  • $149 Start-Up Fee

  • $85 A Month Cloud Brokerage Fee

  • $25 Transaction review fee

  • $40 Risk Management Fee Per Transaction (Caps at $500)

  • $250 Transaction Fee After You Cap

eXp REALTY caps and commision splits.png

On top of its annual cap, REAL Broker also charges:

  • $149 Sign-Up Fee

  • $500 Annual Fee

  • $225 Transaction Fee After You Cap

REAL Broker, llc splits and commision splits.png

REAL VS eXp Cap & Fee Scenario

So let’s run a quick scenario.

let’s say you are a solo agent and close 20 transactions a year at an average price point of $400,000 which is $8,000,000 in volume & $240,000 in GCI at an average commission of 3%.

  • At eXp you would pay $85 a month for 12 months which is $1,020 a year
  • You would pay a $25 review fee on 20 transactions which would be $500/yr
  • You would pay a $40 risk management fee which caps at $500
  • eXp will take 20% of each commission which is an average of $2,400 until you pay them $16,000 & which means you would cap after 7 transactions. So you would then pay $250 per transaction on the remaining 13 transactions which is $3,250.

So if you add up $1,020 + $500+ $500+$3,250 that is $5,270 in fees on top of your $16,000 cap. Add it all up and it will cost you $21,270 a year to sell 20 homes a year at eXp.

  • At REAL you have a $500 annual fee
  • With an 85/15 split you would give up on average $1,800 commission. With a $12,000 cap it means you would cap after 5 transactions and pay the $225 transaction fee on 15 transactions which is $3,375

So if you add up the $500+ $3,375 it would cost you $3,875 in fees on top of your $12k cap for a total of $15,875 a year to sell 20 homes at REAL.

So once you add up all the fees and caps, it is $5,395 cheap a year to sell 20 homes at REAL than it is to sell 20 homes a year at eXp.

REAL Broker & EXP Realty Stock Bonuses

Both companies are publicly traded companies and offer their agents multiple ways to earn free shares of the company by hitting certain milestones in their businesses.

eXp Realty offers its agents 5 ways to earn free stock within the company.

  • You earn some shares on your first transaction of each year

  • You earn shares when you cap

  • You earn shares when an agent you sponsor completes their first transaction

  • Earn $16,000 worth of shares by hitting their Icon Agent Award

  • Agent Equity Program allows you to purchase shares out of your commission at a 10% discount

eXp Realty stock program.png

REAL Broker offers its agents 4 paths to earning free stock in the company.

  • You earn stock by capping each year (the amount varies based on stock price & number of agents in brokerage)

  • You earn stock by attracting new agents to the company

  • You can earn $24,000 worth of stock by hitting their Elite Agent Award

  • Purchase stock out of your commission & receive up to 50% free additional shares with a max of $8,000 free stock a year.

REAL Broker stock program.png

Both brokerages have very similar stock incentive programs.

eXp does have 1 additional way of earning stock compared to REAL, however, REAL Broker offers a better bonus incentive for purchasing stock with your commission, and REAL offers its “Elite Agents” a higher award than EXP’s “ICON Agents” receive (although it is a little harder to hit Elite Agent then it is to hit ICON agent”.

For the question of who has a better stock incentive program, I am going to give this round to REAL Broker. A capping agent enrolled in the stock purchase plan will earn more free stock with REAL than they will with eXp.

REAL Elite Agent Vs eXp Icon Agent

Both companies give their top-producing agents awards in the form of stocks for hitting certain milestones in their real estate businesses. Let’s do a comparison of the two award programs.

eXp Icon Agent Explained

eXp Icon Agent receive up to $16,000 in stock total. This is broken down into 3 separate awards with specific requirements for reach.

  • $8,000 Production Award
  • $4,000 Cultural Commitment Award
  • $2,000 Event Attendance Award

3 ways to qualify for eXp Icon and receive the $8k production reward.

  1. Paying the $16k cap + $5,000 in post cap transaction fees. At $250 transaction fee, that means closing an additional 20 homes after you cap.
  2. Paying the $16k cap + $500k in GCI with at least 10 closed transactions and paying the “ICON Qualifying Fee”.  I could not find an exact amount for this fee but in their documents explaining this fee, they gave an example of it potentially being $1,400.
  3. If you have a team and you pay the $16,000 cap + your team pays $40,000 in “company dollars”. 


If you hit the production requirements, you are then eligible for the $4k Cultural Award which I believe they have a point system for. They explain the requirements for this as “Cultural Commitment – An opportunity for active ICONs to earn stock by “giving back” to company culture through time, talents, and knowledge, in eXp approved routes.”

By hitting the production requirements you are also eligible for the Event Attendance Award which they describe as “ICON Event Attendance Stock Awards Requirements: ICON agents have the opportunity to earn a stock award of up to an additional $4,000 worth of EXPI common stock in the month following attendance of eXp approved events; a stock award of $2,000 worth of EXPI common stock will be issued for each event attended.”

So total, if you hit the production awards, are involved in the community and provide training and attend specific events, you can receive up to $16,000 for hitting their Icon Agent Status.


REAL Broker’s Elite Agent Explained 

REAL Broker has a similar program called their Elite Agent Program.

REAL agents receive up to $24,000 in in free stock for hitting Elite Agent. This is broken down into a $16,000 Production Award and $8,000 Cultural Award.


There are two ways to receive the $16k Elite Agent Production Award

1.Pay $12k cap + $6k in post-transaction fees which is 27 transactions.

2.Pay $12k cap + earn $500,000 in GCI with at least 10 transactions.


After you hit Elite agent you are eligible for the $8k cultural award if you “Teach monthly topics at the REAL Academy, give back to the Real agent community, or give back to your local community.”


Quick Note: So REAL’s $16k production award is significantly higher than eXp’s $8k production reward but I do want to point out that you do need to close more transactions in order if you go the post-transaction route. In the example, I gave earlier with an average price point of $400k it would take you about 5 transactions to cap, and then you need another 27 transactions to hit Elite Agent for 32 total sales.

At eXp, you would cap at 7 transactions and then need another 20 transactions to hit their Icon Agent Status.  So you are looking at about 32 transactions at REAL vs 27 at eXp.

However, if you go their GCI route, you would need a few transactions at REAL and then eXp. Both companies require you to cap and then earn $500k in GCI on at least 10 transactions. And since REAL has a lower cap this would be easier to hit, with an average price point of $400,000 & 3% commission, you would need on average 2 fewer transactions at REAL than you would at eXp to hit this threshold.


So let’s run some more scenarios where we factor in the fees and the Icon/Elite agent award to see what the price difference would be.

Let’s say you close 35 transactions a year at an average price point of $400k &  an average of 3% commission.

At eXp, you would pay

  • $1,020 in monthly fees
  • $875 in transaction review fees
  • $500 in risk management fees
  • You don’t pay a transaction fee on the first 7 transactions but then pay $250 on transactions 8 through 27 and that gets reduced to $75 on transactions 27 through 35
  • $5,600 in transaction fees.
  • $16k Cap
  • Total cost is $23,995 to sell 35 homes a year

For hitting Icon agent you can receive up to $16,000 in free stock + $200 in stock for your first transaction of the year and $400 in stock for capping.

When you deduct the free stock from your cost of business it means you are only paying $7,395 a year to sell 35 homes at eXp.

AT REAL Broker you would pay

  • $500 annual fee
  • $12,000 cap
  • No transaction fee on your first 5 transactions, then $225 on the next 22 transactions, and then just $99 on the transaction 28 through 35 for a total of $5,643 in transaction fees which is almost identical to eXp.
  • Total cost is $18,143 to sell 35 homes at REAL

If you add in the $24,000 you receive for hitting Elite agent + 750 shares of stock for capping currently worth about $1,400 it means at REAL it would effectively cost you $0 to sell 35 homes a year and in fact, you would be up $7,257 a year. 

When you compare that to eXp where it would cost you $7,395 a year to sell the same number of homes.  That is an annual difference of $14,652.

 REAL Broker & EXP Realty Revenue Share Programs

Revenue share was first introduced by Keller Williams Realty to attract new agents and similar but more generous models was adopted by eXp Realty and a 3rd generation model by REAL Broker.

THIS SECTION IS WHERE eXp and REAL DIFFER GREATLY! Pay attention to this section, especially the fine print further below.

Revenue share rewards agents for attracting new agents to the company by paying them a portion of the new agent’s cap for as long as they are with the company.

These programs have huge potential for long-term wealth building if you can get in early on one of these companies.

eXp Realty Revenue Share Program

eXp offers its agents up to $2,800 a year for bringing in a new agent to the company out of that new agent’s $16,000 a year cap.

Any agent you directly bring in will be in your tier 1.

So if the agent you bring on then brings on another agent, that second agent will be in your tier 2 and so on.

Their revenue share program actually can go up to 7 tiers with various compensation for each tier. To unlock the rewards for all 7 of your tiers, you need to bring on 40+ qualifying agents in your tier 1. Qualifying agents means they need to be producing agents who are closing transactions.

exp realty revenue share explained.png

REAL Broker Revenue Share Program

REAL Broker offers a similar revenue share program except they give you $4,000 for every capping agent on your tier 1 you attract to the company.

You can receive an annual revenue share for up to 5 tiers deep and need to recruit at least 25 qualified agents to unlock all 5 tiers.

REAL Broker revenue share program.png

So comparing the two revenue share plans, you can see that REAL pays you MORE MONEY for your tier 1 agent than eXp.

This is a difference of $4,000 a year vs $2,800 a year for directly attracting an agent to the company. At REAL, your tiers 2, 3 & 4 also all payout MORE than EXPs does

Of course, eXp offers revenue share going 7 levels deep compared to REAL’s 5 levels.

In my opinion, REAL’s revenue share model is more profitable to the average agents who may have only a few people they have directly brought into the company. eXp’s revenue share is probably more profitable for a mega recruiter who may have several hundred or thousands of agents under them and fully unlocked all 7 tiers.

One goal, many agents have is to receive enough revenue share to cover the cost of their cap and essentially receive 100% of their commission all year.

At REAL, you only need to bring in 3 capping agents in your tier 1 to receive enough revenue share to completely cover your cap at the company.

At eXp, you would need to bring in 6 capping agents into your tier 1 to receive enough revenue share to completely cover your cap at the company.

Something you should keep in mind is that the majority of agents have 0 people in their downlines. So for you to actually have producing agents in all 5 tiers or 7 tiers is something few agents ever actually achieve. For this reason, I personally like the fact that REAL pays out higher for your tier 1 since that is the only tier I actually have control over.


All the numbers and tiers aside, the next few paragraphs will explain the BIGGEST difference in the two companies’ revenue share program and the culture of the company!

REAL Broker’s Independent Contract Agreement explicitly prohibits promising ANYTHING OF VALUE in exchange for naming someone as the referral agent.

REAL Broker independent contractor agreement .jpeg


This may seem like a small detail BUT IT IS NOT.

What this has created are agents who make outlandish promises of value for putting THEIR NAME AS THE SPONSOR INSTEAD OF YOURS!

They do this by promising agents exclusive training, weekly mastermind, private coaching, access to private groups, webinars, etc.

eXp does have rules around “stealing” other people’s recruits but if one agent is promising recruits tons of free value and your not, you could easily see how they may put the other agents name down when joining.

Now you may think “so what” or “good for them” BUT this can directly impact you and your own downline at eXp.

It’s NOT uncommon to hear about an agent LEAVING eXp just to RE-JOIN 6 months later under a different sponsor to get access to “exclusive content”.

But more importantly, let’s say you reach out to an agent at your last brokerage and tell them all about eXp, for a month you answer all their questions, send them resources, and hop on video calls with them and walk them through the process of joining.

One day they tell you the great news that they have joined eXp!

You ask them, “great, did you put me down as your sponsor?” and they reply “No, I put this other guy I saw on YouTube who promises me exclusive training and access to his private Facebook group if I put him as my sponsor!”

THIS is exactly what happens at eXp.

This practice is not good for the NEW eXp agent or YOU for building out your downline.

How can YOU, the average agent who is running a real estate business, be expected to compete against a full-time recruiter who is promising exclusive training, coaching, mastermind groups, weekly webinars, and more!

This is one of the issues REAL Broker seeks to fix.

THIS is how they are improving on the revenue share model Keller Williams and eXp have created, by prohibiting promising anything of value for putting someone’s name down as your sponsor.

For that reason, I absolutely have to give this round to REAL Broker. I would much rather get paid MORE for my first few tiers AND have a fair system where it’s easier for the average agent to build out a downline.

REAL Broker & eXp Realty Software Included

Fee’s, stocks, and revenue share is obviously not the ONLY things you should consider when choosing a real estate company. What software and tools they give you should also be a deciding factor and truthfully, this is where eXp does have a unique selling point.

First, let’s acknowledge what software BOTH companies offer.

Both companies use Skyslope for transaction management. This is where you will submit your contracts for compliance and review by your broker.

Both companies also utilize Workplace. This is a platform created by Facebook and is essentially like a series of Facebook groups JUST for business use without all the distractions of personal content and ads.

You can mastermind with other agents, search for an agent, and direct message them and both eXp and REAL also have additional training resources within the workplace.

eXp usesInside Real Estate & KV Corefor their agent’s CRM and websites.

REAL Broker on the other hand offers its clientsChime for their CRM and Website needs. Both services provide very similar tools.

There are other smaller programs and apps that each company gives you access to, such as REAL giving you access to Cloud CMA , but KV Core, Chime, Skyslope and Workplace are the most impactful pieces of technology.

Now there is one piece of software that eXp offers that no other brokerage offers and that is eXp World or what they also like to call their “cloud office”.

exp realty world.jpeg

When you want to attend training, you log into eXp World and walk to the training location. When you have a question about your commission, you log into eXp World and walk to the information booth, have a questions about just about anything, you log into eXp World and walk to a specific location to get an answer.

THIS is the proprietary exclusive software eXp claims gives them an edge over every other brokerage.

Instead of just signing into a zoom class for live training or picking up the phone to ask a question about your commission, they prefer you to log into eXp world and walk your avatar to a specific location before you can ask your question.

I’ve talked to a lot of current and former eXp agents about what their thoughts are on eXp World and here is my honest assessment after listening to them. Brand new agents seem to like it while experienced agents dislike it.  I know several agents who say they have not logged into it for years or only log in once or twice a year to listen to a specific presentation from leadership and then I know some newer agents who say they think it’s fun.

Whether you will use it or not, one thing to keep in mind is that YOU ARE PAYING FOR eXp WORLD.

eXp charges you an $85/month “cloud brokerage fee” which I’m sure a big part of goes to this proprietary software. Compared to REAL, you are also paying an additional $4,000 a year in your cap with this being the biggest additional peace of technology you receive.

So as far as who wins this round, I’m going to have to give it a tie. Both eXp and REAL offer CRM’s and websites and even some of the exact same software. As far as eXp world, I’m going to count it as a non-factor since some agents I talk to do like it while others say they never use it and don’t like the fact that they still have to pay for it monthly.

REAL Broker & eXp Realty Potential Growth

real broker growth .jpeg

If you are focused not just on saving money by being with a cloud-based brokerage but also on trying to build true wealth, then the potential growth of a company IS something you want to look at.

Many agents who got in early on Keller Williams’s revenue share program are now millionaires because of it and will receive passive income for the rest of their lives.

Similarly, many of the agents who got into eXp EARLY are also now multi-millionaires from their revenue share and stock appreciation.

So the question is, can you STILL build massive wealth from either of those companies with how large they are today? Maybe, but it’s a heck of a lot harder now than if you had gotten in early with them.

I do believe that cloud-based brokerages ARE THE FUTURE OF OUR INDUSTRY!

And because of that, I think both eXp and REAL Broker are going to see MASSIVE GROWTH over the next few years.

And over the next 10 years, I would not be surprised if there are other national cloud brokerages that pop up alongside of REAL & eXp as well. This model is the future.

Here is my honest opnion about the two companies.  If you want to be a full-time recruiter and coach, eXp may be a better option for you. They have fewer restrictions on what you can do for recruiting and because they charge you more money, they have more money they can disperse in 7 tiers or revenue share.

On the other hand, if you want to be a full-time real estate agent and only focus on revenue share part-time or not at all, then I think REAL is a better option. They charge you significantly less and their culture is not as focused on recruiting.

And I think there are FAR MORE AGENTS in the industry who want to join a cloud brokerage to help grow their real estate businesses than there are who want to be full-time recruiters!

Because of this, I think REAL has the potential for MORE EXPLOSIVE growth in the future.

I honestly think that REAL brokers can follow a similar growth path and even surpass eXp one day.

I am giving this round to REAL Broker. eXp has blazed the trail for other cloud-based brokerages to break into the scene and I think REAL is going to have a far easier time growing quickly because of it.

So who wins?

real broker llc.jpeg

After reviewing and comparing eXp to REAL broker, I personally decided to join REAL Broker.

As a real estate agent, I will simply make more money at REAL than I will at eXp, I think the company has greater potential for growth and the culture is more inline with my core values.


Next Steps With REAL

Let’s schedule a time for us to hop on a 1-on-1 video call and we can talk more about your business and REAL Broker.

If you are ready to join and don’t have a sponsor yet, I would love to be your sponsor in the company at no additional cost to you and I will then have a vested interest in your success at REAL. When you sign your Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA), just put my name, Malcolm Lawson, down as your “Sponsoring Agent” and I will officially be in your upline!

You can join here

Or check out these other REAL Broker articles I wrote: