Transcription of Episode

Intro/Outro 0:04
Welcome to Investing Across Borders with Lauren Cohen. Every week she will share valuable information that you need to know in order to successfully invest in real estate and other business endeavors in North America. We believe in helping clients invest, live, work, and play across borders. And now, your host, Lauren Cohen.

Lauren Cohen 0:28
Hello everybody. This is Lauren Cohen, international legal and real estate expert coming to you with my podcast Investing Across Borders. Today we have a pretty special guest with us. It’s a new friend, somebody I’ve been talking to for a while, he is in Minnesota, and spends part of the year in Sarasota. So we connected through eXp this amazing cloud based brokerage that many of you know I’m part of. We’ve had some amazing guests on here like Brent Gove, Jim Wong and Michael Valdez and Megan Kelly and so many others from from eXp. And today we’re here to talk about business brokerage, growing the eXp commercial, and why Sean came over to eXp commercial. So that’s going to be the question of the day. Sean is quite an influencer. And we’re super excited to have him here. Sean just give a little bit of background about yourself if you would.

Sean Palmer 1:31
Absolutely. My name is Sean Palmer, I work with eXp for business, which is a division of eXp commercial. And I am a corporate advisor creating the business brokerage and M&A division. The reason that I came over to eXp is because five years ago, when the company was growing so fast, when it was just a residential company, I began to talk to the founder Glen Sanford about possibly considering business brokerage and mergers and acquisitions. There was a small problem, they were growing so fast, and they were still this baby company, then they didn’t have a commercial division. Commercial had to be created. And once it was, then they said, Hey, Sean, all those great ideas and expertise and knowledge that you have. Let’s get that going. And so basically, almost five months ago, we started this process. And now we are actively open. Really, there’s two sides to it. There’s a business brokerage division, which is between zero and 5 million dollars in transactions. And anything over 5 million is what we call mergers and acquisitions. And we have a separate division for that, because those are two separate buckets, but two very similar buckets to most people.

Lauren Cohen 2:45
Well, the interesting thing is, I was a business broker for five years. But I didn’t even realize that you can be a member of the IBBA and be a Florida business broker without being a member of the BBF, which is the Business Brokers of Florida, I was under the impression that you have to be a member of the BBF to be a business broker in Florida. But Sean has corrected me. And that’s really great, because for x peers, that means you don’t have to be a member of the BBF. Now, why is that good? Because the eXp is not a member of the BBF. But eXp is doing these amazing things, stepping outside of the box, literally like we always do, and creating opportunities where they didn’t exist before. And actually today, I got an email about joining the International Business Brokers Association, which was an email sent to everybody, the eXp commercial, I’m sure and finding out opportunities for us to grow our businesses. And it’s great because eXp is really all about thinking outside of the box. And so I’m really glad you’ve come over because I think business brokerage, especially at the eXp is so important for what I’m doing internationally. I can’t really do it without business broker partners, and I’d rather have them in my family, in the eXp family, than outside. And so it’s a great opportunity for us to collaborate. And that’s how we started connecting. We talked about a particular client and then we started talking about all this international stuff because Sean’s focus is international. And obviously mine is as well. When you first got into this space, did you have any idea that you’d be working with as many different people from different countries as you have?

Sean Palmer 4:30
No, you know, it’s funny. I have a small business background, I grew up in a family of small business operators and then I began to become an entrepreneur myself. So my first company to a fortune 500 company and I fell in love with the art of doing a transaction. Whenever you build something, you sell it to a fortune 500 company. That’s not a fast process. That’s about 12 months of painful negotiations, dealing with a lot of attorneys and very smart people.

Lauren Cohen 5:04
That’s interesting that you separated attorneys from the very smart people. “Attorneys and very smart people.” Okay, we’re not gonna get into that.

Sean Palmer 5:13
Well, the thing is, I think that intelligence is on both sides. But I think you take the investment bankers, then you get the attorneys, and then you get the the entrepreneurs, and you all line us up together. And in some way, we all see things very systematically. And then other way we see that very differently.

Lauren Cohen 5:30
Well, cuz lawyers are known to be deal killers, not deal makers, right? I mean, everybody, it’s just a common thing. When I went to law school, I wanted to be an M&A lawyer. That was my thing. I wanted to be on Wall Street. Even though I went to law school in Canada. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make deals happen, I had, you know, these things in my head about all these big deals and everything. And actually one of the largest companies I’ve ever worked for, which is a pretty large company, is, Citigroup, and I was in touch with the head of their compliance division, and just watching all these deals happen. And seeing, you know, like, that was my first big foray into corporate America, you didn’t get deals happening like this. You have to go through 50,000 panels of approval, and this and that. And so that’s where the lawyers get that bad name, because it’s not for those 50,000 levels of approval, you may be approving something that shouldn’t be approved. But I like to think of myself as a deal maker. And I work with clients that are looking to make deals happen, that are looking to invest across borders, they may not be emerging and acquiring, but sometimes they are. And the key is that they now are, they have a vested interest in the outcome, because it’s their personal investment, their business investment in their future, to be able to access investments across borders. And it’s great because clients are coming to me, and therefore to you looking for these opportunities to buy businesses that are going to help them to achieve their goals of being able to live and work in the US. And I’m sure over time, you’ve probably dealt with I know you’ve dealt with tons of Canadians get, give me an example of a really interesting experience you had with a foreign investor that don’t have to be from Canada. Well, you know, it’s funny, you can tell I have a southern accent. And so when I would do many presentations over in Canada, um, there’s over 80 different nationalities in Canada, and one of my dearest consultants that was working with me at the time, and he said, you notice, you know, he said, john, when you meet these people, you can’t call them but you have to say they’re Dave’s. And he goes, and I said, No, you don’t understand I’m from the south, you can call anybody but and they’ll, they’ll go along with it. But no, I found Canadians to be incredible to work with. And I’ve made up. I’ve worked with Canadians from the east coast to the west coast and everything in between. And it’s always a positive experience. So yeah, very much love international business. It’s completely different. And what you said, just hit the nail on the head. And I’ve said this through the podcast before is that different cultures approach business so differently, you can’t do business the same way in America as you do in Israel. And you can’t do business the same way in China as you do in America. Like if you go and give a business card in China, in the old days, you know, when I was doing a lot of Eb five deals you went and saw you can you can look them in the I have to, you know, bend your head and pass them in the card and it’s just very different and cultural differences. I’ve written an E book about this cultural differences are one of the biggest stumbling blocks that people face when they’re doing business with people from other countries or in other countries. And I don’t think enough of us realize saying bad to somebody maybe not in Canada as much as like if you say that to somebody in France, or Venezuela, they’ll be like oh, what the heck what kind of like you know, you’re taking liberties You’re being too informed. I mean, that’s just not right. So yeah, I understand and the thing is, Lauren is, is I have done business all over the world. I’ve become an expert in the Asia Pacific region, Australia, and those cultures are vastly different and whether you go between Japan and Korea or Korea and Thailand or go to the Philippines is every culture in every country is different. You’ve got to learn what those things in you’re absolutely right. You cannot walk around calling Japanese or Korean people or anyone but because that doesn’t work, but it does it’s, I find it to be in you know, exhilarating to do international business because I tell people there’s really not a short guide there’s really not as easy as in the United States. But everything has a challenge and as long as you’re willing to meet that challenge you can actually learn that process and be very good at it and be and create a very lucrative business as well. opportunities not only for you, but for the people that you’re serving and it’s it’s great because eXp with now 19 countries, almost 65,000 agents. It’s going to be announced this week. It’s amazing because for me, I’ve had my real estate license for 14 years. And until I joined the eXp I literally did nothing. I didn’t have my immigrate to real estate program, I didn’t have 24 referral agreements out there, like that’s it, there’s a lot of activity. And it’s because we have such an international presence. And then out of the box way of thinking, and because we’re cloud based, and obviously, that was a big factor in the past year and a half. And I noticed here that you mentioned something that one of the full pause that you made is, you know, assuming that every countries like the US, and I’m sure when you first started out, just like you said about saying, but when you first started out, you think, Oh, I mean, in Canada, we don’t have this mentality, always, we always know that we have to, like be a little look at the Americans, right? This morning, I was talking to my brother, and he said, I’m sorry, you couldn’t make it in and I start laughing. And he says, Oh, well, I speak properly, and you speak American now. And it’s true, it’s even your accent, but you can’t assume that it’s one size fits all. And unfortunately, too many Americans. And I hate to say this thing, that everything is the same as in America. And it’s not. And for those of us that are able to look outside of that and be able to think, Okay, how do we approach business in France, in Germany, in South, in, you know, South Africa, in Venezuela, in Brazil, wherever, in Colombia and Mexico, in Canada, it’s different, it’s not business as usual, the banking system is different, the money system is different, the currency system is different. And the more that you realize that those differences are relevant, and are in debt more that you’re able to embrace them, the more successful you’re going to be. So I asked for you to give one tip about doing business across borders, what would that tip be? I would say, whether it’s domestic or across borders, it’s to be patient, to hire the right people, to trust the process, keep your emotions in check, and make sure the facts of whatever you’re investing into actually are there. Because no one should be able to conceptually say it’s this and it doesn’t prove that to be in regards to a cap rate or a return on investment or an you know, whether it’ll praise or anything like that. They use professionals in all of these areas. And when you’re when you’re doing international business, where people said, well, it’s, you know, when you’re comparing America to other countries, I always say that other countries don’t have perfect processes. But it’s the imperfection that actually makes it exciting, and actually makes things even a challenge. And so I think we’re Americans struggle as we look for that perfection and other places that it is like America. But really, if you look at is the opposite, when you’re looking over the borders, look for the imperfect, to make it of comfortable situation and a fun transaction between countries. But that might be your common ground right there. I mean, that may be the opportunity that you need. And it’s really I mean, it’s great to be able to work with somebody like yourself, that’s so internationally minded, despite being a guy from the south that likes to say, hey, but how are you?

Sean Palmer 13:14
Well, you know, I always say I’m a sophisticated cowboy. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lauren Cohen 13:23
Oh, okay. Got it. Cool. So give us one cross border example of something that you did that was kind of an epiphany for you, when you started working with international investors. Was there anything specific that comes to mind?

Sean Palmer 13:38
You know, it’s a great question. I’ve worked with billionaires in large projects, and I’ve worked with individual investors for, you know, 200 – $300,000 investments. And to me, the dollar figure only matters when it’s the professional that actually can handle a small transaction or a large transaction. And keep in mind, when you’re making investments over the border, you want to make sure that the person is working with you, if you’ve got a half a million dollars, find someone that specializes in half a million to one and a half million dollar deals, if you don’t need a 10 million or 20 or $50 million transaction person to go find you a $500,000, because they’re probably not going to be that good at it, even though they’re incredibly educated and highly skilled. And so as you’re doing business with eXp, for business, and with you, Lauren, with your clients coming over the border, we’re going to find the perfect person for them to work with. And it’s going to make sense. And so it’s very, very important to align yourself to the professionals that understand the bucket that you’re going after, and not be overqualified or under qualified.

Sean Palmer 14:48
I think that that’s so important. And the thing that I would say resonates most with me is obviously the professionals, because so many clients are trying to do cheap and cheerful, and then what did they get you, cheap and cheerful, they don’t get results, they get cheap and cheerful. And especially this is especially true No offense, fellow Canadians, but it’s true for Canadians because we think that we know how to do business in the US, and we don’t. And the sooner that you realize that, and find a trusted advisor, I don’t care if it’s Seann, or Lauren, or a team, ideally, somebody to manage this team and pull it together for you, somebody that you can go to not 40 people that you find on the internet, but trusted advisors that work collectively and collaboratively. And I always say in my talks, it’s kind of like going to seven different doctors and get seven different medications and what happens, medication mismanagement, right? If you don’t have people that are working collaboratively, and with a harmonized approach, you end up messing up your success likelihood, because you’re not going to have things going in the right direction.

Sean Palmer 15:58
Yeah, and you know, Lauren, I want to explain to the viewers, that eXp is a very special company. And I want to give you some facts that will understand why, first of all, we did $41 billion in the last 90 days, that is a big number. But we also have, we’ve received $3 billion in referrals from our residential agents over to our commercial agents. And that’s what it’s all about.

Lauren Cohen 16:27
That is really what we’re doing at eXp commercial, is serving our residential agents, as well as our own network.

Sean Palmer 16:35
So as viewers turn to you, or turn to us, and they want to look for a specific type of business, we have 65,000 agents that are not qualified Business Brokers or mergers and acquisitions, but they’re entrenched in their communities, those business sellers trust them in so they allow us to know when their businesses are going to be sold under a very confidential information being passed from within the company, we can make that information available to people that are looking to buy something before it even goes into the market. The problem is when something is profitable, and it hits the market, when there’s so much cash right now, and there’s so many buyers, then you it sometimes you can struggle to find what you need. But if we know internally, that we can bring inventory out before it even hits the listing, then you actually can get into that opportunity before it even gets put on the market. And so if we know the amount of money, you want to invest in what area you’re thinking that might be your love for that type of a business, then that’s what we can find for you. You just got to have a little bit of patience.

Lauren Cohen 17:45
I will say that my son is home today, and I’m struggling with his math. I have definitely not had much patience. So ironically, one of my eXp partners is currently tutoring him in math. Talk about diversified responsibilities, right? I’m like, can you help him? She was a teacher before and now she’s one of my partners in Tucson, Arizona, and she’s on with him. And I’m like, better her than me. You know, so it was just crazy. Yeah, but we you know, and that’s the other thing with eXp, I feel like at eXp we really have a family. Like, I know that if I come to you, well, actually, this happened to us because I talked to you about a client, we talked about certain things and you said, Look, if you’re bringing the client to me, I know that client has been properly vetted, because they’re working with you and they’re not going to be working with me if they’re not properly vetted. We have to be in alignment. And that’s what I think eXp is all about. Now some people come and go, they come in for a few months it doesn’t work, but we now have 65,000 people in the company 87% never leave from day one. 87% stay and how they actually attract out of those 87% there’s not a lot, they just stay because of everything else. Not a lot of them are attractors, right?

Sean Palmer 19:35
That’s exactly right. And this is another thing is 76% of them cap out annually. Our numbers are double and triple of what most of our competitors have. And I tell people if you come to eXp or you’re looking for a great agent, you’re going to find them anywhere. There’s a place where 87% always stay and 76% hit all of their obligations to eXp anually, that means that we have 76 out of 100 that wake up and hustle every day and get the job done. They’re professionals. And we don’t attract a lot of people that don’t really work hard at eXp. And so I would say a lot of times when people say eXp, it takes some level of entrepreneurship. You have to engage and learn independently.

Lauren Cohen 20:28
Entrepreneurship and independence. That’s exactly it. If you need somebody to hold your hand every single day, it’s probably not the right place.

Sean Palmer 20:35
That’s exactly right. And even though we’re a company that grows at about 1000 agents a week, we’re attracting the people in those same categories, the high producers, the very intelligent individuals, and then what you’ll find as when you call me, Lauren, you know, we didn’t know each other, but we’re both at eXp. And we are highly collaborative to help each other. Becasue we know that if we can act like souls like minds, then we’re going to be able to help each other financially. But I would say if you met most people in the eXp, making an income is why we all wake up, right? It’s why the company is in existence. But I think that we care about each other. I do, people really do have a heart and a soul. And they that’s why everybody gets up in our virtual world, and they train each other. And they do podcast and they post all kinds of stuff online. It’s a very positive learning environment. And that’s why when you deal with people at the eXp and you get a great result, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t because we attract the right people.

Lauren Cohen 21:42
Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because I don’t know if you remember on Friday, we were in the world on our leadership call. And Stephanie Gillis and Jim are doing the eXp live tomorrow in New York. And I was scheduled to go to New York on Wednesday to speak at two events. And I’m texting Stephanie separately and I’m saying you know, should I come on Tuesday? I didn’t know about C five because I was supposed to be in Toronto, long story. Anyway, she says yes, come. It’s my birthday in Canada. So guess what, I’m going to New York tomorrow morning so that I can be a eXp live in New York, tomorrow afternoon or evening, I should say, meet with Stephanie, finally meet him in person, see some of the other eXp peers, and I’m super excited now, would that have happened somewhere else? No. But you know, it’s what it’s all about. And it’s really about building relationships. And for me, that’s my number one thing. I love connecting people, I love making connections. And it’s been very, as much as I love the agent attraction piece. And being the chair of the international investment committee. I think what I love the most about eXp is knowing that I can have people like you, and Stephanie and Jim, that I can call and I can go to and I can bring client issues, I had an issue with something in Arizona went to them, they looked after it, and everybody will step out of their way to help you as much as they can, like you said, and so do you have any parting words of wisdom other than get into eXp Now, on the ground level, if you want to be a business broker, or be a part of the m&a team, because this is the time Don’t wait until you think everything is set up? Now is the time to break ground with Shawn and with all of us. But do you have anything further that you’d love to say or share?

Sean Palmer 23:28
I would you know, Lauren, I think a lot of people follow you and they follow me on LinkedIn. And I would serve first say that if you’re not connected, please reach out and hit the connect button on LinkedIn. So you can follow everything that’s going on in business brokerage and mergers and acquisitions for eXp not only in the United States, but across the world. I would tell you that if you’re going to come into eXp I or Lauren or anyone that’s in this great company will be able to share our vision with why we came. I will tell you that when I started to talk to Glenn Sanford, the founder in which is now a billionaire, because of the eXp. And so proud of Glenn Sanford, because he’s probably one of the most humble, amazing people that I’ve ever met. And also Jason, the CEO of eXp is equally amazing. And they’re men that give and they are very caring for what’s going on. And so I would say that when you’re coming into the company or looking to come into eXp and choose whoever you join with as a business decision, not as a personal decision. And so I had many incredible people in the eXp that wanted to recruit me. And at the end of the day I chose Stephanie gillison only for the fact that we we’re fighters, we’re hustlers, where we wake up, eat, breathe and sleep to get big things done. And I feel lucky that I chose Stephanie and I feel lucky to be amongst all the people in eXp. I’ve learned so much from them, even if they had nothing to do with who sponsored me. I am blessed to be in this company and I’m blessed to better grow with this company as well.

Lauren Cohen 25:05
Well, I consider myself blessed to have you as my partner, whether you’re in my direct line or not, doesn’t matter, we’re going to be building some great things across borders together. And you know, I’m here to serve. Funny if I had a dime for every time, or $1 for every time somebody asked me a question, because they think I work for eXp, because I’m a lawyer, you know, I would be a super multimillionaire, but I dont, I work independently. But the beauty is that I can serve all of my eXp partners, clients, and help you to grow your businesses, which is what it’s all about. So when Sean has a complex issue from any country in the world, he’s going to bring that to me, we’re going to find a way to get them through the door and make sure that everything is handled, and vice versa when they’re expanding outside. So I want to thank Sean again. He has some amazing partners, we’re going to be doing a lot of stuff together. I’m excited about the opportunities excited to be on the cusp of a business brokerage at the eXp, which I know and love very much. And thank you again, everybody. I’m going to sign off for today.

Lauren Cohen 26:07
This is Lauren Cohen, international, legal and real estate expert. And the podcast host of this wonderful podcast Investing Across Borders. By the way, I forgot to mention, we just signed our first sponsor of my podcast. It’s called lendi It’s an international lending company that lends to foreign nationals investing in the US currently from Canada, Israel, Australia and the UK. And Lendi helps you by funding your investment up to four units in US property in multiple states. Ask me about it. We’ll be sharing links to that as well. It’s a great opportunity. They have great options available and I’m super excited to be announcing that partnership that’s Lendi out of Israel, although the principal just moved to South Florida. Imagine that and I met them through a colleague of mine in Toronto, on LinkedIn of all places, one of my favorite venues. So pleasure to connecting with you, Sean. Again. I’m Lauren Cohen. Thank you everybody. Hopefully you’ll join us at the eXp we’d love to have you on board and we’re here to serve you. Investing Across Borders signing off for today. Have a great one. Bye for now.

Intro/Outro 27:24
Thanks for listening to Investing Across Borders with Lauren Cohen. Make sure to check the show notes for any links and for guests contact information. If you have questions for Lauren, please reach out to her at If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast with a friend.