Mark Z., the boot-strapping REALTOR®-CEO of Mark Z. Real Estate Experts (powered by eXp Realty), has sold more than 4,500 homes since 2003, totaling nearly $1 billion in real estate sales. However, this University of Michigan graduate comes from humble beginnings. After a wave of layoffs under his former employer, Mark started bartending and waiting tables. His Aunt was in the business of real estate and convinced him to pursue his license. “I started working in real estate during the day and bartending at night, which resulted in many 80-hour work weeks.” Within two years, he was doing so well that he was able to quit bartending for the profession he has grown to love.
“I’m 100 percent submersed into real estate,” Mark explains. “Everything my family has is a result of real estate. The industry has been good to me, and I’m always trying to give back by training other agents to succeed.” Mark received awards from The Wall Street Journal and Real Trends for being one of the Top 100 Real Estate Teams in the country; he was also one of the Top 20 REALTORS® in the world for Keller Williams Realty Group before his departure. When asked why he left, the answer is simple.
“I wanted to give back to my team: this platform allows for all my agents to take part in a variety of performance and growth incentives, including a company revenue-share program that is second to none.” Mark doesn’t just build teams; he empowers them. “At eXp Realty, our family of agents and brokers build their own businesses while having the opportunity to establish a direct ownership interest as a shareholder and partner in our parent company. Realty agents under eXp have access to some of the most powerful technologies in real estate at no additional cost: this includes top-tier lead-generation software.” New technology has changed the industry significantly since Mark Z. started his career. “I never used to pay for leads,” he says. “My website would bring 100,000 visitors a month, and I would get organic leads every day. Third-party sites were not as powerful as they are today.”
Mark is well versed in the challenges presented by technology. “It’s all about staying ahead of the curve and bringing value to our clients,” he says. “Technology grows rapidly, and so do we—we're constantly updating all of our systems and tools; our clients benefit and sell their home faster, and for more money than their competition.”
When it comes to the importance of family, it extends far beyond the workplace. “My wife, Janelle, is an attorney too and my soulmate; we have a wonderful life together. My family, my children—they’re the reason I do what I do. My life is very simple, and goes in the order of God, family, and work.” When asked what he’d do to change his life, he says “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad I failed when I did—much of my success happened because I was vulnerable enough to be okay with trying as many things as I could in the industry, knowing very well that it might not work out.”
Mark claims to be too busy for hobbies—unless you count supporting multiple charities each year. Mark Z. and his family recently sponsored a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, specifically for “Real Men Wear Pink.” According to Mark, “We raised more than $18,000. I’ve lost multiple members of my family to cancer, so it’s a big part of me.” Mark’s drive to enrich his community partly stems from his own brush with death several years ago.
“I was at a restaurant with colleagues when I passed out and fell to the floor. They shook me awake and took me to the hospital immediately—those efforts saved my life.” He was diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome, an irregular heartbeat that causes sudden death. It’s an unusual genetic disorder of the heart’s electrical system that strikes suddenly in mid-age. A few years ago, Mark’s brother died of the same illness that he has since received an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator to prevent. “I’m grateful to my friends for saving my life, and I treasure my time with family and friends, even more, every day.” Mark Z. concludes, “Success to me is living the life I truly want…not just settling for a life that came my way. Success is the peace of mind resulting from knowing I gave my greatest effort at becoming the best I could be.”