Earlier this week, it was reported by Inman that Keller Williams, the largest real estate franchisor by agent count had ordered a purge of “Ghost Agents” after becoming aware of inconsistencies in their office real estate agent count.

What Is A Ghost Agent?

A ghost agent is an agent who is on a real estate brokerage roster but isn’t actively involved in real estate.  An example of a ghost agent is an agent who has passed away, no longer has a license, or is no longer in the business.  Oddly enough I wrote a blog about what happens to real estate agents a few weeks ago.

Why Do Ghost Agents Matter?

When you get into the business of large real estate franchises, one way in which one real estate franchise can show investors or the public that they are better is if they can show a few metrics related to real estate agent count.  Here are some of the watched metrics.

  1. Overall Real Estate Agent Count – Keller Williams is the largest franchisor in the United States strictly according to their agent count.  Reology is second.  This is among the national brands.
  2. Real Estate Agent Growth – Investors like to see growing companies. If one franchisor can show growth over another, that’s supposed to be good.

If you can make up either growth or real estate agent count, you win a prize.  It’s sort of a perverse incentive for a company that does very little for the actual clients of the company.

Should All Keller Williams Agents Be Painted With The Ghost Agent Brush?

No, for one, the agents at Keller Williams were likely not directly involved with the reporting of total number of agents per office.  I would say this, however.  When any agent from a franchise broker starts spouting things like, “largest”, or “fastest growing”, you should be skeptical.  What does having the largest franchised brokerage in the United States have to do with you selling your house?  The answer is absolutely nothing.

Will You Be Purging Your Agent Roster Of Ghost Agents?

Since we are a local independent real estate brokerage, there is no need for us to purge our roster.  When an agent leaves us, which happens very rarely, we immediately remove them from our roster in accordance with MREC(Missouri Real Estate Commission) statutes.  We don’t have a need to purge our roster because our clients are the reason why we are in business.  We aren’t interested in playing many of the games that national franchisors play.  You have an advantage when you work with Deerwood Realty.  We take this very seriously.

What If I Have Used A Ghost Agent To Buy Or Sell My Current Home?

There can be a lot of “churn” in real estate sales.  The business can be very difficult.  Don’t be surprised if the agent who you worked with to buy or sell your home isn’t around when you are ready to make a change the next time around.  I would offer that you might consider using Deerwood Realty for your next home purchase or sale.  We aren’t going anywhere, and if you are afraid of ghosts, you needn’t worry.  We don’t have any.