Leo Pareja was recently named President of Affiliated Services for eXp Realty and his appointment to this position couldn’t be a more ideal fit, based on his extensive experience in the industry and the needs for this role.
For a little background, Leo broke into the real estate industry at just 19 years old and by 28, he was the No. 1 agent in the world for Keller Williams. Throughout his 15-year tenure doing production, he was a fixture on RealTrends’ The Thousand report, as well as the No. 1 agent on the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ (NAHREP) Top 250 list and an alumni of Realtor® magazine’s 30-under-30 list. Pareja sold close to 4,000 homes representing around $750 million in transactional volume.
Pareja then went on to co-found Washington Capital Partners, one of the largest private lending companies in the U.S. Shortly after, he also co-founded Remine, a fast-growing MLS technology vendor. Pareja has served as founding president of NAHREP’s Metro D.C. chapter, and later as national president for the organization. He and his wife, Ariana, live in Miami and are parents to Natalia, age 7 and Mateo, age 5.
In his role as President of Affiliated Services, Pareja will oversee all eXp Realty products and services such as mortgage, title, escrow and lead-generation platforms. Recently, we asked Leo about his path that led to his role at eXp.
How did you get into real estate?
“I went to college during the dot.com bubble to study web design. After my freshman year I realized the jobs I wanted were quickly disappearing as tech companies were disappearing left and right. My friend’s mom told me to read the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki and the book changed the course of my life. I got obsessed with the leverage of people, time and money and chose real estate as my path at 19 years old.”
You were quite a force with Keller Williams. What was your biggest takeaway during your young professional years there?
“I lived through the greatest boom and bust of the last 100 years in my early 20’s. I experienced pretty big success and assumed I was really good. After losing everything at 23 years of age, I became extremely focused at studying business and modeling success. My biggest take away from selling was that if you want to focus on any niche in real estate, there is a good chance someone has already tried it and scaled it. So, it is best to reach out and learn from them and save a lot of time and money trying to figure it out yourself. Basically, model success is the shortcut to just about anything you want in life.”
After a decade of heavy lifting in doing real estate transactions, you turned your focus on the investment sector with Washington Capital Partners in 2012. You are no longer with them. Did that evolve the way you envisioned?
“During the years coming out of the financial crisis, I realized that a lot of the laws being put in place to prevent another financial crisis were going to make it pretty hard for small investors to borrow money to fix and flip houses from traditional banks. This is now a very robust and competitively established industry. Back in 2012 it was only local mom and pop players doing business in local geographies. This was one of my best timed, right place, right time businesses I have scaled. We built all of our own tech from the ground up and scaled to a business that has originated over a billion dollars in loans and will do $500 million + in loan volume in 2022. It evolved to become bigger than I imagined, I had a successful exit of that business in 2020.”
Then in 2016, you co-founded Remine, an MLS solution for clean data. Did you accomplish what you had hoped for yourself and the industry?
“As I was building tech for Washington Capital Partners, I was looking for public record data and I became aware of how difficult it was to find across multiple counties. Remine was born out of my own needs to be able to go to a single place to find multiple data sets. I was having to log into 4 or 5 websites and use virtual assistants to standardize it all. Remine started as a solution to a real-life pain point for my businesses and evolved into a full-fledged MLS vendor technology. We were able to get into 65 MLS’s serving 1,100,000 agents in the U.S. We were acquired by four of our largest customers and I feel we built a best-in-class tech stack enjoyed by agents everyday. Many of those being eXp agents!”
Prior to joining eXp as President of Affiliated Services, you started the Pareja Family Foundation in 2020. Can you explain what you’re trying to accomplish with this foundation?
“My wife, Ariana, and I have always had a shared passion for giving. We were both mentors with Big Brothers and Big Sisters when we were in our early 20’s. Through that experience, we learned that focusing on one person at a time and giving them the attention and the tools necessary to better the situation can substantially change the course of their life. After growing a large venture-backed tech company, we saw that there are great-paying entry-level jobs that don’t require a computer science degree. Our foundation gives women and disadvantaged people of color a scholarship to a 6-month boot camp where they graduate with basic skills to attain a job in the tech industry and typically double or triple their income potential, while putting them on a path to continue to upskill themselves and their income even more over time.”
And now, you are with eXp Realty. What are you hoping to accomplish in this role as President of Affiliated Services that can help benefit agents and brokers at eXp and in turn, their clients?
“eXp has some of the most talented folks in the real estate industry. The fact that we are one company with very tech-forward Realtors has the advantage of being able to scale products and services to make both agent workflows and the customer experience even better. I am excited to help deliver on all of the above.”
Do you have any words of advice for anyone just starting out in real estate?
“For someone who is willing to be a student and put in the work required, there is no other opportunity I have seen that has this low barrier of entry with such a high reward ratio of any opportunity offered in this amazing country.”
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