Over The Top

Who cares about the market conditions? Good year, or bad year, or OK year…. It does not make any difference for the top agents in the US. Somehow, they always find a way to adapt and thrive, year after year. I don’t know if the best pros are getting better but there is no doubt they are doing as well or better than the year before. The rich are getting richer. So goes the real estate business in the fast lane.

As they have done every year for the past 12, Real Trends and the Wall Street Journal partnered to publish their much awaited list of America’s top 1000 real estate professionals. Hot. Burning hot. Don’t read what follows if you are afraid of big numbers.

Let’s start with a little bit of context. Last time I looked, there were 1,255,619 “active” Realtors in the US. The average agent sold 8.6 homes in 2016. Not bad, really. Peanuts though for the best of the best: according to the top list, the average agent ranked in “The Thousand” sold…. 192 homes, and the average team sold 470 homes! How is that for a big number?

Realtors, whether “individuals” or “teams”, were ranked in 2 categories: Transaction Dollar Volume & Transaction sides. You probably know which one of the two makes my heart beat. Yes, it is the dollar volume. My hat to the agents who sold a few hundred homes (do they have a life besides writing deals and driving from one house to the next?), but for my taste, I prefer the bottom line. Money. That’s what any job is about. I’d rather sell 10 homes for a $million each than 100 at $100,000 a piece.

The proof is in the pudding. The huge majority of the winners specialize in luxury properties and do business in some of the most prestigious (and pricey) zip codes in the country. No wonder most of the superstars are on one coast or the other. Out of the top 250 top individuals in the country, 111 of them are in California (60 in the South/51 in the North) and 47 are in New York. Between the two states, that’s 63% of the total. By the way, Florida is next with 23. The other 47 states share the remaining 28%. Who said life (or business) is fair?

Oh, by the way, there is kind of a third category: the average price. At the risk of shocking a few, I will say in low voice that the winner had an average transaction price of $50 million (Told you not to look). Of course, for all I know, this agent may have sold only 1 home! I’ll take it anyway.

Even though the number of transaction sides does not speak to me, I’ll mention for the fun of it that the winner sold 3,556 in 2016. That’s nearly 300/month and 10/day. The top dog in the “individual” category is our usual suspect: Ben Caballero, with HomesUSA.com. In my opinion, he should compete in the “machine” category instead of the solo players as his company is an online system dealing with a number of builders in several states. Confusing.

Ben managed to finish first in the transaction volume category as well. Bravo. He sold an amazing $1,444,469,153 (more than 41% better than the year before). If you divide by 3556, that translates into an average sale of $406,206. One quick commercial: it is my pleasure to recognize No. 2 on the top list: our very own Efi Luzon, from Intero Los Altos (CA). He sold $834,574,000 worth of real estate, but with a “handful” of transactions.

The numbers are mind boggling in the “team” category too, both for units and volume. However I will skip the analysis because I just can’t judge the performance of a team I don’t know. What is a team? 2 people? 10? 20? 50? Size matters. Obviously if a team has a bunch of members and does business in a high-end market, it has nothing to do with a husband & wife team, or whatever. Congratulations to the winners though. Success is success.

Just in case you want another illustration of how amazing the best agents were last year, let me quickly mention that the top 10 agents, countrywide, combined for $5 billion in sales…. If you are an agent and read this blog, don’t be intimidated, take it as an inspiration. You too might get on the podium next year, or another year. May the Force be with you.