Article featured on Inman News
Byline by: Ben Caballero, HomesUSA.com CEO | 

Since I was ranked as America’s number one real estate agent on REAL Trends “The Thousand” list, other agents have questioned my ranking. Recently, one agent read a story about how, in 2016, I produced $1.4 billion in new home sales transactions, and commentedthat I was not a real estate agent, but a “real estate data seller.” He then suggested that I remove myself from the REAL Trends list and “compete against tech companies.”

To clarify I am not “a real estate data seller,” nor have I ever been. I am a real estate agent and I do what probably every single agent near the top of the REAL Trends list does: I utilize technology to its maximum potential.

The difference is, I built my own unique platform, which I use to manage MLS listings for homebuilders. Every single new listing request, or change received from a builder client is reviewed by a person before anything is entered in MLS – as many as 30 times over the life of a listing. My technology-based platform automates and streamlines much of the process and provides a dashboard that tracks and reports the status of MLS listings to my builder clients. It still takes “people power” to manage MLS listings for the 60+ builders we serve.

Different business models

I am the first to admit that agents do things that I do not do. However, I do many things other agents don’t do.  Builder clients receive custom marketing and production reports, a media management system, professional photography, a lead capturing and forwarding system, and approximately 25 more services and reports. By taking care of many difficult and detailed tasks quickly, accurately and timely, our clients’ new homes sell 10 to 30 days faster than comparable new homes not listed with HomesUSA.com.

The bottom line is that, while business models may differ the objective is the same – selling homes.

We operate in an industry with many types of residential properties in many varied markets, serving different client types; so naturally, there are many different business models. Creating a simple standard of fairness to rank sales production is impossible.

Trying to compare apples-to-apples??

The two dominate categories that REAL Trends uses to compare sales production are one’s annual number of sales and one’s annual total dollar volume. Those two categories sound straightforward, right?

Consider these differences:

Number of sales: When foreclosures were a major factor in the real estate industry, some agents listed hundreds even thousands of REO properties. Many of these REOs were HUD homes that HUD required buyer’s agents to submit their offers directly to HUD, instead of the listing agent. Banks did the same thing. At the time, one agent, who consistently sold more than a thousand REO properties annually, held first place on the REAL Trends list for several consecutive years. To handle the volume, that agent also leveraged technology that enabled him to handle the large REO volume, just as I use technology now.

Dollar volume: Is it fair for agents on the East and West coasts to dominate the dollar volume rankings just because the average sales prices are so high in these markets? Agents in other parts of the country – including most of the states in the U.S. — have little or no chance of ever competing in the total dollar volume category.

To say that I should not be ranked, for whatever reason, or that agent X should not be ranked because he or she sells multimillion dollar apartments in Manhattan – or because they use a different business model – means that someone must become the arbiter of which business models or locations to include/exclude in determining any rankings. That is simply not possible.

What REAL Trends does with “The Thousand” list is the correct approach: like Switzerland, they take no position, they just require the third-party evidence – the MLS data. They rank licensed professionals who lists or sells homes on MLS, based on their production, regardless of their business model or location.