Intero Reserve

How Do You Spell Amazing?

Alain Pinel, Intero Reserve, July 09, 2013

If any of you had any doubt that 2012 was the year of the recovery in residential real estate, take a good look at the numbers I am about to share with you. As they do every year, Real Trends & the Wall Street Journal just published the list of the top professionals in the US, based on number of sales (sides) and dollar volume. The results are nothing short of amazing. The top 1000 agents, combined, sold a record $50 Billion worth of homes last year… An average of $50M per agent! Now, please keep in mind that we are talking about the best of the best here, hardly 0.1% of the agents’ population in the country. Over 1 million real estate agents try to make a living in this business, but the median annual income is only a hair over $40,000.

Last year, according to the study, the top gun was a guy by the name of Ben Caballero, a proud Texan from Addison, a suburb of Dallas. Ben is a busy guy. My guess is that he is probably looking older than his age. He sold a staggering 2,267 transaction sides last year. That’s more than 6 per day! That’s about 44 per week!

In my main marketplace, the San Francisco Peninsula & the Silicon Valley, an agent who sells 44 homes/year is a hero, an agent who sells more than 100 is a machine! I’d love to meet Ben, if nothing else, just to find out whether he is a human being or an extraterrestrial. No matter what, I would definitely offer him a job!

To give you an idea about how big what he did is, the runner-up sold “only” 661 homes, roughly a quarter of the winning score. In all fairness, we should mention that Ben Caballero is not exactly your typical agent working for a traditional firm. First, he is actually the president of his company, HomesUSA.com. Second, his company caters particularly to homes builders, providing them with an on-line inventory management service. They capture & forward leads from syndication.

That’s not Ben’s only claim to fame. He also got the trophy for top sales volume with….$668,422,540! That’s more than double the previous record held 12 years by my friend, Tom Dallas, now associated with Intero Real Estate Services in Woodside. Of course, back in 2000, Tom won the top prize the “California Way”, that is with somewhere around 10 sales only, but BIG ONES! Can you believe that one guy can actually achieve 50% of the transaction volume of another with only 0.5% of the sales?

You accumulate the dollars a heck of a lot quicker when you sell a few homes over $20M and even over $50M. Of course, everybody would like to do that. Not easy though. Very few can.

Sure enough, the pros who make the top 250 list in units are not – or very rarely are – on the photo for the top dollar volume list. As an example, the #3 agent in terms of units, finished #131 in volume. As for #2, he did not make the top 250 list in dollar volume. I bet his average sales price is below $100,000.

So, here we are again: the vast majority of the dollar volume winners are high-end specialists, listing & selling multi-million dollar homes to the few buyers, domestic or foreigners, who can afford them. And, as usual, those top guns work in the priciest markets in the country.

Two States account for 76% of the top 100 sales professionals. The usual suspects you might say: California (46, distributed almost evenly between South & North) and New York (30). Florida ranks third with 5 superheroes, followed by Massachusetts and Colorado with 4 each.

So much for last year. We are now beyond the midway point in 2013. This year is shaping up to be another vintage year in the residential arena. As an industry, we are already well ahead of last year. Units are hard to come by due to a severe shortage of inventory, but price appreciation, in most areas, easily makes up for the modest pace on the units’ side.

As I did last year, I bet that, with the exception of a few ambitious, hard working, and gifted newcomers, the winners of 2013 will be the same agents who claimed top honors last year. That’s how it goes in the real estate business: the best are getting better. Places are limited at the top.