Intero Reserve

The Luxury Insider: Believe it or not

Alain Pinel, Intero Reserve, July 8, 2014

One word of warning before you read this blog: if you are a Realtor and you have a weak heart, best you avoid the unnecessary emotional trauma the blog may cause…? Here is the shocker: Real Trends and The Wall Street Journal just released the results of their annual survey on “The Top 1000 Real Estate Professionals in 2013”. The numbers are amazing. “Amazing” is a euphemism in this case. Hard to believe, when you look at the stats, that we are still suffering from a weak economy. Some people are doing well, whether buyers or sellers, and their respective real estate agents are doing very well indeed. Judge for yourselves.

The top gun in the industry, for last year, is an agent by the name of Ben Caballero. Yes, the same guy who led the pack the year before. He is good, and he has a job on my team anytime he wants to. Here is why: Ben, a proud Texan from the town of Addison, sold an all-time record of $737,163,298! OK to read it again if you think your eyes are failing you or playing games.

Even more impressive (surreal?) is the fact that the $737M we are talking about consisted of….2095 sales! Yes, 2095 sales in just 1 year. That’s about 6 per day, including weekends. It would take something like 400 years for an average agent to duplicate the effort. Difficult.

Ben was ranked in the “Individual” category for the sake of this survey, but unless he tells me otherwise, I am going to assume that he has an army of team players helping him. Short of that, 365 full days & nights may not be enough to produce that kind of business.

Aside from this stratospheric achievement, the report for year 2013 mirrors, for the most part, what we observed the year before. You have two ways to look at & evaluate success in real estate: number of units/sales and dollar volume. Both are good. Dollar volume is better. Units don’t pay the bills; dollars do. Given the choice, agents would rather sell a $20M property than 100 homes at $200k a piece.

So let’s talk $ volume. Last year, 81 agents exceeded the magic threshold of $100M in volume. They were “only” 67 at accomplishing such feat in 2012. That’s one way to measure the extent of a healthy price appreciation all-over the country last year.

Sure enough, the pros who made the top dollar volume list are not anywhere close to the trophy list based on units, except for our friend Ben Caballero that is. I tried to find another top 10 dollar volume-agent in the units-category but, after reading the first 250 names with not a single match, my vision was getting blurry. I quit.

As was the case in 2012, two States stole the lion’s share of the high-end market, the usual suspects: California and New York. Together, they accounted for 65% of the top 100 winners. California finished ahead by many lengths, with 44 super-heroes, including 31 just in Southern California. The North was lagging behind at 13. Not a bad score considering the listings drought in the Bay Area.

New York had also a good showing, with 21 of their real estate pros among the top 100. Following, we find Florida with 13 top guns (more than twice as many as the year before), Illinois (5) and Massachusetts (4).

So much for last year. We are now beyond the midway point in 2014 and the market is holding up pretty good. We had a few hiccups along the way, but this year is shaping up to be another vintage year in the residential arena. With the challenging listing market that we have to deal with, sales are down in many parts of the country, but prices more than make up for the loss of units.

With this as a background, I bet that, with the exception of a few bright & ambitious newcomers, the top guns of 2014 will be the same agents who claimed the 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.