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What does it take to be considered one of the best real estate agents? REAL Trends and the Wall St. Journal are taking names for 2018’s “The 1000” list. It’s their annual ranking of “the top sales professionals in the United States by transaction sides and sales volume.”

It’s typically an interesting list, but we take issue with them calling those on it the “Best Real Estate Agents in America,” and for several reasons.

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When a real estate consumer is looking for “the best” agent in his or her market, how many deals the agent does or how much money she makes isn’t at the top of the list of qualities they’re seeking.

The buyer or seller, at least according to recent studies, values “responsiveness” overall. Then, local knowledge is high on the list. In fact, the agent’s productivity, at least according to a Zillow Group study, is fourth on a list of six criteria consumers use to judge the best real estate agents.

We all know that even the most productive agents can give lousy customer service, so naming the top producers as “the best” agents is, at least to us, misleading.

Have they forgotten that real estate is local?

How can a study compare an agent in a hot Seattle market with someone who worked 2017’s somewhat sluggish Kankakee, Illinois market?

The latter agent may have done a bang-up job for the type of market he was working, but because he didn’t have the huge dollar or transaction volume of the former agent, he is not considered among the nation’s best agents – at least to REAL Trends and the Wall Street Journal.

Alas, they didn’t consult us — or you — so we’ll take their word for who are the best agents in the country.

Want to join their ranks? Read on for some tips gleaned from poring over last year’s “The 1000” list.

1.Get into new home development

When it comes to transaction sides for individual agents, apparently nobody does it better than Ben Caballero of HomesUSA.com, Inc. in Addison, Texas, part of the Dallas metro area. He did a whopping 3,556 transaction last year. By comparison, the guy in the number two slot did 467 sides.

Caballero isn’t your typical real estate agent so I don’t understand how he was even allowed to compete against those who are. His clients aren’t real estate consumers, per se, but builders.

In fact, his company offers an “MLS interface for builders,” such as “Toll Brothers, CalAtlantic, Highland, Ashton Woods, First Texas, McGuyer, History Maker and many others.”

His website includes no information for the real estate consumer and, in fact, makes it explicit that builders should contact him “to learn how he can help your business.”

I suppose an agent who longs for that number-one spot could copy what Caballero has done. Or, the list-makers could get real and restrict the list to residential agents who work with consumers.

2.Be mistaken for an individual agent

Brian Bair takes the number two slot when it comes to transaction sides for individuals. If you ask us, he, too, shouldn’t be on this list at all. Owner of Bair Group/Liberty properties, he has a team and is far better suited for inclusion in the team category.

In fact, his bio admits that he has a team: “To date, he and his team have deployed over $100 Million in investment money.”

In fact, you need to scroll all the way down to the number six agent on the list to find a truly “individual” agent. His name is Tom Swarz and he’s an agent with RE/MAX in the Philadelphia metro.

Considering he doesn’t work with a team (at least as we were able to ascertain from his website), the fact that he did 405 transactions last year, pretty much puts him on par with those above him who have massive amounts of assistance. He truly should be in the number one spot of best real estate agents in this particular category.

3. The best real estate agents sell luxury property

Beautiful luxury mansion with manicured front lawn.

If you want to make the list in the “Individual by Sales Volume” category you need to specialize in luxury property. Although Mr. Caballero takes the number one spot in this category as well, the rest of those in the top 10 work in – yup, you guessed it – high-priced markets. These include:

  • Los Altos, California
  • New York, New York
  • Beverly Hills, California
  • Miami Beach, Florida
  • Malibu, California
  • Boston, Massachusetts

Interestingly, only two agents in the top 10 also show up on the Individual by Transaction Sides category (numbers 96 and 151), meaning that the rest are considered among the top agents in the country for selling fewer than 127 homes. So, if you want to make it to this list, sell high-priced homes or move to a high-priced market.

4.Become a big fish in a small pond

Paul Wellman of RE/MAX New Image in Saginaw, Michigan ranks as one of four agents in the number 249 spot on the 2017 REAL Trends Individuals list with 128 sides in 2016.

We don’t know about you, but we wonder how he dominates such a small, depressed housing market.

His bio doesn’t mention his tenure in the real estate industry, but it does say that at one time, he owned two RE/MAX franchises and received the “RE/MAX of Michigan New Franchise of the Year” award for “outstanding company operations, outstanding sales production, outstanding customer satisfaction, and outstanding agent growth.”

Obviously, the guy is a hard worker and apparently strives to be the one of the best real estate agents.

So, take your skills, hone them and head for a small pond.

Better yet, keep striving to deliver the service that real estate consumers demand. Hope that they review you on Yelp (where REAL consumers go to find out who is the best). That’s the list that counts.

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Owner & Operator,

Chad Hett

The Elite Group

 (800) 494-8998



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