Profile picture for creative destruction

How much business are agents really doing these days?

It seems to me there are way too many agents and far too few homes selling for everyone to be making a living in real estate...how can you know if an agent really does have current sales and is active in the market and avoid agents that aren't doing anything?
  • December 08 2010 - San Jose
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (36)

I believe word of mouth and friend (sphere) referrals are the most powerful.  Anyone can look good on paper (or computer screen) but nothing can out weigh the benefit of actually working with someone for a period of time.
  • April 21 2011
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Keen observation from Connie (we work the same neighborhood). The fact is that opportunities exist in every market. At the rate I am closing this year, I should be able to crack $20M in transactions relatively easily.

It is a function of drive more than anything. If you have mouths to feed, you will get it done! 
  • March 30 2011
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2% have always done the brunt of the business...nothing has changed... find an agent you connect with, can help you learn (knowledge is power) and trust...oh and that has invested in the feild they deal in ie: own property...

I'm doing more units now ... many have waited since 1997 for this market to return.. business is booming...good luck
  • February 06 2011
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I'm doing quite a bit more than in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  This is due, in part, to the fact that property prices are now so low in my market (Suncoast, Florida) that buyers are getting back in.  There are excellent points made below and I'd add that I made the decision to specialize primarily in buyers after being mainly a listing agent.  I found that the number one complaint I hear from buyers I meet newly is that listing agents don't call them back when they inquire about a listing.  Thus, part of the answer to your question depends on whether you are looking for an agent who to help you sell your property or help you buy one.
  • January 17 2011
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Dear Creative,

One way to find an active agent is to go to the website of your local Realtor Association, in my area is would be Seattle King County Association of Realtors and take a look at their registered membership roster.  Another alternative would be to go to a Real Estate Company's website and look at their staff roster.  Most company's will have a link to each agent's listings.  Be careful to interview an agent, just because they have a number of listings doesn't mean that they are the right fit for your purposes.  Some buyer agents don't take listings so they can concentrate on finding their buyers the right home.  You can of course always ask an agent, how many clients are you currently working with? Or how many successful transactions have you been invlolved over the past few years? 

Good luck!
  • January 13 2011
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Profile picture for ColleenPye
I have always said... HOW can real estate be dead? People grow families, get married, downsize, upsize, divorce... LIFE goes on, and real estate GOES on. I love it when people ask.. IT is alive and well. With the growth of social media.. it is even more alive
  • January 13 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Yes and no. That agent I mentioned would sue anyone who dared to give her a bad review even if it was legitimate so her reviews would only represent the happy people.

I appreciate reviews, but they have limits. There is a lender on Zillow who threatened a dissatisfied client that left a bad review. He said that if they did not agree to take their honest bad review down that they would do their best to make sure that the reviewer did not get a mortgage due to "pending litigation." Not nice. the reviewer stood their ground on that one, but most would not have.

Locally, I took referrals from people that I knew when I was looking to buy. The agents that I interviewed came recommended highly, but they were not my cup of tea. Agents are professionals and they have many components to their job, but what I want in an agent is not what everyone wants. I want market knowledge, I want honesty, I want respect for my point of view and I want to hear their professional opinion explained even if I ultimately disagree and decide to do something different.

Many choose numbers alone. Many others choose personality alone. I tend to prefer a blend. What I want in an agent I have never gotten in a referral from someone else since my criteria are a bit different from people that I know. I find open houses to be a quick way to meet a lot of agents in one day without any downside. I can call them if I want to talk to them more and if I don't like them I don't ever have to hear from them again. Everyone has a system, but that one has worked well for me.
  • January 11 2011
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Profile picture for creative destruction
Re: "The" Kathleen Turner??? (jk)

Thanks for actually answering the question...i guess people don't read anymore.  Thank you, also, for the honesty.

Re: Sunnyview

Point well taken.  If that data were readily available, would you use it as a starting point to identify a batch of agents to interview?  Would you also use that information as leverage to better negotiate a commission rate?

Also, I know some "crazy" agents as well who also do a moderate volume of sales...wouldn't use them either.  Do you think, if not having known her, a glimpse at reviews (if mixed reviews) would help you choose whether or not to interview her?
  • January 11 2011
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It's truly important for you to interview your perspective agent.  When deciding who you want to sell your house you have to decide yourself if you truly want to sell your home and take that persons advice.  Too of ten homes are overpriced and many agents will take any listing and let the owner set the price just to get the listing.

It's your home and your equity so it is important to give clients the necessary information so that they can price their home correctly in this market.  If you overprice you are wasting not only time but your best opportunity to sell your home quickly and for the highest dollar amount.

When choosing a Realtor to help you buy it is important to find one who will listen to you and take the time to get to know your needs.  You need to decide if this is a person you can work with to make this most important financial decision and you also need to make sure they will be there for you every step of the way.
  • January 11 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I would use that information if it was readily available, but I can't say that I would pick an agent solely on the basis of it. I have met some great, smart and honest top producers, but I have also met some sleazy, lying and dismissive top producers.

Numbers are important, but they are not everything. Reviews are generally helpful, but not too many people will publicly dump on a bad agent due to the fear of legal harassment even if they have legitimate complaints. One of the top brokers in the town where I live is crazy. She is a top producer who is also an abusive manic depressive. The client that love her have seen her when she is up. The clients that hate her have endured abusive phone calls at all hours, her entering their house for showing without notice and angry yelling tirades if they refuse low ball offers.

Under your system, she would be a top choice, but I would never hire her or use her for obvious reasons. Picking an agent is not all numbers and thankfully there are agents to suit almost every buyer or seller. I think the trick is to look at numbers, talk to the agent and then trust your gut on the rest that you can't see.
  • January 11 2011
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Interesting how a lot of "answers" to your question, do not answer your question at all! 

So in answer to your question of how much business am I doing these day - not as much as I would like and its my fault alone, and not that of this "bad" market. Let me explain.

I have been an agent in the Charlotte, NC market for about 10 years. 2010 was my worst year ever. I was down about a fourth in volume and about by half in income over, say 2008. I should tell you that I was my office's top sales agent in 2007, 2008 & 2009. Beginning in the Spring 2010, I started questioning what I was doing in real estate and what else I could possibly do for a living. I  could not come up with an answer for that one so, I stayed. Mind you, I stayed busy with my business still steady and a sales volume that pretty much mirrored that of other top producing agents in the area. I began to dread calling clients; I hated going into the office. I knew I was in trouble. I had to decide to sink or swim.

I decided to make a commitment to growing my business. I began attending market-relevant seminars & classes, upped my networking and made lunch dates with agents I perceived to be more successful than myself and really picked their brains. I made a commitment to only surround myself with those whom valued positivity & excellence. By the end of September, I was ready to change Real Estate companies and oin a firm that puts a high value on systems, consistancy & accountabilty. 

I have a lot of bad habits to break. I think that I have truly been successful despite myself. Am I doing the amount of business I want or for that matter, should be doing right now? No, but I am completely changing the manner in which I run my business. There is plenty of business out there - people have to live somewhere. I am preparing myself to better go after my share. I am working to set up systems and am leveraging my income producing time better by hiring listing and closing assistants. I am also adding a buyer assistant.

Ask me same question next year!
 
PS - the best way to find a good agent is through referrals from trusted friends - they will tell you the truth about their experiences!
  • January 11 2011
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Profile picture for creative destruction
Re: Pasadenan

Thanks for your answer but I think your analogy to a car dealership & car dealer is pretty poor.  Some real estate agents may be sleazy like car dealers, but I think the similarities stop there.  

People choose a used-car dealer based on their inventory and a new car dealer based on the car they already want and who is close by. Conversely, real estate agents can show you any inventory they want so the decision to choose one agent over another has less to do with the inventory and more to do with the qualities of the agent.

I agree with you about any so-called "training" being worth anything when it comes to real world sales.  Nevertheless, no one does 300 transactions in a week and there is more to a transaction than the purchase contract, which is longer in California.

I'm not sure what NAR myths are being perpetuated in this thread but here is my assessment of the criteria for a good agent:

1. recent sales: the fact that the agent is active and has recent experience with current contracts, disclosures, and troubleshooting problems

2. avg. days on market: only relevant for listing agents, but a good indicator of their ability to work with clients who are realistic and set a good value to a home

3. Avg. Sale Price/List Price %: The closer to 100% for listing agents the better, the further away from 100% for buyers agents the better.

4. Conversion Rate: how many listings turn into sales (for Listing Agents)?

5. Customer Reviews: how do past clients feel about the service they received.

6. is their license active: I met someone at an open house who wasn't licensed and I couldn't believe he was actually "representing" someone.

Pasadenan, If you could actually see all of these stats in one place, for all the agents in your neighborhood, would you feel it was empowering to you?  Would you use it to find an agent to work with?
  • January 11 2011
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Just wanted to say, Joan is "right", and her answer agrees with what I already posted.

No one goes to a car dealer and selects a car dealer based on how much money the sales person made.  So why do you want to do that for a house?

I already outlined the criterion that should be used for selecting a listing agent, and a different set of criterion that should be used for selecting a buyer's representative (selling agent), so why would a consumer want to perpetuate NAR myths instead anyway?

And remember, "2 weeks of intensive training", a test that takes part of a day, and "a contract a whole 5 pages long".  A person can be closing 300 house sales every week, and still have them stay on the market 5 years before closing.  If an agent tells you they are the "best" due to their "top sales", steer as far away from them as possible!

video
  • January 10 2011
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 Creative,
I can't deny the value of experience, obviously.
But you can't deny the value of time and enthusiasm.
To my mind, I can use my broker's experience coupled with my time and enthusiasm and voila!  Good things happen!

The weird thing I have found out about this business is that with few exceptions, the biggest complaints I have personally heard from people dealing with agents is regarding the "busy" agents.  This business is like many in sales-  the more people see your name, the more they assume that you are a "good" agent and will hire you.  And the cycle continues, not always logically.

Unfortunately, there is not always a sound basis for hiring the agent who's name is everywhere.  Its based on name recognition but if you dig deeper, the service that agent gives is often lacking.  Perhaps they are too busy, too complacent, too willing to leave the managing of their accounts to lesser agents or too arrogant.  I'm not saying that all successful agents are bad, just that busy agents are often busy because someone saw their face somewhere, not because they are actually good agents. 

I go above and beyond for the people who give me a chance precisely because I am given the chance.  I take this business very seriously-  I am not complacent in any way about the fact that I am helping people sell and/or buy the largest asset of most people's lives.  Hopefully this is how all agents, whether they are busy or not, feel.  The difference is I actually have the time to prove it to the people who give me that chance.

People aren't knocking down my door because I am honest that I don't have a lot of experience, they don't see my name everywhere and they assume that means that I can't do for them what other agents can.  If I didn't have a great broker and office backing me up, I would agree with them.

I personally believe that as important as experience is (which is why my broker is invaluable to me) enthusiasm, time, ethics, honesty, listening and communication skills are just as valuable.  As I stated before, I am admittedly biased but I also truly believe this.

Sorry, stepping off my soapbox now.  I guess you could say that I'm....in a mood. 



  • January 10 2011
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Profile picture for creative destruction
Re: Robyn

Fair enough.  Based on your past year, how do you compare to other agents in your market?

Re: Larry

It seems you are doing a little more business than these others here...how do you react to a comment like Joan's?

Re: Ed

I'm sure there is enough business for everyone but there are some doing way more than others.  Where do you stand vs. other agents in your market and how do you demonstrate to a potential client that you are better than another agent?

Re: Joan

I tend to think busy agents are busy for a reason. They might not have all the time in the world but i'd rather have experience on my side.  Those agents are likely have a staff for support to delegate certain parts of the transaction, like paperwork filing and other behind the scenes stuff, so the agent can be more available to the clients.  If they're so busy and treating their clients so poorly, why aren't people knocking down your door?


Being relatively new in the business, can you say that you have better transactional knowledge and experienced a variety of problems in the process as someone doing 2, 3, 4, or 5 times the business you did in 2010?  I just can't believe that you can come by this experience with just a few homes sales in a year.  

It the same as saying a doctor who performs one surgery a year is just as excellent as one who performs 20.  My guess is the one with 20 has much more experience in his field, seen more adverse scenarios that he had to solve, and could better serve his patients...even if he has less time on his hands.
  • January 10 2011
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To me, if you want to find an agent who is qualified, full time and will do a great job for you, this isn't the question to ask.  A busy agent is one who won't necessarily have the time for you.

I'm a little biased.  I'm a newish agent who came into this business at a really tough time so I'm mostly busy at a lot of wheel spinning. The amount of transactions I have completed in the last year was....well lets just say that I barely covered the grocery bill. 

That doesn't mean that I won't do a great job for the people who hire me.  I tend to think the opposite-  I have everything to prove, the time to prove it and will go above and beyond to do just that.  I have a great broker with many years of experience who will make sure that I am doing everything I should and nothing I shouldn't.

Of course experience counts for a lot and I do believe that hiring a part time agent can leave you at a huge disadvantage.  My point is that busiest isn't always best and those of us who are struggling may just be having a tough time getting traction during a really rough time for RE.

Sorry, just wanted to put that out there.  Thanks for listening.
  • January 10 2011
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Great question and every buyer should be asking themselves this. Weh interviewing a buyer Broker ask them to document the number of transactions they succesfully closed in the past twelve months.

Active agents will be closing at least one a month, I closedabout 1.5 a month last year and will close on 5 transaction before the end of November.

  • January 10 2011
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I have found that their is enough business for everybody in the San Diego area.  You have to be constantly prospecting and give great service and the business will take care of itself.  It is not doom and gloom you just have to know where to look and who to help.

One way to find out if the agent is working and active is to ask.  Ask them to explain the experience and sales in the area and how they can best serve you.
  • January 09 2011
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Profile picture for Robyn The Realtor
What a great question!  And, one that I ask myself.  How do I prove I am a busy working reliable Texas Realtor.  I have had cleints ask, and also tell me how I was their chosen Realtor.

1.  They looked on Google and Zillow.  Our buyers are not listed, but the homes for sale are. 
2.  Ask for references!  I carry a list of 15 buyers from the previous year for a new client.  I want them to be completely comfortable and trust me. 
3.  A great agent will have the process outlined and available.  It's the only way we can take care of many clients and all feel represented.


Hope this Helps! Robyn Bullard
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  • January 06 2011
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I love the question.  We are leaders of a team of 8 agents (in the Atlanta area) and have been super busy this past year. 

This may seem backwards to you, but:

The busy agent is the one who answers their phone
The busy agent is the one who responds to your e-mail
The busy agent is the one who will work around your schedule

Now, while it seems that an agent who isn't busy would do all of these things for you -- it is precisely that they never do these things that they are not busy.

  • January 06 2011
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I am lucky enough to have gotten many referrals this year and it has kept my business steady. Nothing overwhelming, but not slow either. Persistence pays off. [link removed by moderator]
  • December 21 2010
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it is never about how many homes an agent has sold. It is always about trust in  the agent involved in each transaction: their  knowledge about the product, the market, and the overall "sense" of the  the deal and how to proceed  Negotiation, mediation, bringing people together, these are the concepts which should be guiding our industry,
  • December 21 2010
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You merely need to make an appointment at the RE office asking how many transactions he/she had last 12 months and substantiate with with MLS
completions with their name on it.

There are listing agent and buyer agent. Many busy listing agents aren't willing to drive a client all over town as they wish to focus on listings. Some active agents aren't productive. On the other side there are agents looking for clients and are willing to take on a prospect.  

Normally at the interview the client gets a pretty good feel if the agent is qualified and the agent has even a better feel if the client is ready & willing. That works both ways. 


  • December 21 2010
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Profile picture for creative destruction
Wow Victor.  You've doubled your business...prove it.  Better yet, show me that in doubling your business you are actually selling more than your peers.  How much are your peers selling vs. your sales?
  • December 21 2010
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It's all about how hard you want to work. I've more than doubled by marketing and it's paid off. The more you're willing to work and put yourself out there, the more likely you are to get hired. The kinds of properties you focus on also has an effect on how much business you'll do. Look on the MLS to find reports on local realtors and their activity to see how much volume they're doing, but also talk to several in order to see which one you'll get along with the best.
  • December 21 2010
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I have one rule.
If business is slipping it means my marketing is slipping.
Homes always sell and buyers always buy.
  • December 18 2010
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Hello Angie,

The old saying goes  20% of the agents sell 80% of the homes.

You can visit www.dre.ca.gov and check the license status on your agent.  This  will let you know how long they have been in business,not how many transactions they have had.

When interviewing an agent ask for a  spreadsheet on the homes they have sold and references.   Make sure your personality matches and you can work together.

Now more than ever it is important to work with an active agent.  Agents writing offers know what is happening in the market and can guide you in the process.

Best of luck
Ruth  Mistry
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  • December 18 2010
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If you want printable MLS facts ask them to provide their current activity and past history.  Ask around, friends, family and co-workers see if they know who is productive that they would recommend.  Do research on house searching sites of who is listing and selling houses in the area that you are inquiring into.  Than make sure you interview several. Using a listing agent or buyers agent who has 100 properties, probably isn't going to get you much personal attention.  Using an agent with no listings or buyers, probably won't yield a desired result.  Split the difference, find a go getter that can make you a priority.
  • December 10 2010
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I think anyone in any job or business is working harder for less money and real estate agents are no exception. I believe the early bird gets the worm, so you got to be on top of it and offer better service than anyone else. I just make sure my clients needs are my highest priority.
  • December 09 2010
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Profile picture for Jesse Madison
The truth is that most agents are not doing very many deals these days. There is limited inventory and it is difficult to get offers accepted. There are many deals that are taking much longer than normal and fall out of escrow due to short sale delays. Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC REO agents are doing the most business and the rest has greatly fallen off. Things should pick up after the holidays.

  • December 09 2010
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