How The Top 5 Agents Win in Real Estate

Succeeding in Real Estate is tough. Succeeding in Real Estate in the 21st Century, is an art. So what is the formula for success? How are top producers so good at what they do? In this article we take a look at some of the top producers in the industry and deconstruct how they present themselves, as well as a few juicy details on their sales volumes. Their secrets to success? It could be simpler than you think.


Every year REAL Trends and Wall Street Journal create ‘The Thousand’ 1, a list of the top teams and professionals in real estate each year. We keep an eye on their list and were surprised to see some very big shifts in the top 5 positions, between 2012 and 2013. Here’s the top 5 performers by volume, and a bit of insight into their practices:

##1. Ben Caballero,

Coming in at a whopping US$ 668,422,7462, Ben’s sales volume is head and shoulders above the pack. Crowned with title of Most Innovative Real Estate Agent of 2013 by Inman3, Ben has powered into the top spot for number of homes sold as well as volume. A pretty impressive feat for someone who wasn’t on the list last year. Ben’s not a newcomer though, and works to reform listing syndication portals as Chairman and President of the National Assocation of Real Estate Professionals.

##2. Serena Boardman, Sotheby’s International Realty/NRT

Serena4 has jumped up three positions on the list since 2012. With a total sales volume of US$ 393,742,540 Serena is, according to Candace Taylor on Real Deal, Boardman, a perfect triple threat of “talent, drive and impeccable connections to high-net-worth clients”5. It takes hard work to get to the top of the Manhattan propertybase market, so based on her previous performance, Serena’s rise to second place is no surprise to us. With a consistent track record for excellence and high profile sales, Serena looks like she’s still only getting warmed up. Watch out first place.

##3. Mauricio Umansky, The Agency

Newcomer to the top 5 in 2013 is Mauricio Umansky, whose sales volume equated to US$ 378,941,197.

Mauricio is CEO of The Agency6, a seriously trendy real estate firm. With Heather Bilyeu of Million Dollar Listing one of their newest team members, they provide personlized end-to-end marketing, listing and sales experiences. We even love their tag line – Redefining real estate. Here’s some of what you can find on their About Us page;

We collaborate with clients to design and implement a tailored, full-service marketing strategy for each new listing at The Agency, utilizing our relationships with traditional and new media outlets – and leveraging the most emergent technologies and social media strategies – to ensure maximum exposure for every property we represent.

The excerpt gives you an idea of what ‘The Agency’ is all about in their quest to change how agencies service the clients … and we like it.

With an amazing brand, talent with serious social clout, and an active blog, The Agency is poised to become one of the biggest names and authorities in real estate. Throw in the fact that they believe in collaboration and throwing away the slick cut throat brokers image, they have definitely crafted themselves a recipe for success.

4. Kurt Rappaport, Westside Estate Agency

Kurt is another list newcomer, rolling into fourth spot with a total sales volume of US$ 346,340,554. A real estate star in his own right, Kurt is well known in the celebrity real estate circuit.

In L.A., you don’t buy or sell a major home without Kurt Rappaport … I would refer him to anyone. – Robert Evans, Former President of Paramount Pictures7

Now that’s some serious endorsement! The article goes on to say that a majority of Kurt’s business is referral, which makes a lot of sense for someone dealing with clients who need privacy and discretion. With such a strong focus on his referrals, it is little wonder that Kurt’s online presence is hard to track down. If that’s what works for Kurt, then we say keep riding the wave my friend. Just don’t forget to write that tell-all memoir about all your fabulously glamorous clients one day, and all the crazy stories of a celebrity property specialist.

##5. Jade Mills, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/NRT

It was only a matter of time before Jade8 got into the top 5. With a sales volume of $USD338,961,845, being in the top 5 is just the icing on top of the very big cake that is Jade’s stellar career thus far. Named #1 agent in the world for 2012 by Coldwell Banker, Jade has been creating an incredible reputation in real estate for a number of years.

We’re not sure if we could have hoped for a better line up in the top 5 this year, but it has been extremely refreshing to see some of the newer brands disrupting the top 5 positions on the list. As a way to contextualize the achievements of these agents, it’s useful to see their company name beside their own. Most of these agents do not work alone, and are supported by incredible infrastructure and brand recognition that help them achieve such large sales volumes. We’re sure they work super hard, but it always helps to have support.

Data on the list can never be perfect though. An article published on ‘The Notorious Rob’9 raised some poignant questions about the legitimacy of side claims on the list, and how they could be manipulated.

Personally, we really like reading The Thousand when it comes out every year. If nothing else it helps see who is creating shifts and stirring up the industry. If there is one takeaway from the top five, it’s that quality will get you amazing referrals. Those companies that build sales quickly will rise and fall from the list, but those that cultivate a meaningful reputation through referrals and quality customer service, will be seen on the list year in and year out on the list.

So how do you feel about ‘The Thousand’ list for 2013? Did you have any key takeaways from this years top 5? Sound off in the comments, and remember to share this article with your high achieving colleagues.

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