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Lessons Learned: 2020 REAL Trends + Tom Ferry Agent Rankings

We received over 14,600 applications from agents and teams for the 2020 edition of The REAL Trends + Tom Ferry The Thousand and America’s Best Real Estate Professionals reports. To qualify, individual agents had to do at least 50 closed sides or $20 million in closed sales volume, and for teams the minimum was 75 sides or $30 million volume.

Collectively, these agents and teams closed 10.5% of all closed transactions and 16.5% of all closed volume while representing less than 1.5% of all Realtors® (members of the National Association of Realtors®) in the country.

Here are a few trends we noted:

  1. Co-listings. The types and kinds of associations that agents are forming among themselves are morphing quickly from what we defined as individual agents and teams. Many individual agents now co-list with other agents to gain business and to share the workload and marketing. Groups of agents and teams are forming their own networks to offer broader coverage or custom services while sharing the costs of marketing and operations.
  2. Brokerage teams. There are teams that resemble brokerage firms and brokerage firms that now resemble teams. It’s clear that there will be more diversification among sales professionals than ever before. We also learned that brokerage firms and national networks are struggling with the challenge of using historic definitions of each model, just as we are.
  3. New business models. One relatively new business model entrant, for example, is Side Inc. This brokerage platform provides back-office business solutions to high-producing teams and individuals, including being the broker of record, while also leaving their agent-team clients alone with their own brand and methods of marketing and providing service. They appear to be gaining some traction in the markets where they operate.

We’re planning a wholesale review of how we do these rankings, in partnership with Tom Ferry and The Wall Street Journal, which will involve leaders from across the industry. This review will examine every part of the system, from classification, to collecting the data, verification and publication due to changes in the cross section of how agents and teams are formed and how they operate.

One other important factor we learned is that agents and teams want to be fairly classified and want a real verifiable ranking service. While we may have thought it was important, we learned that is more important than ever before, as is the dissemination of that data. We are also working on new ways to present the data so that searches are easier.

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