One of the most common questions we receive here at Information Central from members is “where do I rank nationally as a REALTOR®?” A definitive answer is harder to come by than it would seem.
While Real Trends releases a list of the Top 500 firms, ranked by both volume and sides, it doesn’t give information on individual agents or teams within firms. Similarly, in the past REALTOR Magazine listed the top 100 agents by either production or sides, but a few years ago it switched to ranking the top 100 firms (links to the current and past lists as well as information on how to apply, are available here). When individual agents and teams were ranked, the magazine relied on individual boards or brokers to verify agent submissions.
While self-submission lacks the credibility of third-party verification, the independent and fragmented state of real estate in the U.S. makes ranking all agents very difficult. No one source collects data on all agent-assisted transactions. Now, some websites are claiming to offer rankings – or at least user feedback/customer service rankings – to help the public select a REALTOR. However, this article from the AP discusses just how unscientific and spotty these rankings can be. Most sites, such as HomeGain and AgentRank, rely on client feedback, but at lease for the time being agents need to alert their clients to submit reviews. Other sites, like Incredible Agents, gather agents names from state licensing authorities, leading to a wide but paper thin database of names. Anyone can post a review, but many listings are lying dormant.
So what’s the problem? First, for most people buying or selling a house is an infrequent and confusing process. When you only move once every 7 years or so, it’s hard to figure out what makes for a great agent. Often it’s just enough to make it through closing relatively unscathed. And even when you have a good idea of what tools an agent should be using, what makes an agent ‘great’ is somewhat subjective – the hands off, but great service approach will appeal to some, while other clients will be looking for more hand holding. Some will want all communication to come via text or email while others will want you to drive them to all the listings personally. Until one site can capture the spotlight, garnering enough attention to generate a depth of responses, the value of these rankings will remain limited.