What Is a Top Producer Real Estate Agent?

Clients Might Not Care About an Agent's Number of Sales

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She walks, she talks, a top producer real estate agent crawls on her belly like a reptile. Number one agent in Denver. Top agent in Milwaukee. Best Laguna Beach agent on the face of the planet. Consumers have been blasted with similar types of advertising by competitive real estate agents, little of which might make sense, especially when all they claim to be better than the next guy. What can you believe?

And why do you even care?

Many sellers and buyers do not care if they hire a top producer real estate agent. Most people just want the job done and the job done well, ethically, honestly, and without a lot of drama. Others might worry that if an agent is a top producer, does it mean the agent is too busy to help them? Probably not. There is a stark difference between a top producer agent and, say, a megastar agent (extraordinary sale numbers, resulting in annual incomes of $500K to $1 million and up). It also depends on who ranks the production and how it is ranked.

For some agents, being a top producer means they have sold a million dollars worth of real estate, which today isn't saying much. When I started in the real estate business in the 1970s, a million-dollar producer was a big deal -- and I sold real estate then in Orange County, California, just south of the land of movie stars and swimming pools.

This was when the average sales price of a home was about $80,000. To claim membership in the million-dollar club, an agent could sell about one home a month.

Board of REALTOR®s Top Producer Standards

Even today, selling 12 homes a year (which equals one home every 30 days) can qualify an agent for top producer status, believe it or not.

In my Sacramento Board of REALTORS®, the qualification to reach Master's Club status varies in any given year between about $3 million and $5 million in sales, with a minimum of 8 or so transactions, meaning the requirements are less than one transaction per month to qualify. 

By comparison, the Chicago Association of REALTORS® names Top Producers in categories exceeding 180 units to those who close 20 units or more, all the way down to $5 million or so in dollar volume production. Each REALTOR® trade association across the country carries its own requirements for top producers. The requirements to qualify tend to change depending on market conditions.

Real Estate Brokerage Top Producer Standards

Each major real estate brokerage also offers its agents annual rewards for production. Century 21, for example, offers world awards, office and company awards, sporting familiar names such as Gold or Platinum, President or Ambassador, awards for regional production, service awards, including the Top 10 and the Preferred Agent Club. ReMax celebrates its agents' successes by handing out awards for the 100 Percent Club, Platinum Club, Chairman's Club and Diamond Award, among others.

If you're like me, you might wonder which is better?

Is it gold or platinum? I must have skipped that part in high school about the hierarchy of metallic elements. They say platinum is more precious than gold but tell that to a woman longing for a pair of gold hoop earrings.

Individual Agent Top Producer Standards

Because this is a free county, real estate agents are allowed to advertise their achievements in just about any manner they choose, as long as the advertising is truthful and honest. Some agents take liberties others might not utilize and employ what is known as "puffing" or in regular circles, a big, fat lie. They might put a sign on a listing that says they are the #1 Neighborhood Specialist, but that designation could exist solely in their minds. You should ask an agent to qualify that sort of statement.

Some real estate agents might use the number of homes sold to justify a #1 status.

As long as that agent has sold more homes than any other agent in the named territory, it could be a justified statement. On the other hand, let's consider an agent who sold maybe only 10 homes but each was a million dollars or more, boosting that agent's dollar volume production to more than $10 million. If another Top Producer agent sold 50 homes but his production fell under $10 million, the agent who sold more than $10 million can also claim number one Top Producer status based on dollar volume. Confused yet?

Local Top Producer Standards

These top producer standards can also be established by an individual, a real estate team and ranked against all agents or ranked against just the agents in a particular brokerage. An agent might claim to be the Top Producer for all of south Florida, or just the County of Dade, or the city of Miami, or even the neighborhood of South Beach, all the way down to selling the most oceanfront homes on Ocean Drive as the Top Producer of Ocean Drive.

Agents will always try to find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Look for status qualifiers and form your own opinion. If you're unclear about an agent's advertising or claim, ask the agent to explain it to you. But don't hire an agent based solely on an agent's award or self-imposed claim to greatness. Hire an agent you trust and like, with the experience required to close your transaction.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, BRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.