How many homes do you think a real estate agent sells in a year? Ten? Maybe a couple dozen in a really good year? Well, it turns out the median agent does seven “sides” — that is, represents either a buyer or seller in a home transaction — in the course of a year. So it’s pretty remarkable that there’s an agent in Las Vegas who did 931 last year.
In fact, our Vegas mega-agent, Jared Jones of Horizon Realty Group, isn’t even the most successful agent in the country. According to a list known as “The Thousand,” put out each year by The Wall Street Journal with industry analysts REAL Trendson, he’s only No. 4. in the ranking by number of deals. (The Thousand is actually four sub-lists: Agents by dollar volume of deals, teams by dollar volume of deals, agents by number of transaction sides, and teams by number of transaction sides.) The top real estate pro on the list of agents by number of transaction sides, Mike Phillips of Kansas City, Mo., did 1,268 sides last year. That’s about four transactions a day.
(GALLERY: Top 10 Cities to Buy vs. Rent)
But it seemed particularly striking to me that agents were thriving on this scale even in places where real estate prices have been in the toilet. In Las Vegas, for example, Jones was joined by No. 7 Sue Nelson, and No. 67 Raymond Smith; meanwhile, No. 105 Diane Keane is in Delray Beach, Florida, and No. 231 Jack Coden is in Miami Beach.
So I called Jones to see if there were any broader lessons to learn or insights to be gleaned from his success.
I thought one theme might be the rise of the investor — 30 percent of homes are going to cash buyers, and the percentage is over half in distressed markets like Vegas and South Florida. Indeed, the 32-year-old agent – yes, he’s just 32 — explains that a large portion of Las Vegas sales (78%) are distressed properties, and they account for most of his business. “There are a lot of sales of bank-owned properties,” Jones says. “And there’s a large pre-foreclosure market — people who need to sell their homes to avoid foreclosure.” Meanwhile, Jones says he keeps his deal flow high by courting investors looking to purchase more than one property — especially those looking at public auctions of distressed properties with an eye toward turning the homes into rental properties.
And what advice does Jones have for non-agents mired in the current market? “If a seller is upside-down in their home and wants to sell, they should find the right short sale agent,” notes Jones, who says that prospective sellers should ask about an agent’s processing center and previous closings. “The key to getting short sales closed is persistence and a strong understanding of how the banks work.”
For primary residence buyers, on the other hand, “I think caution is the key,” Jones notes. “Make sure that you understand the deal that you are getting into — and do a home inspection!”