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It’s that time of year. The major 2017 real estate reports have been released, tallying the numbers and shining the spotlight on the biggest and most productive real estate brokerages across the country.

Among the most significant of these, of course, is RISMedia’s Power Broker Report, ranking the nation’s brokerages according to sales volume and transaction sides.

At face value, it’s always interesting to see who’s moved up or down, and who currently tops the Power Broker rankings. But if you look a little deeper, you also find a lot going on behind the numbers—and can gain a bit of insight into the brokerages and brands that appear on the list.

For example, with a little number crunching, you quickly realize that the highest-ranking brokerages don’t necessarily have the highest-producing agents.

What do I mean by this? How could a brokerage with more transactions and a higher ranking somehow have less productive agents?

It’s a question of agent count versus per-agent productivity. The brokerages in the Power Broker Report can be broken into two broad categories: 1) those with a lot of agents, a high cumulative sales total, and low per-agent productivity; and 2) those with not as many agents, a high cumulative sales total, and high per-agent productivity.

Take, for example, the brokerages ranked No. 9 and No. 10 according to transaction sides. The No. 9 firm closed 24,381 sides with 6,458 agents, while No. 10 closed nearly as many transactions (22,691) with just 1,001 agents.

Both transaction totals are impressive, for sure, but on a per-agent basis, the numbers reveal very different productivity levels. Agents at the No. 10 firm did almost seven times more business (averaging 22.7 sides per agent) than those at the higher-ranking No. 9 firm (averaging 3.8 sides per agent).

It’s All About the Approach

Does a stat like that say something about the two competitors? I think it does. I think it makes a clear statement about the different approaches and priorities of the different brands and networks.

Some brokerages among the Power Brokers prioritize agent count, and that’s fine. Virtually every firm wants to grow larger, but many firms that are driven by—and overly focused on—growth end up losing something important in terms of agent productivity.

The sweet spot is being able to recruit strategically, grow consistently and still maintain a razor-sharp focus on the metric that matters most: productivity. The firms in that mindset prioritize helping agents close sales and reach their own definitions of success. The result is a roster of productive agents who rave about the office and become the most powerful recruiting tool of all.

When the focus is on generating sales, you find leading education, tech services and networking opportunities designed to bolster business. You find agents who are sharpening their skills and gaining valuable experience through each successful closing. You find an environment and culture centered on the benefits—tangible or not—of hard work and achievement. It’s a great thing to be a part of.

Every real estate professional aspires to be with a top brokerage, no doubt about that. The question boils down to what you prefer—more agents or more transaction sides? Would you rather be with the biggest, or the best?

Geoff Lewis is president of RE/MAX, LLC.

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