Beverly Hills · Malibu


Beverly Hills · Malibu

TRD: LA’s market makers – A ranking of top resi agents by on-market deals

TRD analysis features both high-end brokers and those who play the volume game

Stephen Shapiro and Ron Wynn each brokered $68 million in luxury sales across Los Angeles from late January through July. But they took very different paths to get there.

Shapiro, of Westside Estate Agency, closed just one on-market deal in that period. Wynn, of Compass, closed 45.

The Real Deal tallied the top-performing agents in L.A. County from Jan. 30 to July 30, using Multiple Listing Service home sales data. The data revealed a distinct trend: Agents can work their way to the head of the pack with a few home run deals, or can reach it by playing small ball, churning out low-seven-figure sales.

“They are always talking about the guy who did a $100 million deal,” Wynn said. “But what about the guys who are doing deals all the time?”

The MLS data also reflects an extraordinary period in the L.A. residential market, as sales hit a low point in April when coronavirus quarantine orders banned private showings, before rebounding by July.

Some of the top-producing luxury dealmakers said the MLS data presents a distorted picture, because it doesn’t account for many of L.A.’s priciest transactions that happen off-market. These include Jeffrey Katzenberg’s $125 million sale of his Beverly Hills mansion in August, which Westside co-founder and CEO Kurt Rappaport brokered.

Consequently, work of top agents like Santiago Arana of The Agency and Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland, among others, won’t be represented, they say.

“The Redfin numbers are more inaccurate than accurate,” said  Jeff Hyland, who leads Hilton & Hyland.

Life at the top

To evaluate sales agents’ performance, TRD set out parameters. If an agent represented a seller — or buyer — in a $5 million deal, that agent got credit for $5 million. If two agents worked on the sell- or buy- sides of that deal, each agent would be credited for $2.5 million. Essentially, the home’s closing price would get divided equally among the total number of agents included in the deal.

Most brokers agreed that at least 95 percent of L.A. County home sales — and the agents on the sale — appear on the MLS. “The non high-end market is plainly visible on the MLS,” said Michael Nourmand, president at Nourmand & Associates.

Nourmand defines “high-end” as properties of $10 million and up. “I would estimate about 20-25 percent of the high end is done off market,” he said. That portion, which doesn’t show up on the MLS, means any agent ranking will inevitably be incomplete and perhaps skew the final results, he said.

From Jan. 30 through July 30, Compass’ Chris Cortazzo was the top-ranked agent in L.A. County by sales volume, according to the ranking. He closed $171 million in residential transactions on 22 deals, all but one in Malibu. Kurt Rappaport was second with $140 million in sales volume across six transactions.

Rappaport, however, maintains his sales volume was far higher in the same period.

“I am definitely number one,” he said.

Besides Rappaport and Shapiro — who ranked 5th — luxury agents with enough on-market deals to place them near the top of the list include Hilton & Hyland’s Drew Fenton, who was sixth with $67.9 million in sales through July.

Several brokers interviewed agreed that Rappaport was the top producer through July. But they also noted that crediting agents for off-market deals is not as straightforward as on-market transactions, where agents on both sides of a deal are noted.

For off-market deals, the lack of listed agents means brokerage heads can swoop in and claim credit for deals where their colleagues did the lion’s share of the work. Plus, there’s often a game of musical chairs when it comes to which agents are representing the sellers.

Generally, meting out credit for the most expensive sales can be challenging, even for on-market deals. In December, Lachlan Murdoch’s $150 million purchase of the Chartwell Estate in Bel Air included several agents.

Things have gotten even more complicated for off-market deals. In May, the National Association of Realtors’ rule took effect that was supposed to curb off-market listings. Under the new measure, agents and their brokerages would get fined for “pocket listings,” or homes that are shopped without appearing on the MLS. Top L.A. luxury agents including Aaron Kirman of Compass strongly opposed the rule. Now, some of those agents claim they simply don’t market the properties at all.

“Marketing in the social media era is counterintuitive to the privacy my clients want,” Rappaport said. “In the really upper echelon of the price range, privacy is the most important thing.”

Click here to read the full article on therealdeal.com.

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