Realtor production or customer satisfaction – importance and meaning of rankings

realtor rankingsWhat’s more important? The number of homes your real estate agent sells; or the customer service they provide?

#1 Real Estate Agent.” “#1 in Sales.” “Top 1% Nationwide Producer.” If you’ve spent some time with real estate agents, you may notice how many tout themselves as being #1. And although some of these rankings are legitimately given by a recognized organization; many agents may be creating their own production ranking designation to use for marketing purposes.

by Dan Krell © 2013

Ranking designations are used in various industries to demonstrate a superlative product, or excellent service. One of the most recognized organizations that bestow ranking designations is J.D. Power & Associates. J.D. Power & Associates is most notable for ranking customer satisfaction in the auto industry, but they also rank satisfaction and other industries including real estate. In fact, you may see the J.D. Power & Associates ranking on a home builder or national/regional broker.

Production ranking is more prevalent in the real estate industry, however, and there are a number of organizations that rank the production of agents, teams and brokers. With the growth of the internet, unofficial production rankings can be found on many home search and real estate data websites. REAL Trends ( is a company that is dedicated to providing analysis of the residential real estate industry, and offers real estate data online; the site provides agent, team and broker production rankings in the U.S. and Canada

The National Association of Realtors® has been toying with the idea of adding a ranking system on the consumer home search site (operated by The pilot program, called “AgentMatch,” has not been received well by many agents. There are concerns about the perceptions created by the displayed production statistics; some critics cite issues about statistics that may not be representative of production, which also may not tell the entire story behind of many transactions.

Another NAR initiative in agent ranking is a pilot program called the “Realtor Excellence Program.” Currently the program is being tested in several U.S. markets; and as a recent Chicago Tribune article (Realtor group testing agent ratings program, March 15, 2013; by Mary Ellen Podmolik) reported, it is being received well. What’s different about the “Realtor Excellence Program” from other agent ranking programs is that this program provides agent ranking through customer satisfaction. A quote from Laurie Janik, general counsel of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors® says it all, “I’m looking at reducing liability. I want happy sellers and happy buyers…Right now we measure agent performance based on how many deals they did…But was (the transaction) a train wreck?

This distinction between agent production and customer satisfaction is an important one. Although you might think that high volume production and customer satisfaction are not mutually exclusive, the relationship usually has some negative correlation; customer satisfaction typically takes a back seat when production goals increase. If a high volume real estate agent or team is invested in maintaining or growing their production, you need to ask about their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Many agents use national averages to determine that they are in the top percentile in production. Using these averages and stats, I also find myself in the “top tier” of various categories. Be that as it may, many consumers deem self promotion about production in a service industry as gauche and trivial. Many consumers are less interested in hiring agents whose focus is about being #1; rather, consumers want to be treated as #1.

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Disclaimer.  This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice.  Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction.  This article was originally published the week of November 18, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.