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REVEALED: The 10 best agents in Australia for 2017

By Tim Neary
28 April 2017 | 29 minute read

For the first time ever, the top 10 agents in the REB Top 100 Agents ranking are revealed in this exclusive podcast.

Listing and selling more property than all of the others, REB’s Top 100 Agents are Australia’s real estate elite. Listen today as we reveal the best of the best, the champions – the top 10 ranked real estate agents in Australia for 2017!

Subscribe to iTunes to get your weekly dose of the practices, actions and beliefs of the REB Top 100 Agents by clicking HERE.   

To view the full REB Top 100 Agents 2017 ranking, CLICK HERE.


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Full transcript

Intro: The Top 100 Agents are the best of the best. Listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the practices, actions and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian real estate. Raw, honest, and completely uncut. This special episode of the podcast is proudly sponsored by OpenAgent, Australia's #1 agent research service, making more than 5,000 connections between Australian sellers and real estate agents every month. To find out more, or sign up as a partner agent, visit openagent.com.au/agents.

Tim Neary: Good day, everyone. It's Tim Neary, here. I am editor of Real Estate Business, and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Really excited about this show today, it's a very special edition where we reveal the top 10 agents from the latest Top 100 Agents ranking for 2017. This is the very best of the best real estate agents in Australia. These are the folk that list and sell more property than any other real estate agent in the country, and to help me do it today, I'm joined by Phil Tarrant. Phil is the director here at Momentum Media, and also the driver behind our research business, Momentum Intelligence. Hello, Phil, and welcome to the show.

Phil Tarrant: All right, thanks for having me, Tim. I'm excited to be here.

Tim Neary: It's a big day for us, Phil.

Phil Tarrant: It is.

Tim Neary: We've been working on this for a long time, getting this list together.

Phil Tarrant: We have, yes.

Tim Neary: And before we get into it, let's just work through a couple of things. The process that we used has a lot of stuff that goes into it. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and maybe how it's changed over the years if it has changed?

Phil Tarrant: Sure, I'd be happy to do that, Tim. This is one of our flagship rankings here on Momentum Media, Real Estate Business in particular. The Top 100 Agents, it's synonymous with success in real estate, it has been for the last five years or so that we've been running it. When we originally launched this ranking, what we wanted to do was have a universal metric for recognising the best of the best in real estate, and when we first launched it, we went through so many different frameworks for how you can establish the best agents in Australia.

We've come up with some metrics in the methodology, which is consistent today, and what we do is that we rank agents on their ability to sell the number of properties, and the value of those properties, and then we look at the productivity of those agents. So those agents that sold the most for the highest amount typically do very well. So what we're looking for is high dollar average, what we're looking for is big volumes, and what we're looking for is a lot of properties sold. You stick all those together, and you get the Top 100 Agents.

Tim Neary: And we've seen... And I don't want to preempt anything we're going to talk about a little bit later, but we see some nice patterns coming out of this as we go, don't we? And what are some of those traits that we've seen so far?

Phil Tarrant: It's really interesting, and just so our listeners know, and obviously we have a lot of repeat people in our ranking, and I do thank them for their constant participation, but I know they do it for good reason. Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents, they use this as the vehicle to win more business.

Tim Neary: And so they should.

Phil Tarrant: They should do it, they're good agents. The guys, the top 100 agents, they're the people who are putting this recognition at the forefront of their marketing. These are the guys who are ensuring that whenever they get a listing presentation, they're reaffirming to the vendor why they should be chosen, and one of the reasons is they're a top 100 agent. I remember way back when... It was a year ago or so when McGrath listed, looking through their perspectives, which I was happy to see the fact they use this as a key metric for influencing people to invest in their business.

Tim Neary: It's true, yeah.

Phil Tarrant: They've got some of the best agents in the country, and McGrath, as they have done in this year's top 100, have performed very well, but they acknowledge the metric, they acknowledge what it takes to get into this list, as do all the other major franchise and independents. So in terms of trends and themes, when we sit there and the process to put together, everyone that's listening to this right now, or reading it on the website, they think it's probably pretty straightforward, but this takes months, and months, and months to prepare a whole bunch of checks and balances.

I'm not going to bang on about the methodology on air, and it's all here on the website so you can actually go and click and find out. But the process that goes into it, it's about the lodgement of the information, and then once we get that information, the rigour that we put in to ensure that the information that we get is as accurate as possible, we really drill down into it. So everyone needs to verify their numbers. Their accountant needs to verify their numbers, and/or the head office, if they're a franchise, need to verify their numbers, and these numbers are that they're their own sales, and these are the numbers that they did during that period of time.

For the 2017 ranking, we're talking about calendar year '16, so from January to December 2016. How many properties did you sell, and what was the value of those properties? So, that's very much the process that goes into place. Once we get all that information together, we run... And I'm not going to bore of all the details, some pretty intensive algorithm where we try and spot any anomalies. Anything that needs to be flagged, we checked, we clarify, and I imagine a lot of the people listening to this right now have got phone calls from us, because you made a lot of phone calls, and I made a lot of phone calls.

Tim Neary: And it's a good point that you made, Phil, and even some of these guys that we're going to talk about in the top 10 will recognise that they've had calls made to them, in terms of that rigour that you talk about, and those algorithms that throw out those... Nothing untoward, but just some of the things that sort of say to us we just need to have a little bit of a closer look.

Phil Tarrant: Well, you look at some of the numbers this year, and one of the biggest things that comes up, which might get a flag from us, is that if they have sold a lot more properties than they've listed. You would say, "Well, that doesn't make sense," but in reality if you have a look at it, this is about settled sales. So someone might've got a lot of listings a couple years ago for an off-the-plan, or a project development, and then they all settled during this month. So they might not have received the same amount of listings this year, but they settled all those properties this year, and therefore you see a bit of a skew, but there is a description behind it, there's a story behind it, and it all fits in the parameters of this ranking, so we're satisfied with it.

Tim Neary: It'll come up with a red flag, we make the call, we satisfy ourselves, we'll get the answer, and we know... In fact, there's one of our guys here that had a particularly interesting story this year, didn't he?

Phil Tarrant: Oh, definitely, and we'll go into it in detail a little bit later, but this guy's rocketed through the rankings, and he got a lot of settled sales, and there's a good reason why, and he's done very well. I spoke to him on the phone and he said, "Yeah, Phil. I've had an absolute cracking year."

So, that's what we want to recognise with the top 100 agents, but the trends we're seeing in this ranking versus say 2016, the top 100 as a whole? So as a collective, the top 100, they're doing about the same amount. There's plus or minus between 0-5 per cent variation in absolute numbers, and by absolute numbers, I'm talking about the number of sales. So last year, our top 100 did 9,012 sales. This year, 2017, they did 9,302. So 3 per cent different, sales are going up. We're going in the right direction, which is a good thing.

When you look at the total dollar value of sales in 2016, our top 100 did about $13.9 billion, I got that right. This year, they've done $14.2 billion. So that's an increase of about 2 per cent, so it's consistent, but it's going in the right way. When you look at the average number of sales per agent for our top 100, last year they did 90. This year they did 93, it's a 3% jump. When you look at the average dollar value of sales per agent, so not the number of sales, the dollar value. 2016 they did $139.7 million each. This year $142.2 million dollars each, 2 per cent increase.

Look at average sales price, they've dropped by 1 per cent. It's plus or minus, there's no real anomalies, but what it's saying to me is that the top 100 are getting better, but the top 100 that we have is pretty consistent, and these guys are driving ahead. Where the big difference is, is when you look at the best of the best. Not all top 100 agents, Tim, are created equal.

Tim Neary: It's so true. Phil, the way that you go through that is really good. I mean, there's some big numbers there, and your numerate skills just come to the fore.

Phil Tarrant: It actually threw me when I went, "Okay, actually that's $13.9 billion."

Tim Neary: That it does. That's a big number.

Phil Tarrant: That's a lot of money, right? It is a lot of money.

Tim Neary: It's a big number, but when you look at this from a helicopter point of view, we get this idea of what successful real estate agent looks like in Australia. Give us an idea of what you see there, Phil.

Phil Tarrant: I know a lot of the top 10 personally, and I've spent some time with them. So I know what makes the top 10 better than the other guys in the top 100, and consistency is key. These guys never have an off day. One of them, I was fortunate to tour Australia recently on a road show, and I spent a lot of time with him.

This guy never stops. He never ever stops. He hustles, hustles, hustles, hustles every single day. Same thing, persistence, repetition. He knows the process, he knows the drill, he knows the cycle, he doesn't deviate from it. He just gets the job done, and that's what makes a top 10 agent out of the top 100. I look at the numbers here from this year, these guys are accelerating, you know? There's probably about 70 per cent of them are consistent with last year, but they're accelerating.

When I look at, let's say, 2016 total number of sales for the top 10 agents was 1,264. This year, 1,555, increased by 23 per cent. That's a big jump compared to the collective top 100, it's only a 3 per cent increase. When I look at the dollar value of sales, $2.7 billion in 2016. This year, $3.187 billion. That's a big jump, 17 per cent. I look at their... Just as a collective, their average sales per agent last year, 126. This year, 156. 23 per cent increase.

Average dollar value of sales per agent last year, $273 million. This year, $318. 17% increase. These guys are rocketing along, they're just getting better.

Tim Neary: And they're just pulling away from the pack, aren't they?

Phil Tarrant: They are. I think you made an analogy, I'm not a cycling guy, but the peloton?

Tim Neary: Yeah.

Phil Tarrant: These guys are going to get harder, they're harder and harder to catch. Interestingly, and I'll tell people this, if these guys keep at this pace, they're going to very, very hard to catch up with. When I look at experience, right? So how long have these guys been in the game? The top 10 agents, 22 years’ experience. Compared to the collective top 100? 15 years’ experience. These guys, the top 100 agents, the average age? 44 years old. These guys, I know a lot of them, they've got plenty of life left in them, they've got plenty of energy… These guys, they'll crack on for another 20 years. So if they keep doing what they're doing, and this gaps gets bigger and bigger, they're going to be hard to catch, Tim.

Tim Neary: Yeah, we talked to a lot of these top 10 agents, and a lot of the stuff is consistent. They'll talk about the same thing, but one thing that strikes me about all of them is they all have this desire to be better. A lot of them work with coaches to make them better, and I said to them, "You're already at the top of you game. How come you're working with a coach?" They said, "You never want to rest, you never want to rest on your laurels, because otherwise you're going to get caught up, and start losing ground." It's a competitive industry, this.

Phil Tarrant: It is absolutely, and I'm not a real estate agent. I've never sold a property in my life. It's not what I do, but I know a lot of very good real estate agents. I know what they do, and how they do, and I look at what they do, and when I spend time with them I go, "How can I even emulate 10 per cent of what those guys do in my own job?" And it's a very different job, but how can I get that? How can I maintain that? How can I just embody some of these principles, ethics, ways they go about just running their lives that could make me perform better?

And real estate agents, the top 100 estate agents are the best sales guys in the business, and if you can emulate even 10 per cent of them, I think you're doing really well.

Tim Neary: I think that's good advice, Phil. All right then, is it time to go? Is it time to get to the business end?

Phil Tarrant: I think it's time to actually talk about who the top 10 are, and sorry if we've banged on a little bit, and everyone's waiting with baited breath, but I think it was important that we painted some pictures, and if I was going to summarise that conversation that we just had, Tim, I would say the best just keep getting better, the gap is getting wider. However, people can move into the top 10, and we've got some stories how they've done that from very lower ranks last year. So don't give up.

I know for a fact, if you called any of these top 10 agents, if you're a rival, they'll actually tell you what they do and how they do it.

Tim Neary: With pleasure.

Phil Tarrant: These guys, with pleasure. They want to see the whole real estate sector grow. They want to see the whole tide rise. They want to make sure that every agent in Australia has the tools and capabilities to emulate them. So my suggestion would be get on the phone, talk to these guys, because I know they'll speak to you, but let's get down to the top 10, Tim.

Tim Neary: To the business end. Let's do it.

Phil Tarrant: All right, Tim. At #10, $418 million in sales, 322 properties sold. Out of Strathfield, Strathfield Partners – Robert Pignataro. That's pretty good results. He's moved from #33 in 2016 to number 10. That's pretty good, isn't it, Tim?

Tim Neary: Really good.

Phil Tarrant: #9, $180 million dollars in sales, 106 sales. Out of Cronulla, Highland Property – David Highland. It's not a bad result, again.

Tim Neary: Another big mover into the top 10, Phil.

Phil Tarrant: It is a big move. He's gone from #37 to #9. Average sales price, $1.698 million, which is consistent with Cronulla. So he's doing quite well.

Tim Neary: Nice.

Phil Tarrant: #8, another big mover. Coming from #18 last year, $220 million dollars in sales, 130 sales. Out of Naremburn, which is Willoughby way, North Sydney, McGrath Estate Agents – Peter Chauncy. He'd be pretty happy with that, I'd imagine.

Tim Neary: That's a nice result for him, yeah.

Phil Tarrant: And he's rocketing, and I'm looking at the bottom four have all made a pretty grand entrance into this year's top 10, out of the top 100 agents. This guy, #7, more than anyone, moving from 71st last year into 7th position this year. $243.6 million dollars in sales, 99 properties. Average price, $2.461 million. Operating out of Vaucluse, McGrath Estate Agents – Peter Starr.

Tim Neary: It's a terrific result.

Phil Tarrant: It's a terrific result, and I had a chat with Peter, and I asked him to explain the strong performance, and he confirmed to me that, quote, "Phil, I've had an absolute cracking year."

Tim Neary: Cracker of a year.

Phil Tarrant: And he explained that he was fortunate enough to pick up one of the government contracts for a lot of the stuff in the rocks, ex-housing commission estate into private hands. He secured a lot of listings there, and a lot of them settled this year. So, he's pretty happy, and he should be congratulated. He's doing a very good job just to pick up that contract. I know McGrath was very fortunate it picked it up, and for good reason, their good operators, and he's done a really good job there.

#6 last year, #6 again this year, so holding firm with $329 million dollars in sales, 166 properties sold. Out of Hawthorn, Arteaga – Glen Coutinho. Glen, I hope you're listening, mate. Well done, enjoyed the road show with you early this year, and getting an insight into just the way top agents work, out of the top 100 agents, mate. And it just blew me away, just your level of intensity, and passion, and drive to do what you do. So, I think a lot of guys would look to emulate you, and as I said beforehand, I'm sure Glen would be happy to share his secrets to success, and he's very open with that.

#5, so dropping from #3 last year. $279 million dollars in sales for 122 properties sold, so average price, Tim, $2.283 million. From the Bondi Area, so North Bondi Way, Raine & Horne Agent, a very good one, Ric Serrao. He'd be pretty happy.

Tim Neary: He'd be very happy with that, and Ric's been on the show with us, here, Secrets of the Top 100, and he was very, very generous with his time. Following from what you said a little earlier about being available to other people that are coming up through the ranks, he's one of those guys as well.

Phil Tarrant: He is, absolutely. So, #4, we're getting up there. Getting close, and I imagine those four guys who are wondering where they're going to sit within this ranking-

Tim Neary: Drum roll?

Phil Tarrant: Total sales, Tim, $362 million dollars, 180 properties sold. A great performer out of Manly, Clarke and Humel –  Michael Clarke. Well done, Michael. That's a great result.

Tim Neary: Nice work.

Phil Tarrant: Someone moving up from #5 last year, to #3 this year. Just south of $400 million in sales, so $396.7 million for 99 properties. Out of Toorak, Marshall White – Marcus Chiminello. Well done, Marcus. That's a great result.

One of your colleges from Marshall White, #2, for $327 million dollars in sales, for 139 properties sold. I'm going to get this wrong, because I never pronounce it properly, Boroondara, which is a great suburb in Victoria, James Tostevin. Well done, James. So, with baited breath-

Tim Neary: This is it, mate.

Phil Tarrant: I imagine this guy knows how he's performed, and I was fortunate to spend some time with him earlier this year, sharing the secret to success in real estate, sales and this guy never stops. I think when I was with him, he sent about 50 tweets, taking photos of everything. He must've taken about 10 phone calls, and you know what? His phone calls, you'd think they... Really good real estate agents are on the phone all day, every day? They are, but they're lucky to make their phone calls more than one or two minutes long. They just high touch, high hustle, high intensity, great customer service.

This year's number one agent of the Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents is Alexander Phillips from Phillips Pantzer Donnelley. Operating out the Eastern Suburbs, a great result. Huge number in terms of dollar value, $432.6 million dollars in properties sold, that's huge. 192 properties sold, that's a lot of properties to sell. He's performed exceptionally well within his ranking, the top 10. He's number two in that regards. Average sale price, $2.253 million dollars. Obviously indicative of where he operates in the Eastern Suburbs.

He's done well, and you know what? He's aged 37 years old, so this is going to be a guy that's hard to catch.

Tim Neary: Terrific operator. Also been guest on the show, Phil, and I can tell you, I don't know that he won't mind me saying this, like a complete military precision operation, getting it and out. Doing the podcast, it was a real pleasure to have him on the show.

Phil Tarrant: You know, I had a chat with him, with Alexander, and it blew me away. He doesn't waste any time. I think you said it well, he just runs an extremely tight ship. When he's working, he's working. He's not doing it part-time, but I know he takes some time off every year as well, to get away, recharge, relax, enjoy himself. Don't think about work, but when he's working, he's working.

Tim Neary: He's working.

Phil Tarrant: Hence the reason why he's obviously in the top 10, but he's the #1 agent in Australia. I just like... A nice observation, Victoria versus New South Wales? We're recording out of New South Wales, so I'd like to point out that 70 per cent of our top 10 agents, out of top 100 are New South Wales. So, go New South Wales, but I'm not going to put our friends in Victoria down. I think they've held the line. They've done exceptionally well, dollar value, dollar volumes, very, very high. They've performed excellent, but I think my hat off to our top 10.

I think they are the absolute best of the best in real estate agents in Australia, and if I was a young agent, if I was a participant in the top 100, and I didn't make the top 100, or even if I'm not in the top 10, these are the guys who you want to emulate. These are the guys who you want to understand how they work. These are the guys who are going to be the people that you are trying to catch, and I'll tell you what, you're going to struggle. These guys are far ahead, but really good.

I enjoy doing this ranking, Tim. I think it's such a nice way to actually give some context to what it means to be a real estate agent. What it means to be successful in real estate, and just how good our industry, the real estate industry in Australia, it is a highly profession industry. The people who want to be full time agents are passionate about being the absolute best they can be, and I think importantly the value that they're delivering vendors is second to none. These are the guys who are doing it. These are the guys who are going to win the listings.

Tim Neary: I second that completely, and just as part of the team that's put this ranking together, and being involved in the process, the thing that stands out, to take your point as well, is that this is a highly competitive, highly sophisticated industry to be involved in, and those that play at the top end, play for real. It's not a part-time business.

They work hard, their systems are good, and they take it seriously, and to take that analogy of the cycling a little bit forward as well, anybody that's in the pack that wants to move up, needs to move up now, because these guys aren't going to slow down, and wait for anybody. They're going to keep moving, and they're going to keep moving quickly.

Phil Tarrant: And just a quick observation for our listeners, and it's an important one when you think about... Talk about JCI. How much money do you make? Right? You might be selling a lot of property, but what's your commission rate? I'm looking at the average commission rates for the top 100, 1.83 per cent. Compared to last year, last year, 1.84 per cent. So it's consistent.

Our top 10 of the top 100 real estate agents, it's very consistent as well. 1.82 per cent. So these guys are earning the same commission as everyone else in the top 100.

Tim Neary: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Phil Tarrant: You know, in terms of absolute percentage.

Tim Neary: No special favours, here.

Phil Tarrant: No special favours whatsoever, but these are the guys that you're going to be pitching against in listing presentation. Just remember that.

Tim Neary: Yeah.

Phil Tarrant: They're hard-going. Interestingly though, and this I'll finish with this point. One of the places where we've seen the most change from 2016 to 2017 is days on market. Last year, 25 average days on market. This year, 28 days on market.

Tim Neary: And that tells a story.

Phil Tarrant: It's the market. Obviously there's markets within markets. This is obviously heavily geared, because this is the top 100 agents, to New South Wales, and Queensland... Sorry, New South Wales and Victoria.

Tim Neary: Victoria.

Phil Tarrant: You put that, it's going to be Sydney and Melbourne, right? Because that's where the big dollar sales are, but top 100 agents, 25-28 days on market, and for the top 10 of that, it's gone from 21-23 days. So even this is impacting the top guys, as well as everyone else as well. Just an interesting observation, but I know, Tim, you want to get your hands on this data, because there are a thousand stories that you want to write off the back of it.

Tim Neary: Absolutely. It's so true, Phil, and it's very terrific, and as always, putting this together, there are so many different stories that we can extract out for our readers, and the listeners also. We really want to deep dive into this stuff, Phil, and over the next weeks and months, we're going to get obviously these guys into the studio to do the podcast with us, and talk to them about how they do their business, and then we'll put the stories out of there, from the podcast, to put up on the website RealEstateBusiness.com.au.

Phil Tarrant: I'll just summarise with this then. So our count down from 10 to 1. Robert Pignataro, #10. David Highland, #9. Peter Chauncy, #8. Peter Starr, #7. Glen Coutinho, #6. Ricardo Serrao, #5. Michael Clarke, #4. Marcus Chiminello, #3. James Tostevin, #2. Alexander Phillips from Phillips Pantzer Donnelley, well done, #1 agent of the Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents.

Tim Neary: What a fantastic result. Thank you Phil for joining me to share that information.

Phil Tarrant: Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me on Twitter @TimothyNeary if you want to do that. Remember also to tune in next week, remember also that realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find us. Get along there to see the full list of the 2017 Top 100 Agents, as well as plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.


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