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Top 50 Sales Offices 2014

By James Mitchell & Steven Cross
10 March 2014 | 18 minute read

The country’s top performing sales offices have battled it out for honours in this year’s REB Top 50 Sales Offices ranking – now in its second year – making it a key benchmark for the industry

Jump to the full rankings

A word from our sponsor:
Agentbox is proud to sponsor the benchmark REB Top 50 Sales Offices ranking. The report underpins the key fundamentals on which our own software company is based: efficiency, maximising your marketing efforts and reducing business costs that allow agencies to become elite performers. Agentbox is a fantastic tool to improve your office on all levels; to use data quickly and effectively to make the most of your time and run a profitable business. Congratulations to all who have made the list and have demonstrated these efficiencies and best practise, which we also embrace in our own company.

Introduction

Over the past 12 months the success of real estate agents nationwide has been nothing short of astounding. Australia is now in its 22nd year of consecutive economic growth, a run that is paying dividends for principals and licensees across the board.

The REB Top 50 Sales Offices report, sponsored by Agent Box – now in its second year – provides a comprehensive cross-section of the industry’s key players.

Whether it’s a new entrant or an office that has moved up the ranks, Real Estate Business wishes to congratulate the Top 50 Sales Offices that made the grade for the financial year 2012/2013 (FY 12/13).

As a barometer of the industry, the Top 50 report provides the metrics that can help you benchmark your own agency against the country’s best and offers extensive insight into some of the country’s leading offices.

Moreover, the list substantiates the view that you can achieve almost anything you set your mind to. Maybe – just maybe – it’s time to look at these numbers and set your own team’s goals higher.

The standout finding this year reveals the importance of support staff. Last year, the average number of support staff per office was 3.6; this year it is 5.6.

What this 55.6 per cent growth shows is that agencies, while getting busier, are also becoming smarter with their time, suggesting salespeople in these offices can focus on doing what they do best – listing, negotiating and selling property.

This is what Marshall White director Marcus Chiminello – ranked second in the country in our Top 100 Agents 2013 report – calls ‘dollar value’ time.

In FY12/13, the Top 50 Australian sales offices sold a total $10.2 billion worth of real estate, a massive 39 per cent increase on the previous year ($7.7 billion). A total of 16,843 properties changed hands through these 50 offices, a 14 per cent increase on last year’s total of 14,785.

Breaking it down by state, New South Wales was on top with 21 offices. The numbers then dropped sharply to Victoria (10), Western Australia (9), Queensland (6) and South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory with two offices each. The Northern Territory and Tasmania had no offices in this year’s list.

Top 50 sales offices

Methodology

The methodology for this report was based on four key metrics, broken equally into two sections:

Scale

The first two metrics were focused on scale, which remains an important measurement tool on the basis that bigger numbers necessitate a higher level of management and administration – a skill in itself.

So, sales volume – or the value of the properties sold – and the number of sales, were two metrics that, combined, collectively made up half of each office’s overall ranking.

Performance and efficiency

The final two metrics used in determining an office’s final ranking relate to its performance and efficiency, and it’s these measurements that allowed smaller players to more evenly compete with their larger counterparts.

Conversion rate was one of these metrics; this compared the number of listings against the number of sales made in the year, highlighting an office’s ability to move stock efficiently. Note that some offices recorded results above the 100 per cent mark because they also sold listings in the 2011/2012 financial year that were originally generated in the previous financial year.

The final metric within this section was office efficiency; this compared the number of sales agents and sales support staff against the total number of sales, providing a clear idea as to how productive each member of the team was.

All data was submitted online by senior management from each office, and where possible their numbers were verified by RP Data. Where required, Real Estate Business undertook additional research to reconfirm numbers with group head offices and/or the agency principals themselves.

Methodology: RP Data

RP Data verified the findings and results of the Top 50 Sales Offices report by correlating the information provided to Real Estate Business by participating offices against RP Data’s own data.

This information was derived from online listings, print listings and RP Data’s ‘Recent Sales’ team, whose members call agents to collect and validate property sales as well as other government-sourced data.

RP Data then provided a report to Real Estate Business on the degree of correlation between the information supplied to Real Estate Business by participating offices and RP Data’s own database. This enabled Real Estate Business to scrutinise entrants and to conduct further investigation into those whose claims did not correlate with RP Data’s database.

While RP Data believes all the information in its database is complete, accurate and reliable in all material respects, it does not warrant its accuracy or completeness and to the full extent permitted by law, excludes liability in contract, tort or otherwise, for any loss or damage sustained by any person or body corporate arising from or in connection with the reliance on such information and data in the findings and results of the Real Estate Business Top 50 Sales Offices report.  Only the data supplied to REB by offices was correlated by RP Data.

Harber Real Estate, WA

Harber Real Estate, WA

  • Suburb: Padbury, WA
  • Principal: Steve Harber
  • Sales staff: 19
  • Support staff: 3
  • $357.4 million
  • 588 properties sold

“It’s better to have control right from the point of meeting the client to handing over the keys”

Harber Real Estate principal Steve Harber has reached first place in this year’s Top 50 through plenty of hard work and that special ingredient so often forgotten – simplicity.

The agency was established in 1994 in Padbury, on Perth’s north coast, and still maintains just one office.

With 19 sales staff and three supporting, Harber Real Estate is very much a service-driven company.

Sales staff are encouraged to work a single suburb in which they can specialise. They also do without personal assistants, Mr Harber says, speaking from experience.

“We don’t have a lot of people that have gone down the path of working with PAs,” he says.

While other agents swear by their PAs as allowing them to get on with the job at hand – namely, selling properties – Mr Harber comes from a different school of thought.

“It can start to have a detrimental service level when you have two people backing the salesperson,” he says.

“It’s better to have control right from the point of meeting the client to handing over the keys.

“I have worked with a PA myself and a full-time secretary for the last 18 years, but I have now gone back to working on my own.

“I find the service much better that way.”

This year Harber Real Estate converted 95 per cent of its 618 listings for a total 588 sales, smashing the Top 50 conversion average of 84.6 per cent. While the average sale was a modest $608,000, the team’s hard work and community engagement meant this year’s volume was $357 million.

But there is still room for improvement, says Mr Harber.

“We are looking to tighten our communication between all levels of staff,” he says, “particularly between our coordinators and our salespeople.”

The business will also be upgrading its systems, which Mr Harber is confident will add to the number of future transactions.

LJ Hooker Thornlie, WA

LJ Hooker Thornlie, WA

  • Suburb: Thornlie, WA
  • CEO: John Rechichi
  • Sales staff: 7
  • Support staff: 1
  • $153 million
  • 377 properties sold

Inspiring loyalty

As the highest ranked new entrant to the list, LJ Hooker Thornlie licensee and principal John Rechichi was up against some tough competition.

With just one representative on last year’s list, LJ Hooker has turned things around to boast 11 in this year’s ranking.

Mr Rechichi told Real Estate Business that while sales and listings are important, his main focus for running his business is the people he employs.

“I'm a bit jealous of anyone who works for me, and I don't like anybody leaving if they've got potential. One of our girls at our front desk has been with us 26 years,” he says.

“With our staff I always try and make it as attractive as possible for them to work for us, but I want them for the long term. I don't want a short-term employee of any kind because we put a lot of effort into training and trying to make sure they fit in with us all.”

Having paid long service leave to employees on many occasions, Mr Rechichi said the benefits of long-term salespeople goes further than just losing out to competitors – their connections and databases are invaluable.

Mr Rechichi is also the highest ranked non-selling principal. In fact, he is the only one in the top five.

“I don't sell and I don't compete against the salespeople, so if you like, I'm like everyone’s PA,” he says. “If a salesperson needs some help, I can meet their clients and I offer that type of back-room knowledge and experience, but I don't take it off them.”

This balance between hands-off management and hands-on leadership has struck a chord with his staff members, who have paid him back with their loyalty.

Magain Real Estate, SA

Magain Real Estate, SA

  • Suburb: Woodcroft, SA
  • Principal: Mike Dobbin
  • Sales staff: 7
  • Support staff: 4
  • $152.7 million
  • 402 properties sold

Building momentum

Having taken over the business with his business partners four and a half years ago, Mike Dobbin has transformed the 30 year-old Magain Real Estate name into a leading force within Australia.

The incredible story of determination and hard work has landed Mr Dobbin and his office on the Top 50 Sales Offices list for the second year running – and he’s trumped his 2013 ranking of 25.

With just seven sales staff and four support staff during the 2012/2013 financial year, Mr Dobbin claims the spike in results from the previous year has been amazing.

“We’ve had two staff members basically double what they’ve done each year they’ve been with us, and they have really helped build our brand,” he says.

“In real estate it’s all about building that momentum, making a sale today so that next week someone who heard about it wants to sell through you.

“The other staff members have increased their results by about 50 per cent themselves because the phones don’t stop ringing. People ring up and say ‘You sold my friends property’, or they hear about someone who went with us and had a good experience and it just keeps rolling on.”

And things just keep on getting better for the Magain team, with two new appointments and a booming market.

“Two of our biggest competitors have joined us over the last three months, so I’m very excited to see our results six months down the track,” he says. “They’re the biggest writers from our competition and they came over to us; we didn’t headhunt them, they felt they were big fish in small ponds.”

Robinson Property, NSW

Robinson Property, NSW

  • Suburb: Newcastle, NSW
  • Principal: Guy Robinson
  • Sales staff: 13
  • Support staff: 5
  • $270.2 million
  • 599 properties sold

“It is common throughout Australia for buyers to think they know what they’re doing when they really don’t, so we are trying to do our best to educate them about how the real estate process works”

Robinson Property is an institution in Newcastle, where the agency has been selling real estate for more than 40 years.

Defining their market is tricky job. Robinson Property is the leading apartment sales agent in Newcastle City, but the agency also operates in Cessnock, Maitland, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens.

Their reach stretches across five council LGAs that make up the Lower Hunter area.

“We’re the biggest seller of land as well – new land and house packages – and we’re also the leading seller of inner city and suburban houses,” Mr Robinson says.

With total sales of $270.2 million last year, Robinson Property is a heavy hitter in the Hunter region.

The business sold 599 properties last year, converting 89.3 per cent of listings to be well above the national average.

However, hard work often means playing hard too, and at Robinsons the sales office environment is a lot of fun, says Mr Robinson.

“They seem to have a fair bit of fun, the admin staff eat a lot of lollies, laugh a fair bit and they all get along really well,” he says.

“We’ve got a good office culture, and we’ve got very successful people that we support in their roles.”

The company is now looking to further educate its team, as well as its customers, about the processes of purchasing real estate.

“It is common throughout Australia for buyers to think they know what they’re doing when they really don’t, so we are trying to do our best to educate them about how the real estate process works,” Mr Robinson says.

“Real estate transactions are so unnecessarily stressful when they shouldn’t be. We are going to do our best to help those buying property to do it in a happy, stress-free way.”

PRDnationwide Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, NSW

PRDnationwide Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, NSW

  • Suburb: Newcastle, NSW
  • Regional sales manager: Mark Kentwell
  • Sales staff: 10
  • Support staff: 6
  • $264.5 million
  • 466 properties sold

Like clockwork

One of the country’s fiercest real estate rivalries can be found in the northern New South Wales city of Newcastle.

In two years, three separate agencies from Newcastle have made the top five in this list.

After a phenomenal year, PRDnationwide Newcastle/Lake Macquarie has shot from 25th all the way into fifth place.

Principal Mark Kentwell told Real Estate Business the fierce competition has driven himself and his team to absolute machine-like perfection.

With an excellent list-to-sell ratio and well over 400 sales between 10 selling agents and six assistants, Mr Kentwell is proud of the systems and structures he has developed.

“Our results as far as listing-to-selling ratio and days on market come down to three main things: one is our focus on training, from our junior agents to our top performers everyone sits in on regular weekly training as well as external training,” he says.

“The business structure is the second point. We’re always innovating, and one of the innovations we’ve worked on for some time and perfected is the way we run our sales team. We call it a super-EBU [effective business unit], where people have very specific roles. This helps us maintain higher volumes, greater focus on properties, and rather than selling the ones that ‘sell themselves’, we can get the harder ones over the line because we have more hands on the job and a team approach of getting it done.

“The last thing would be our incredible database because we service so many suburbs from the one hub. This means we have pre-qualified buyers for pretty much everything we list.”

But unlike most high-volume offices, Mr Kentwell claims almost every one of his listings comes from individual sellers – not off a rent roll or from developer stock.

“I’m so proud of the team, and we’ll be aiming even higher for next year,” he says.

Top 50 Sales Offices 2014 Rankings

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