About the Data
Other lists have an exclusionary policy: they only include brokerages that respond to their surveys. It has become critically important for T3 Sixty to have more complete data when we work with clients, benchmark data and write about trends.
As a result, we have decided to undertake our own research to specifically:
- Expand the scope of the brokerages from 500 to 1,000.
- Extend research beyond brokerage companies and include franchisors.
- Deliver a list that includes all known residential real estate brokerage-related companies irrespective of their business structure.
T3 Sixty therefore included all known brokerage companies, even when they declined to officially provide data. Consequentially, many companies appear on the Swanepoel Mega 1000 that do not appear on other lists, including Redfin, Weichert Realtors, Windermere and Compass. Many of these are multi-billion dollar companies that have deservedly earned a position among the top organizations in real estate.
Companies that declined to officially provide data have been marked with an asterisk (*) or listed in the footnotes. This indicates that the company’s information was not provided by them and reflects our best estimates. We do not believe that these numbers are inaccurate as we have invested extensive time and research to ensure that their information is as accurate as possible.
Some companies which previously thought they were in the top 20 do not actually hold that ranking. Take a look at the lists: Top 1000 Brokerages, Top 20 Brokerages, Top 20 Franchisors, Top 20 Holding Companies.
Data Fields and Framework
The data can be viewed from different perspectives: sales volume, transaction side, agent and office count, etc. Each provides an interesting and unique perspective. However, it is necessary to select one of these criteria as the dominant dataset and use it as the foundation from which other data flows. Here we outline the framework of the report:
After significant debate, we decided that when selecting one set of data as the primary view, we settled on sales volume. This is because it is the core metric used to calculate agent commission, franchise fees and company revenue. Furthermore, when companies are bought and sold, EBITDA is used as the primary financial measure, and that is calculated from revenue, which is calculated from sales volume.
A transaction side is counted as either the listing or the selling side of a transaction. If a brokerage sells its own listing, two transaction sides are counted; when it co-brokers a transaction, one transaction side is counted. Outgoing referrals sent are counted by the receiving brokerage and not the sending brokerage.
The number of home resale transactions in 2017 was 5.51 million, and therefore the total number of transaction sides was slightly over 11 million.
The price of a home, and the average sale price of certain neighborhoods can skew sales volume. This is particularly relevant in exceptionally expensive areas such as Los Altos in California, downtown Manhattan in New York, and Fischer Island in Florida. For that reason, the Swanepoel Mega 1000 ranking on our website allows viewers to sort data by transaction sides should you wish to review the data in that order.
Agent count is one of the least important criteria to measure the size and success of a company, especially as the productivity of agents can vary so much. It is, however, a verifiable number, as the total number of agents working for a specific firm can be verified at the Department of Real Estate (or your state equivalent), their local MLS or their association. A large agent count does not guarantee success, but do not underestimate the power of a large “army” of agents. In the independent contractor nature of the residential real estate industry, size does matter and is often a good indicator of movement and change.
We have decided to leave office count off of our rankings because in today’s modern technology-driven world, “bricks and mortar” assets are no longer important in identifying the size or ranking of a company. Furthermore, a growing number of companies are consolidating offices rapidly and fewer but larger offices such as Keller Williams market centers are growing in popularity. Many new models such as Redfin, eXp Realty, and United Real Estate furthermore serve dozens of markets with no, or only one, brick and mortar location.
What About Mergers and Acquisitions?
Tracking mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is critically important as the sale of a company can change the industry landscape. 2017 was an especially active year for M&As, accentuated by HomeServices of America’s (HSA) acquisition of Long & Foster ($29 billion in annual sales volume). This rocketed HSA into the Titan category with the other $100+ billion company, NRT LLC.
There were other blockbuster transactions, including acquisitions of large regional firms such as Houlihan Lawrence, Partners Trust and Teles Properties. Acquisitions are no longer restricted to the highest tiers; they are becoming a popular way to expand companies of all sizes.
The Swanepoel Mega 1000 list includes statistics for all brokerages which hold a controlling, or greater than 50 percent, stake. As a result, the acquired brokerages are no longer are listed separately in the Mega 1000 brokerage list.
For more information about M&A on the Swanepoel Mega 1000, make sure you obtain a printed copy, which will be available in June 2018.