Too Many Agents, Not Enough Listings: How to Stand Out
We’ll go ahead and say it: There are too many real estate agents out there.
NAR membership reached a record high of 1.56 million in 2021. To put that in perspective, there were only 6.12 million homes sold nationwide in 2021 — in December, inventory fell to an all-time low of 910,000.
That means that in December 2021, there were 70% more REALTORS® competing for listings than there were actual listings. And that doesn’t even include licensed agents who don’t pay dues to NAR.
Since inventory is not expected to substantially increase anytime soon, competition for listings is cutthroat with no end in sight. So it’s more important now than ever before that you stand out from the crowd.
Quality beats quantity
Here’s the thing: Most of these agents aren’t top producers. Far from it.
The median gross income for REALTORS® actually dropped in 2020 to $43,330, down from $49,700. And only one in four agents brought in over $100,000 in gross income in 2020 (note: NAR has not yet released 2021 numbers).
Basically, a decent chunk of the agents competing for listings right now don’t actually transact much property. They’re not full-time, committed professionals.
To grow your business in this overly saturated market, you need to differentiate yourself from the average agent. As Side CEO Guy Gal said at an Inman Connect event:“There's no more room for mediocre.”
You need to make your professionalism, experience, and work ethic crystal clear to your prospects. Here are some ways to ensure you don’t get lumped in with everyone else.
1. Distance yourself from the mediocre
Americans consider real estate agents one of the least-trusted professionals, right down there with car salespeople and politicians. That’s because there are too many agents who don’t provide exceptional service and put their clients first.
To stand out as a top agent, you need to distance yourself from those agents who give the profession a bad name.
Key to this is making sure when clients see your brokerage and branding, they don’t associate you with a lackluster experience.
"I found that having a big box name on my real estate signs hurt me," says Kelli Griggs, founder of Navigate Realty. "I would go to a listing appointment, and someone the client knew had worked for my national brokerage in the past. And no matter how amazing I was, I couldn't overcome someone who had worked for that particular brand 20 years ago."
Kelli became an independent broker in part to protect her reputation from mediocre agents; now she's partnered with Side to keep her brand and supercharge her growth. Your brokerage’s reputation matters, so take time to consider whether you’re with a brokerage that takes on too many inexperienced agents.
2. Show how you go above and beyond
You can’t just announce you’re an exceptional agent — you have to prove it right from the start.
One of the ways Nicole Solari, founder of Level Up Realty, proves her value is by using Side’s CMA offering to visually represent market data for listing presentations.
“Most agents kind of wing it on listing appointments,” she says. “They maybe do a little bit of market research, but they don’t take the time to compile it in a visually appealing way. I’ve actually had several clients tell me they chose me because of how I came to the listing presentation so prepared.”
Always be thinking about how you can provide value beyond what’s expected of a real estate agent. The average agent won’t be able to compete with your elevated service offerings.
3. Build and boost your brand’s visibility in target markets
When the market’s overcrowded with agents, focus on making sure your name gets seen and remembered. One of the best ways to do that is to define a strong, easily recognizable brand and double down on marketing it in specific geographic areas. It’s easier to stay top-of-mind with prospective clients in Baldwin Park than in all of Orlando.
“You need to be building a localized, geographically-focused brand for yourself,” says Ashley Bledsoe, director of marketing at Side. “Build relationships by positioning yourself as the local market expert.”
For more on how to grow your market share in a specific geographic area, check out this Side Masterclass on building brand recognition through farming.
Yes, the agent-to-listing ratio is way out of whack, and yes, competition is more intense than ever. But just remember that most of the agents out there don’t provide anywhere near the value proposition of a top producer. No matter how many agents there are, if you stay the course and keep proving your worth, growth will follow.