WSJ/Real Trends
Top 100 Agents

Today’s Wall Street Journal is running a list that purports to rank the nation’s top 100 Realtors.

Actually, it has four lists — hence the (slightly confusing) title, “Top 400 Sales Professionals.”

The four categories are:

1. Top 100 Agents by transaction sides (representing either a Buyer or Seller)
2. Top 100 Agents by volume
3. Top 100 Teams by transaction sides
4. Top 100 Teams by volume


The distinction between volume and transaction sides is important, because otherwise the top 100 Realtors would all hail from the most expensive markets.

Likewise, it’s important to distinguish between individual Realtors and teams.

Also known as “groups,” they can encompass as many as a dozen Realtors, and therefore warrant their own category.

So it’s especially astounding to see that the top individual agent nationwide by number of deals was someone named Joe Kadaff, who works for RE/MAX in Dearborn, MI.

According to the WSJ, Kadaff closed an astounding 1,743 transaction sides.

That works out to one sale every 5(!) hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Phew! (or as the locals would say, “uff-dah!”)

(And no, I don’t know how it’s humanly possible for one Realtor to close that many deals.)

Minnesota Angle

So how did Minnesota Realtors do?

And do the numbers check out?

Minnesota placed three Realtors in the Top 100 agents list: Barry Tanner (#72); Kurt Christensen (#96); and James Onomiya (#98). (Note: Tanner and Onomiya are with Edina Realty.)

They’re credited with 135, 109, and 107 transaction sides, respectively.

To double-check those numbers, I searched MLS under each agent’s ID, as both listing agent and selling agent, for all deals closed during 2009.

I came up with 126 transaction sides for Tanner (vs. the reported 135), and 114 for Christensen (vs. 109).

Close enough.

However, I could only find 67 transaction sides for Onomiya (vs. the reported 107).

Since the WSJ doesn’t report its methodology or even the time span measured, it’s hard to know what accounts for the difference.

Other Observations

Virtually all of the transaction sides for Tanner and Christensen — and the majority for Onomiya — were as listing agents.

That’s because they represented banks selling foreclosed properties.

But what really caught my eye, in small type in the upper right corner of each list, was the disclosure “Special Advertising Section.”


Sure enough, a handful of agents on each list had links from their names to their Web sites.

Which would explain why the list was compiled, and who it’s being marketed to.

(No doubt the brokers are being solicited to promote their standings on the list, as well.)

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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