What it takes to be a top producer in Houston

by Jason Porterfield

Making it to the top in any industry is a praiseworthy accomplishment. In the perpetually dynamic and thriving Houston real estate market, top producer status is conveyed during Houston Business Journal’s annual Residential Real Estate Awards. Top agents and teams are rewarded based on sales volume and number of transactions.

It demonstrates that those agents and teams have the tenacity, work ethic and ability to relate to consumers in a way that’s needed in a city that experienced a record-breaking 2017 despite the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey. According to the Houston Association of Realtors, sales of all property types rose by 3.5 percent over 2016 numbers, to 94,726 units. The total dollar volume for single-family homes increased by 6.5 percent to $23 billion.

Lisa Kornhauser of John Daugherty, Realtors attributes her top producer status in part to her ability to connect with others and her willingness to make every transaction a win-win for everyone. She does this by listening to what her clients want and making herself available to them at all times.

“Real estate is 24/7,” Kornhauser says. “Anyone who thinks it can be a part-time job is truly not going to be successful in real estate. You really have to be available to your clients pretty much 24/7. Sometimes that means eight o’clock at night and sometimes 6:30 in the morning. And it can be at 10:30 at night. You truly have to love it if you’re going to do those hours.”

Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty sees a commitment to excellence, complete dedication to the client, knowledge of the industry and a passion for the real estate business as the main factors in helping her attain top producer status. She believes clients are drawn to her commitment and dedication to the industry based on her strong referral network.

“I think they know that I’m going to work extremely diligently with them to achieve the very best results,” she says. “They know that I am very detail-oriented and have very strong negotiation skills. Word of mouth is the best referral you can have, and the best way to get word of mouth referrals in this business is to utilize those strengths.”

For Joe Rothchild of The Rothchild Team, with Keller-Williams, persistence and determination are the true defining factors in attaining and maintaining top producer status.

“I don’t consider myself smarter than the other people, I’ve just outworked them for all these years,” Rothchild says. “One of my favorite statements in the world is ‘knock harder.’ Top producers knock harder than other producers. Just like in basketball where you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, when you’re knocking on doors and no one answers your chances of success are nothing. I’d rather knock harder and have someone come to the door angry and say ‘what do you want?’ because at least that way I have a chance.”

Working as a team

Kornhauser is a strong believer in keeping up with new technology and using evolving strategies to reach clients across all age groups.

“Your strategies have to change constantly as the market changes,” Kornhauser says. “The only thing that is consistent is customer service. That will always be the same, but using different technologies and resources takes time, and I have a great team that helps me do that through social media and the internet. You have to keep current because the younger buyers, that’s how they work. You have to be able to relate to all different age groups and how they like to work. It can’t just be your way.”

Kornhauser’s team consists of a trio of licensed assistants with whom she has developed a dynamic rapport. Each team member has particular strengths that can come into play at critical points in the transaction process.

“We meet and talk daily, and we evolve together as a group,” Kornhauser says. “It’s not just one way that we follow. We run different ideas by each other and that has really helped us. You listen when three people are sharing ideas, and three minds are better than one.”

Rothchild also uses a team model, working closely with a small group of individuals identified as “wealth builders” by Keller-Williams.

“Now, my goal in the position I’m at – and everyone’s goal in life should be – that you pick three to five people that are your wealth builders or wealth determiners and solely concentrate on helping those three to five people be super successful,” Rothchild says. “I measure myself by whether those three to five people are achieving the success levels that they’ve set as their goals or not. When they achieve their goals, I feel very successful because I’ve helped them achieve that.”

Read more from our Top Producers Issue

Working with technology

For Bernstein, a willingness to keep up with new technology as it evolves can set agents apart from the competition and help them stay relevant in the market.

“I think the basic characteristics of top producers have remained the same since I got in the business in 1982,” Bernstein says. “That really is just a complete dedication and commitment to your industry. I don’t think it’s evolved. The thing that I think has changed is learning to embrace the new tools available to be able to stay abreast of the market. If you use the tools and technology available, the market is moving so much faster than it used to move. If you didn’t use the new technology and tools available, you would get left behind.”

Learning how to find, interpret and share data with consumers is vital. Bernstein keeps her website updated and uses Facebook, videos and other online media resources to help with her marketing. “Buyers and sellers are information-hungry than they ever have been, and we can have that information at our fingertips if we use the technology to do that research for our clients,” she says.

New opportunities

Becoming a top producer offers agents a tremendous amount of new exposure. It also shows that they have a proven track record for excellence. Rothchild believes that his move to Keller-Williams in 2010 came about due to his status as a top producer.

“I had changed from RE/MAX, where I was for 20 years, to Keller-Williams,” Rothchild says. “I do think Keller-Williams wanted me because I was a top producer because they realized that I would be an asset to them. It builds confidence.”

For Bernstein, the accolade serves as a valuable marketing tool that shows she can get the job done for her clients.

“It’s had a tremendous impact, because track records are often the best referral system,” Bernstein says. “Often, they speak for themselves as long as you uphold the standards that got you there. Over the past five years, I have been blessed to finish within the top 25 sales agents in the city of Houston and the surrounding suburbs. We definitely are proud of that achievement and market it accordingly.”

“I think people like to know that you’ve achieved a certain level of experience,” Kornhauser says. “They feel confident that I’ve had 18 years of experience in real estate and we’ve been a top producer for years. After everything I’ve been through in the business, we can give back to our clients with that experience. With so many transactions, we’ve seen it all.”

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