The Real Deal New York

How real estate agents get to the top

October 19, 2012 02:50PM

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From left: Rhonda Duffy, John Burger and Rebecca Riskin

What does it take to be a top broker?

The Wall Street Journal breaks it down by region in three real estate markets: New York, Atlanta and Santa Barbara, Calif., and looks at top agents in each location. Brown Harris Stevens’ John Burger told the Journal that he has reached the peak by cultivating relationships with New York City’s well-heeled residents. “When I see clients in New York,” he said, “I entertain them at my club.” At the same time, Burger sticks to 5 percent sales commissions.

Meanwhile, Rhonda Duffy, a top sales agent in Atlanta, instead takes just one-third of the one percent of the closing price. She also takes an up-front $500 to offset marketing costs. Duffy relies on aggressive online marketing. Her strategy relies on a high volume of business, and some cost-cutting efforts: For example, she does not attend every home showing.

But similar to Burger, Rebecca Riskin, who works in Santa Barbara, has found her place catering to the exclusive community’s wealthy residents. But there are key differences to selling real estate in that Southern California community. “Living here is less life in the fast lane,” she told the Journal. “It’s too small of a town to do a lot of backbiting. If you go to the market in Montecito and sneeze in the checkout aisle, by the time you get home, everyone in town knows you’ve got a cold.” [WSJ]

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