Eagle eyed L.A. industry insiders scouring this week’s hotly anticipated broker ranking by data firm REAL Trends, published in the Wall Street Journal, may have noticed a couple of notable omissions. Two of Los Angeles’ most active luxury brokerages, Hilton & Hyland and Westside Estate Agency, were not represented on the list and none of their brokers made the ranking.
The omission of the two firms is particularly notable since both Hilton & Hyland and Westside brokered some of the biggest deals of 2015. Stephen Resnick of Hilton & Hyland represented the buyer of the Singleton House, set on seven acres in the Holmby Hills area, for nearly $60 million dollars — the second largest deal recorded last year. And Mia Trudeau, also of Hilton & Hyland, sold the Liongate estate in Bel-Air for $46.25 million, for instance.
REAL Trends, an independent firm, ranks the most productive agents in the country by state and metropolitan area based on closed transaction sides and closed volume. Mauricio Umansky of The Agency ranked number one in L.A. this year based on total sales volume, followed by Chris Cortazzo of Coldwell Banker.
Hilton & Hyland co-founder Jeff Hyland told The Real Deal that his company had purposefully opted out of participating in this year’s ranking, following inconsistencies it perceived in last year’s report.
“First and foremost, let me establish that Hilton & Hyland had a banner year in 2015, with a sales volume of nearly $3 billion,”Hyland told TRD. “Had our agents’ sales numbers been submitted, we would have had a commanding presence on the list.”
Hyland referenced what he considered “blatant discrepancies” in REAL Trends’ largely self-reported data as his reason for withdrawing from the competition.
“We have detailed and intimate knowledge of our marketplace and the sales that happen within it, and simply put, many of the agents’ sales numbers do not calculate accordingly,” he said.
A spokesperson for REAL Trends said in a statement: “Hilton & Hyland chose not to submit to this year’s survey. That is of course their choice. They don’t like it when other professionals in the market outperform them. But virtually every major national, regional and local firm in the nation trusts our rankings. ”
The firm outlined its concerns about the ranking to the head of REAL Trends in a March email. In the note, Charles Black, the company’s executive vice president of marketing, complained that in the most recent iteration of the survey, an agent in Addison, Texas was listed as having sold the most homes in the year.
“According to the survey, this agent sold 2,383 homes. In the year 2014, there was a total of 249 days in which a house sale could close. Applying simple math, this would dictate that the top agent sold an average of over 9 ½ homes a day, a feat that is simply not possible,” Black said in the email.
“Brokers appear to be unjustly ‘stacking’ sales from within the office, forging a super-agent that will rank high on the list, thus creating publicity for the brokerage,” Black told TRD.
The company isn’t the first to complain about the rankings. Westside also refused to report its figures last year, though a spokesperson for the company was not immediately available for comment.
In a response to Hilton & Hyland, REAL Trends President Steve Murray conceded that the methodology for the ranking was flawed.
“While we have in many cases required top-ranked teams and agents to supply such verification as Federal Tax returns and lists of actual properties sold, we know that there may be cases where somehow incorrect volumes or transaction counts are filed,” he wrote.