Real estate’s top brokerages saw growth slow in 2014

In 2014, most of the largest brokerages in the country grew their businesses at rate that outpaced the market as a whole, according to an annual analysis by Real Trends.

That report also reveals which companies grew the fastest. The Real Trends 500 report ranks the top 500 U.S. brokerages by transaction sides and sales volume, based on data supplied by brokerages to Real Trends (companies that do not provide data are excluded).

Unlike in 2013, when all of the nation’s top 20 brokerages — and the U.S. housing market overall — saw double-digit annual gains in sales volume, last year brokerages saw much lower year-over-year growth.

In general, agents at the top brokerages generated fewer “transaction sides” — each instance in which they represented either a buyer or seller in a home sale — than the year before, but rising home prices buoyed most of their sales volumes into positive growth in 2014.

According to Fannie Mae, sales of existing homes were down 2.9 percent in 2014, while the median price of an existing home was up 5.6 percent, to $208,000.

Assuming those trends were distributed evenly in all housing markets — which they were not — real estate brokerages could expect growth in home sales and home prices to translate into a roughly 2.5 percent growth in 2014 sales volume.

Most of the nation’s 20 largest brokers saw bigger gains, some larger than others. Chicago-based @properties boosted sales volume by 28.9 percent; San Francisco Bay Area-based Pacific Union International kicked up sales volume by 21.8 percent; New York City-based Douglas Elliman Real Estate raised sales volume by 21.3 percent.

Other brokerages who recorded double-digit annual gains in sales volume include the Dallas-based office of Keller Williams Realty (18.4 percent); Irvine, California-based Realty One Group (18.1 percent); Rye Brooke, New York-based Houlihan Lawrence (14.9 percent); and Shelton, Connecticut-based William Raveis Real Estate (14.1 percent).

Some of that growth propelled companies up the national rankings. @properties’ growth catapulted it from the 20th largest firm in the nation by 2013 sales volume to the 12th largest firm by its 2014 numbers. Pacific Union International jumped from 13th to ninth. And Keller Williams Realty (Dallas) moved from 24th to 20th.

Top 20 brokerages by sales volume, 2014

Source: Real Trends

A majority of the nation’s 20 largest brokerages by transaction sides represented buyers and sellers on fewer deals in 2014 than they did in 2013, perhaps reflecting the inventory shortage prevalent in many housing markets.

Top 20 brokerages by transaction sides, 2014

Source: Real Trends

Email Paul Hagey.