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How America’s top real estate agent sells 16 homes every day

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Imagine the best-selling real estate agent in the world.

Are you thinking of New Yorkers living in skyscrapers? Perhaps shady Londoners who lead oligarchs to multi-million dollar mansions?

Whoever you’re imagining, it’s probably not that kind of person Ben Caballero.

There are few things about Caballero’s world-class aesthetic scream. At 83, the petite man works in a nondescript building outside Dallas.his office Furnished with gray carpet and suspended ceiling tiles. He shares the building with a waste management company.

But the agent’s numbers don’t lie:

  • In 2020, he set a world record for 6.4k home sales and presides over listing agents. ~$2.46B sales Volume.
  • Selling well this year ~6,000 households Texas — ~16 percent of daily sales.

in an industry full of whales, Caballero became a near-mythical force – the estate Megalodon. And he’s done it without relying on mansion sales or high-priced clients.

All he did was come up with an idea to make life a little easier for home builders.

slow start

Caballero’s real estate career seemed doomed to failure before it really started.

In 1960 he moved to Dallas on a whim. His car broke down while traveling from Oklahoma City to Houston. He liked the friendly people who helped him on the road so much that he decided to stay forever.

Caballero is 21, fresh out of the Air Force, recently married, and has up to $500.

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Dallas was booming. New arrivals flocked to mid-rise apartments that sprouted like elms in urban neighborhoods and suburbs, and Caballero realized he could build his own business after an unpleasant experience with an apartment-hunting company. rice field.

Shortly after Thanksgiving that year, he started Looking for an apartment, a service that helps potential tenants find rental properties in Dallas. The company made a profit by taking commissions from property owners and charging nothing to apartment applicants.

Caballero’s (pictured) was reported in 1962 (The Dallas Morning News via America’s Newspapers).

By Christmas, Caballero was feeling a lot of pressure. Advertisements he placed in local newspapers did not attract customers. He and his wife couldn’t afford gas, so they had to carpool with a friend to visit relatives in Oklahoma City.

“The day after Christmas, I said, ‘I have to go back to Dallas,'” Caballero recalled in an interview. Hustle“They were like, ‘For what? You don’t have anything to do.'”

But just after New Year’s Day, the calls started coming in. Real estate was a seasonal pursuit, and apartment seekers were searching again. It was a small lesson, but Caballero learned to pay attention to the quirks of the industry and use them to his advantage.

In no time, Caballero became a heavyweight in the local real estate industry.

  • He used money from his business to finance the construction of an apartment building, partnered with another builder, and eventually started his own building firm, building custom homes while holding a real estate license. was produced.
  • In the late 1980s, when the Texas home market was sluggish, a homebuyer was guaranteed to enter into a contract to purchase an old home if the old home was not sold before the new home was built. started a purchasing business. Caballero sat at home until he could sell it for a decent return.

For many years he ran a successful business. And when he was old enough to retire, Caballero came up with his best idea.

Invention of a new sales system

Caballero took advantage of a strange quirk in the way new homes are marketed and sold.

  • home builder Generally, I just want to build a house and am not really interested in selling it. They are rarely tech savvy and rarely agree with agents. They find builders desperate in cold markets but avoiding calls in hot markets.
  • Realtor In general, you do not understand the nuances of new housing. For example, deadlines change due to delays, and new homes have more complex contracts than existing homes. They also prefer working with their own lenders.

“It’s a complicated relationship,” Caballero said.

Tract homes in Houston, Texas (Getty Images)

Sometimes reluctance to engage with real estate agents can lead builders to surprising choices. As Caballero discovered, many builders don’t even use multiple listing services (MLS), the primary mechanism for buyer agents to find homes.

As such, his first foray into becoming a builder’s agency involved a simple accomplishment. It was to convince executives at homebuilder Lennar to list some of their inventory on MLS.

Caballero’s work with builders grew from there. Launched the platform in 2007, HomesUSA.comstreamlined the relationship between builders and agents.

It works like this:

  • The program makes it easy for builders to enter data about the homes they want to list. After a brief review by Caballero, the information is uploaded to MLS.
  • Caballero uses software to monitor data and trends and provide feedback to clients. He is much faster than the average real estate agent and it takes him less than 30 minutes to upload a new home or update information to MLS.
  • An automated lead capture service allows builders to connect directly with potential buyers, reducing the need for buyer agent fees.

The program may sound simple, but it has proven to be a key innovation for builder customers who develop hundreds and thousands of homes in Texas each year. overtook the whole country In new homes, per capita, over the years.

‘No one (other) is doing it,’ says real estate agent Nav Singh Said Hustle.

He added: (But) that’s not all. The feedback and timeliness he gives them is great. ”

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

Caballero’s count ~60 Builders among his clients include giants like the Toll Brothers.

Kelly HoodwinBuilder Altura’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing says the streamlined process will help Altura’s sales team and save money in the long run. Caballero estimates his customers’ savings as follows: ~$1k-$1.5k/House.

Big builder his rolodex and rapid growth in Texas, US home capitalresulted in an unprecedented hot streak:

  • From 2004 to 2021 Caballero was sold ~48k house value ~$17 billion.
  • Guinness World Records broke his 6.4k house.

Other prolific agencies in the U.S. may sell hundreds of homes annually, but none have exceeded $2 billion in annual sales like Caballero. many of the top domestic Securities company.

Even Zillow couldn’t keep up in the first year of the failed iBuyer experiment. Approximately $1.7 billion in sales At home in 2020 compared to Caballero $2.46 billion.

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

Like his sales totals, Caballero’s methods are very different from most agents.

  • No open houses or Saturday morning home visits. Caballero works out of the office with her 32 employees, mostly remote, working to update listings, coordinate software improvements, and improve relationships with builders.
  • Caballero charges builder clients a flat rate per home, rather than taking a 3% cut in the selling price, as most seller agents do. He gets paid when the house is listed, not when it sells. (Caballero declined to discuss his fees or annual income.)

Every day around 5:30 pm, Caballero’s software updates him with new homes listed under his name.

At a rate of 6,000 sales per year, we have an average of 16 listings per day. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median housing agent closes 10 homes a year.

next big idea

Caballero recognizes that it is unlikely to break the 2020 world record anytime soon, given declining buyer demand in the face of rising interest rates and declining housing starts. . of a pandemic.

However, his business remains attractive in a sluggish real estate market.

Builders may be more likely to use him when demand is low, according to Altura’s Caballero client Hoodwin. The market was so hot last year that many builders, including Altura, didn’t use realtors. (Caballero’s sales for 2021 fell to pedestrian 4.7k.)

Caballero (Mark Dent) poses in his office with a Guinness World Record

Caballero is also working to spread his services across the country.

His plan is to create a version of his program so that it can be licensed to any homebuilder. The resulting product could significantly increase sales for Caballero and have a significant impact on the real estate industry.

No matter how big his business gets, he has no plans to upgrade his humble suburban office for skyscrapers in New York or London.

“I don’t need it,” he said.

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