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How To Get The Listing Every Time!


With this post, I am introducing the new iRuss.  Here is another email from Raymond:

Hi Russell,

I’m trying to get some realistic perspective on the fall out rate of listings as experienced by successful listing specialists.  It’s not my intention to invade your privacy so I will understand should you ignore my request.  Anyway here is what I’d like to know:

How many listing appointments/presentations did your team make in the past year?

How many listings did your team take in the past year?

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Of those how many sold?

And, how many expired or were canceled or withdrawn?

Of those that did cancel or withdrawn, what was the most common reason?

Thanks for your help.  And thanks for answering my previous question to you on AG.

It was extremely helpful

Take care and be well.

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There are several ways to be able to say, “I take a listing for almost every appointment I go on”.  They are pretty much all stupid.

In 2006 we took 612 listings.  In 2007 we took 524 listings.  This year, Jan – May we’ve taken 187.  I don’t have stats for the past twelve months handy but believe I can answer your questions.

In 2006 our percentage of appointments to listings taken was about 56%.  We went on just under 1,100 face to face appointments.  We closed 405 escrows in 2006, about 60 of them buyer deals.  In 2007 my number of escrows dropped to 369.  312 of them were seller deals.  The percentage of listings taken to appointments for 2007 was 49.90%.  Just under half.

So far this year (through the end of May) we have gone on 406 appointments, Jan – May we’ve closed 106 escrows.  Our percentage of listings taken to appointments this year is about 46%.  This number has always changed with the market.  At the highest (for the year – not a particular month) it was years back nearly 60%.  Over the years, it has usually been around 55% listings taken to appointments.  Right now we are intentionally going on more appointments (therefore a lower percentage) as our “problem” isn’t the Listers are too busy.  Even though some days lately we physically have (with 3 Listers) 9 face to face, in the home interviews – in a single day.  Why yes, my new TV ad has caused the phone to ring more.  

What is interesting (besides the utterly horrible long term downward trend of my major stats) is how “good and bad” we are doing compared to the market.  For the past twelve months my percentage of of listings taken to those listings sold is 60.9%  That is just awful, in the past 12 months we aren’t selling almost 40% of the listings taken.  It is just awful and at the same time, a hell of lot better than almost everybody else here.  Most agents in my market area are selling about 20% in that same time period.  Not selling 80% of what was listed.  Most of the better agents are running around 41 – 43% sold.

Why did they cancel?  Or why did we cancel?  Oh, there are lots and lots of “reasons” given.  But there is really just one.  We didn’t sell the house.  With the exception of their transfer fell through or they can’t move to the new city after all, all of other “reasons” are crap.  We didn’t sell the house.  My advertised average time to sell is 44 days.  That is going back one year and compares to a market average for the same time of 121 days.  That was true as of May 1st.  As of June 1st, my average dropped (going back 365 days) to 42 days and the market average increased to 126 days.  Because they are calling me for results, if I don’t perform in the time they expect, they fire me.

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So…. anyone going on more than a few appointments (their friends, relatives, etc.) is not listing them all.  If they think they are, they are keeping really crappy records.  Some agents only count an appointment if they took the listing – which is a great way to bat 1000 all the time.  Or they only had 1 or 2 listings in a year and sold them both.  Well done.  But if going on lots of appointments and taking lots of listings plan on them not all selling.  That way, your plans will match the reality of the business.

Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Matthew Rathbun

    June 11, 2008 at 5:36 am

    “There are several ways to be able to say, “I take a listing for almost every appointment I go on”. They are pretty much all stupid.” LOL – ROFLMAO

    All I can say is that I simply enjoy reading your stuff. Thanks for contributing and giving insight into a winner’s mind!

  2. Charles Woodall

    June 11, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Russell, you take transparency to a whole new level. There certainly aren’t many agents who are willing to share their numbers, good or bad, like you have here. Personal growth in this business is contingent on being able to compare ones own numbers with those of successful agents.

    Thank you laying it all out there! This post is just another of example of why you da man!

  3. Bill Lublin

    June 11, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I love reading your posts because its like hanging out with a great agent with a good work ethic. Oh that’s right its because you ARE a great agent with a good work ethic,

    I remember going to a CRS class long ago. The Instructor surveyed the room asking,” How Many People lose 20 listings a year?” A number of hands went up. I thought ,”Wow, they must be really bad listing agents”. He kept counting down until he asked “How many people in the room didn’t lose any listings?” I held my hand up proudly until he said,”Then you aren’t listing enough”
    Ooops – Pride does goeth before the fall don’t it?

  4. ines

    June 11, 2008 at 8:33 am

    ooooh! ooooh! I want an iRuss!!

    Your numbers are impressive even in a slow market – gives us (the little people), something to look up to – I always have your commercials in the back of my mind…..I’ll have to invite you to Miami to consult and have some Stonecrabs.

  5. Mariana Wagner

    June 11, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I want an iRuss also! A mini iPod crammed full of Russell Shaw podcasts and videos… You know, there could be some $$ that idea…

    I would HATE to take every listing appointment that we go on. We usually do A LOT of foot work ahead of the appointment – which definitely helps us avoid some disasterous non-appointments. But even then, sometimes as we are at the appointment, we learn about things that cause us to NOT take the listing. Honestly, it is more us not TAKING it than us not GETTING it. My business plan does not allow me to take a listing that is overpriced or in a condition (physically/financially/emotionally … ) where I do not think that I can do the BEST by my seller clients.

    I agree. Anyone who says they get EVERY listing is not keeping good records.

  6. BawldGuy Talking

    June 11, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Russell — You’ve strewn the ground with gold nuggets for all, as is your habit.

    I’m wondering how incredibly valuable it would be if you and your team did a postmortem on the listings not selling in the last 12 months.

    1. Did you discover new reasons to turn down a new listing?

    2. Was there an area harboring more than their share of unsold listings?

    3. Was there a pattern showing numbers of bedrooms/bathrooms (or other physical attributes or lack thereof) being shunned by buyers?

    4. Was there a particular (and discernible) seller mindset hindering the sales process?

    5. Was there an area/neighborhood which was, for some reason, consistently listed over market value?

    In other words, I wonder if aside from being overpriced, which isn’t your style, there are factors waiting to be uncovered.

    Would this ‘autopsy’ be worth the time spent, Russell?

    Thanks for the peek behind the curtain.

  7. Eric Blackwell

    June 11, 2008 at 10:24 am


    Thanks for the solid info and insight. I’d also (like Bawld Guy) be curious about what the post mortems might look like. A little data mining might either say to be more stringent in taking listings or otherwise help guide your training efforts.

    Well done!


  8. Dru Bloomfield

    June 11, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Well, Russell, that inspired me to go back and look at my numbers more closely. Thanks for the education and inspiration!

  9. Jay Thompson

    June 11, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I’m just stopping by, hoping a little of Russ’ mojo rubs off on me. The man is genius.

  10. Erion Shehaj

    June 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    “So…. anyone going on more than a few appointments (their friends, relatives, etc.) is not listing them all. If they think they are, they are keeping really crappy records.”

    Speaking of keeping records, what does a Millionaire Real Estate Agent use to do just that?

    (I feel an “It doesn’t matter what you use as long as you do it” type of answer coming… But I had to ask. At least until the iRuss hits the sto’ 🙂

  11. mike simonsen

    June 11, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Outstanding info Russell! I love learning how people measure their businesses. It takes real cojones to share so openly. gracias

  12. Andy Kaufman

    June 11, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I’m waiting for the 3G iRuss 2.0 to come out.

    Seriously though… Great advice and really timely info for me personally.

    We do a lot of REO’s and after learning the hard way, we started passing on listings in locations where we felt our safety might be in question. We’ve had a few crazy run-ins over the past year and it’s just not worth risking it over.

    Pricing is a crap shoot and we don’t get the list price until it hits the market and that’s well into the process. Sometimes they’re priced well right off the bat, sometimes they’re not. If they don’t sell, the bank keeps lowering the prices until they do, so that’s not such a big deal.

  13. Holly White

    June 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    When I first got into this business I thought if I didn’t sell every listing I took, there was someting wrong with me, no matter what price the seller set the listing at (even if it was against my better judgement). When I finally got wise and realized that it wasn’t me (and that they shoudl have listed closer to my recommendation), I took listings a little more light-heartedly or didn’t take them at all. If a home is priced right for the market conditions, it’s physical condition and geographic location it will sell. But it’s still a numbers game. Now I need to go back and do some research on what my percentages are. Thanks Russ! I’m in for one of those iRuss’s!

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