I've noticed something in this recent down market. I guess in hindsight, I've noticed it before - but not to the extreme that it seems to be now:
In a down market, the top producers get an even bigger slice of the listings pie.
Every road I drive in my neighborhood, it seems like 90% (95%?) of the signs are for the top 3 or 4 agents in my area. Gone are the lone agent from out of town, or in the next county. Gone are most if not all of the smaller brokerage offices.
Top producers are getting the listings because sellers don't have the time, energy or interest in messing around with a listing that is going to languish on the market.
Top producers are also getting the listings because they never stop marketing themselves. Not even in a down market. Their advertising budget and marketing plans are set far in advance.
Top producers aren't necessarily that much better at marketing and selling a property than an above average agent - but they are degrees better at marketing and selling themselves.