These are the leaders of our industry. They are the drivers! They are the ones making the biggest difference!

Leadership is about showing the way, especially during times of change. It's about enabling and empowering your team to succeed at higher levels and beat out the competition. Change the rules. Create new opportunities. Buy your competitor. Maximize your revenue. These leaders have done that ... and in spades!

What makes the Swanepoel POWER 200 (SP200) unique is that we have integrated in one list all the different types of leaders in the real estate industry, even though they succeed and/or serve in different sectors of our industry. Some have entrepreneurial power or financial strength, some hold high office and have positional power, while others have political clout and some have personal power.

Power is an elusive concept. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as "the ability or right to control people or things." Of course, that raises the question of what is meant by "control." Control is defined as directing the behavior of, or to cause a person to do what you want. Power can also exist even though it may not be exercised, because simply having power can discourage others from challenging it. So you could just imagine the healthy debate we had as to what criteria should be used in creating a list of the most powerful people.

As we stated last year, creating this list is more art than science and we are the first to acknowledge that the list is not perfect. If you question any specific person's ranking, remember we did too - at least a dozen times. This is not a popularity contest nor did we do a headcount or tally up sales revenue. We understand it is very hard to compare people when they do not all have the same data or criteria by which to measure them. We did however try to make it as much science as possible by taking into account theses types of data points as well as the financial resources of the company or organization, the organization's significance and contribution to the industry, the company's geographic reach, the individual's personal influence, his/her tenure in the industry, the office he or she holds, the decision-making power of said office, report lines, ownership and activities during the past year as well as future growth, and potential.

What makes this list extraordinary is that we received literally hundreds and hundreds of recommendations and ultimately reviewed nearly 1,000 contenders. We scoured the Web, read hundreds of bios, read hundreds of Linkedin pages, sent hundreds of requests for additional information, made endless telephone calls to verify or confirm stats, and cross-referenced data with surveys, reports and company announcements. We however respected major leadership changes shared with us that were not yet officially announced.

In the end, the SP200 editorial team debated each person lengthily, making adjustments based upon decades-long experience and knowledge of many, many people and companies on the list. I personally have met 50 percent of the leaders on this year's SP200 and have known a good number of them for more than two decades. I even personally had face-to-face meetings and/or telephonic discussions with some 30 percent of them just in the last six months alone. This is our space and we now it very well. With that said, the SP200 editorial team still invested over 400 hours to bring you the best possible list.

There is no pay-to-play, no old boys club, and no favors for friends. If you made it to the SP200 you are most certainly deserving of your inclusion and we salute you! So here they are, the 200 most powerful people in residential real estate for 2014/15.

The Most Powerful People in Residential Real Estate 2014/15