The Real Deal New York

Kyle Blackmon leaves BHS for Urban Compass

Hall Willkie takes the gloves off in statement about Urban Compass' future

November 21, 2014 12:05PM
By E.B. Solomont

From left: Kyle Blackmon, the $88M penthouse at 15 CPW, Hall Willkie and Robert Reffkin

From left: Kyle Blackmon, the $88M penthouse at 15 CPW, Hall Willkie and Robert Reffkin

Kyle Blackmon, one of the city’s elite luxury brokers and the holder of the distinction of New York City’s priciest closed sale, has jumped to Urban Compass from Brown Harris Stevens, The Real Deal has learned.

Blackmon brokered the $88 million sale of Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill’s penthouse at 15 Central Park West to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2012 — a deal that is still New York’s City priciest closed apartment sale. He’s closed about $1 billion in sales since 2003, according to Brown Harris Stevens’ website.

Blackmon’s departure is Brown Harris Stevens’ highest-profile exit of the decade. President Hall Willkie said in a surprisingly no-holds-barred statement that “Kyle has made the decision that the equity proposition offered to him trumps a singular focus on brokerage.”

“Selling real estate has always been and will always be what we do at Brown Harris Stevens,” Willkie continued. Blackmon couldn’t be reached for comment.

A memo circulated today to Brown Harris agents and staff said the value of Blackmon’s equity in Urban Compass “will be dependent on the success of Urban Compass’ founders implementing their vision of selling their company for substantially more than many industry experts believe is possible – especially considering their recent switch to a traditional brokerage model.”

Blackmon, who started his real estate career at Brown Harris as an intern 12 years ago, was the firm’s No. 1 broker in 2012. He ranked 24th on The Real Deal’s annual list of top brokers, with $135.8 million in listings.

It’s unclear what listings he’ll take with him to Urban Compass. The startup brokerage, now valued at north of $350 million, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Blackmon is Urban Compass’ biggest recruiting coup since Leonard Steinberg came over from Douglas Elliman in June.

  • LES broker


  • James

    Urban Compass will take over the city. Deal with it.

  • good pick up

    Good for Urban Compass!
    This 350M valuation is a bit much though!!! I mean companies like Elliman and Corcoran with decades of proven numbers in multiple markets could never get that type of money. Unless UC posses some type of secret that the public doesn’t know
    about, the net dollars are just not there and they may have borrowed more than
    they will ever be worth (people are blind to this part). It sounds wonderful and I hope I am wrong because it’s a good company with a lot of good people.

  • NYC broker

    Really?? Wow!!
    Are they still required to wear the red backpacks? Or was that also scrapped when the original business model they raised all the cash for was abandoned? How is Urban Compass worth $300+ million, if they’re now just another broker cherry picking agents with large sign on bonuses?
    They have made it clear they are a “tech” company and not a regular brokerage. They thirst for people’s information to sell them on other everything else in their life past the real estate deal. I can’t imagine Kyle’s clients will want all their info shared within the company’s database. Should be interesting…

    • JG

      you clearly have ZERO idea of what you are talking about

      • NYC broker

        Why what other part was changed? It’s no longer a “tech” company now too? I’m lost… Too many moving parts.

        • JG

          NYC Broker, you’ll never know because you’ll never be hired at Urban Compass. Sorry.

          • NYC broker

            That’s what you tell people, as to what makes your company different??
            I couldn’t have said it any better… There is no difference!!
            I can’t get an answer from anyone, part of the company or not, about 1 thing that separates you from the pack. Why would I do business with you guys?? Why would I list my property with you??
            I was just told I’m CLUELESS & have ZERO idea what I’m talking about… Nice staff working there!
            (I’m not in the business, I’m using a friend’s account…)

          • youwishyoucould

            You’re an idiot. And if you work there an even bigger idiot. UC is just another POS “start-up” that is going through different business models to see what works. Being a half rate brokerage with agents that received large sign-on bonuses won’t go far. No one is loyal to a company, especially not one like UC. What a total joke.

          • Good Luck U.C.

            If you are an example of the type of employee Urban Compass hires then I or anybody with a half a brain will never list their home with you

    • Ben

      Hahaha you are so clueless it’s hilarious

    • gigi gigi

      I want to know whether his associate, Lauren Bankart, went with him or not…she is the one every high end broker should be after. Smart, presentable, well liked…she could be the golden ticket

      • Not following the crowd

        Lauren Bankart is STILL with Brown Harris Stevens because as you said – she is “smart”

  • it doesn’t add up

    120 agents, two offices = 350M.. Hmmmmm, I want what their drinking.

  • 7figuresignonbonus!

    It will be interesting to see how he does without Will Zeckendorf and Hall Willkie holding his hand and feeding him business. Don’t spend the $1,000,000 sign on bonus….

  • john

    Ouch!!! Whos next…

  • tgif

    Like my friend at Urban Compass would say,”Gameeeee Changerrrrrrrrr”. Good luck to them.

  • Fran

    Not sure all the potential sellers at 15CPW are going to be in Kyle’s pocket any longer. Leaving the Christie’s affiliation at Brown Harris Stevens for an unestablished entity for a huge signing bonus may come back to kick him in the ass.

    • Steve

      Agree 100%.

  • phil

    they are only worth that much because that was the valuation when investors bought in. im glad the arrogant firms who have a quasi-illegal cartel in the hamptons are losing market share. but all the technology in the world is not going to change the fact everyone in the brokerage business is delusional in ignoring….price sells the house, not the agent or agency.

  • NYCREobserver

    $$$ Talks big time for UC…who’s next?
    UC is going after all the BIG Boyz so watch out as Steinberg takes control of NYC RE!

  • Analyst

    It’s a bigger bubble then all those luxury buildings on 57th Street! In the end of the day those brokers take extremely high splits plus huge sign in bonuses plus equity which leaves almost nothing for the company! It’s a brilliant branding gimmick and will help establish the company as a recognized brokerage faster, but in the end of the day they’re losing so much money that at some points their investors will realize it’s a dark hole that just sucks money! No matter how much deals Kyle and Leonard will close the company would never be able to return the money to the investors. I interviewed with them just for the fun to try and understand better who they are – each manager and then the agents said different things about the company and the vision. On one hand they want to stay small and boutique and quality (which I didn’t see) and on the other hand others said they want to expand and conquer the business…. It’s an impulsive company with no clear strategy or vision that the owners realize the only thing they can do at this point is sign big names and give the little equity they have left and hope for a miracle that it will succeed or that they’ll be able to sell/flip it to some idiot with too much money and clueless about how real estate and brokerage works in NYC.

  • Amused

    I’m amused/puzzled by these responses of agents/staff in UC… This is brokerage and each person makes his own deals! Yes, those big names will help the firm establish a brand and bring some listings, but if that what you want then you could have gone to Elliman, Corcoran, BHS and so… Unless they didn’t want you since you don’t produce enough. You guys are the lambs lead to be slaughtered that fight who would be first or who’s juicer… When the company started they needed each one of you no matter how much you made and you felt special… A different company… You got leads and attention, but with these big hires you no longer mean anything… You’re no longer going to get those nice leads… They’ll go to those top brokers or they’ll get pissed and leave… You think you’ll be able to compete on a big listing?? Those agents will compete with you and beat you or tell the owners to get you off it or they’ll leave… They’ll never allow you to compete with them! So instead of attacking anyone here who is realistic or trying to understand what is going on with this firm and how did anyone get to those ridiculous valuations of $350M when the company barely worth $20M, you should focus on how it impacts you and stop being a lamb!

  • BHS Agent

    For a company that preaches customer confidentiality as a core value, I’m surprised BHS and Hal Wilkie would email the entire company what Kyle told them in private about his motivations for moving. Agents are just as much a BHS customer as buyers and sellers.

    • Tyrannosaurus Rex

      This tosses confidentiality out the window. Who’d trust anyone at BHS after this?

      • Informed

        This has nothing do with confidentiality. Anybody who knows anything about NYC real estate knows that brokers (top producers that is) are leaving their current firms to go to Urban Compass for equity share. Simple as that. Everyone knows that. No breach of confidentiality here.