The Real Deal New York

Compass calls truce with Corcoran, Citi Habitats

Startup brokerage accused of raiding Corcoran offices, hacking Citi’s listings system

August 24, 2015 12:00PM
By E.B. Solomont


From left: Pamela Liebman, Robert Reffkin and Gary Malin

After trading legal barbs for much of the past year, Compass buried the hatchet with rival firms the Corcoran Group and Citi Habitats, The Real Deal has learned.

The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement and will dismiss their pending lawsuits, the firms said in a joint statement Monday morning.

In doing so, the firms are putting an end to a bitter rivalry that has played out in the public eye in recent months, and one that saw three of the city’s largest residential brokerages accuse each other of poaching agents, hacking into listings systems, violating non-compete agreements and launching smear campaigns.

Citi Habitats, a subsidiary of real estate giant Realogy, sued startup brokerage Compass last year, alleging that several Compass agents improperly accessed Citi’s proprietary listings database. “Although it continues to deny liability, Compass acknowledges this access,” the joint press release said. Compass, the release continued, “has ensured and will continue to ensure that its employees and independent contractors understand their legal and ethical obligations going forward.”

In a separate lawsuit filed in March, Corcoran – a fellow Realogy company – accused Compass of “brazenly and intentionally” raiding Corcoran’s offices. The suit alleged that several agents improperly took exclusive listings to Compass, and it asserted that managers Gene Martinez, formerly head of Corcoran’s SoHo office, and Patrick Brennan, who headed Corcoran’s Park Slope office, helped lure dozens of Corcoran agents to Compass in the weeks after they were hired.

Compass, led by CEO Robert Reffkin and President Leonard Steinberg, denied the allegations and in a counterclaim, said Corcoran had launched a smear campaign against its former agents, hurting their business and delivering a “thinly veiled threat” to other agents considering a move, which Corcoran denied.

Still, partly as a result of the legal wrangling, Compass introduced a “key-person clause” to allow clients and listings to follow agents if they leave the firm.

In June, Corcoran hired a new legal team and withdrew its application for a restraining order against several former employees, as TRD reported at the time.

In the joint release, the firms pledged to “resolve their differences pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement.”