The Real Deal New York

Urban Compass nabs 3 more teams from Corcoran

Startup’s pipeline for new development marketing now tops $1.5B
By E.B. Solomont | September 04, 2014 09:37AM

Real estate startup Urban Compass nabbed three more broker teams – and upwards of $35 million in exclusive listings – from rival brokerage the Corcoran Group.

Among the hires is the top-producing LaChance Team, a five-member unit led by Debra LaChance that is bringing more than $25 million in exclusives to Urban Compass, the brokerage told The Real Deal. The group, which includes Denise LaChance, Ariel Brenner, Betsey Kane Margolies and Kimberlee Knecht, joined Urban Compass as of Wednesday, and their listings were immediately removed from Corcoran’s website.

Also jumping to Urban Compass from Corcoran are the Shafer-McHale Team, comprised of Jesse Shafer, Greg McHale and Natalie Hedden, and the Froelich Team, led by Stacey Froelich, a 12-year Corcoran veteran who closed deals worth $30 million last year. The Froelich group, which includes Carla Slocum Friedman and Robert Godby, is bringing $7 million in exclusives.

“In these three cases, they reached out to us, either directly or through an agent,” said Urban Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, whose goal is to have 200 to 300 agents.

A spokesperson for Corcoran did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, the Shafer-McHale team cited Urban Compass’ focus on technology as a reason for joining the startup. “It is our belief that the agent software Urban Compass has developed represents a serious page-turning moment for the entire real estate industry,” the agents said in a joint statement.

Urban Compass currently has $346 million worth of exclusive sales listings, including the new teams’ listings, the company told TRD. At this point, the brokerage has 82 agents.

Since launching in May 2013, Urban Compass has recruited top brokers from others firms, notably Leonard Steinberg and Hervé Senequier from Douglas Elliman, who brought over about $250 million worth of listings with them. Early on, the firm hired Gordon Golub, former executive vice president of Citi Habitats, and Sofia Song, StreetEasy’s former vice president of research. And this summer, Urban Compass brought on the Hustis/Jovanovic team, also from Corcoran.

In July, Urban Compass hired Roy Kim, formerly Extell Development’s top design executive, to build a new development team at the startup. Previously, Kim worked on projects including One57 and the Carlton House.

Reffkin said Urban Compass now has a pipeline of more than $1.5 billion in new developments in Manhattan, a result of “developers reaching out to us over the course of the summer.” He declined to share additional details about the developments.

The new development team is comprised of seven people, with plans to make two more “key hires,” Reffkin said.

Urban Compass is valued at $360 million, having raised more than $70 million to date. In July, it raised $40 million  in a Series B funding round — this only a year after raising $25 million in a Series A round from investors such as Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Condé Nast parent Advance Publications. Benioff was involved in funding in July as well.

But the brokerage has also been slammed with two lawsuits alleging it stole trade secrets – including a suit filed by Citi Habitats accusing Urban Compass of improperly gaining access to its proprietary listings database. The case is ongoing.