Jim St. Andre, a luxury townhouse specialist, is joining Compass after a four-year run at CORE.St. Andre sold $210 million worth of real estate last year, Compass said, including a penthouse at One Madison that was last asking $26.95 million, and a townhouse at 317 West 11th that traded for $15.75 million last January.
“I had a remarkable experience at CORE,” St. Andre said this week, confirming his move. “But the opportunity at Compass was very compelling and I felt like it was the right time to make a transition from where I was.”
Prior to joining CORE, St. Andre spent more than a decade working with Peter McCuen at his eponymous boutique firm. He was a professional soccer player before turning to real estate.
For CORE, losing St. Andre comes at a time when the boutique firm is being squeezed by competition and a slowdown in the luxury and new development markets. But his departure is likely to sting because he’s the latest CORE agent to join Compass in recent months. Others include Heather McDonough and Henry Hershkowitz, as well as the team of Todd Lewin and Michael Rubin. And last year, Compass hired CORE’s top two sales executives, Doug Heddings and David Innocenzi.
In a statement, Shaun Osher, CORE’s CEO, acknowledged that it was tough to say goodbye to St. Andre and his team.
“Jim had the best year of his career,” he said. “With that said, it is difficult to turn down a seven-figure signing bonus in an increasingly uncertain market.”
Although Compass has denied it offers those kinds of massive bonuses, the seven-year-old firm hasn’t been shy about hiring aggressively.
“Jim, Heather, Michael and Todd embody the values of Compass and will be fantastic partners as we build the world’s most agent-centric company,” Rory Golod, Compass’ New York general manager, said in a statement.
Osher, however, offered a different take: “CORE’s business is unique — our focus is on new development and agents who specialize in that,” he said. “Most of the agents who moved to Compass were not new development agents.”
He said he has no plans to deviate from a successful strategy. “By doing this, we can continue to stay selective boutique and profitable.”
To his last point, it’s unclear how many of Compass’ offices are profitable, and it is clearly pouring dollars into its expansion.
The firm, which was valued at $4.4 billion after a Series F round led by SoftBank and Qatar Investment Authority, claims it is the third-largest brokerage in the U.S., with 238 offices (up from 62 in 2017). In New York City, the firm now has 12 offices and 1,440 agents.
McDonough, who moved to Compass this fall, said she’d lived through several market fluctuations, and wanted to position herself to ride out the latest dip — at a large firm.
“When we moved to CORE and Related, we thought it was our last stop,” she said. “But with the disruption and everything that’s going on, it’s harder and harder to compete at a smaller company… I started feeling it in conversations with sellers. I always overcame, but the conversation has started to change with the consumer.”
McDonough — who worked at Douglas Elliman and Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group — said she liked the culture and technology offerings at Compass.
“I think you either have to own the technology or buy the technology,” she said. “I felt like it was really important to go with a company that owns the technology and is invested in it.”