The Real Deal New York

NRT CEO goes after Compass for “taking advantage” of its agents

Ryan Gorman blasted the brokerage in an email to his executives
February 21, 2019 05:45PM

Ryan Gorman and Robert Reffkin

With a $4.4 billion valuation and a massive national expansion, Compass has become a major player in the brokerage landscape — and attracted its share of criticism. This time, it’s coming from NRT CEO Ryan Gorman.

In an email to his executives, Gorman claimed Compass was “taking advantage” of its agents and said that brokers should be skeptical if recruited by the firm, Inman reported. NRT, the brokerage-owning entity of Realogy, includes Corcoran Group, Citi Habitats, Sotheby’s International Realty and Coldwell Banker.

“When I find that a competitor is taking advantage of the people I love… my jaw clinches, my focus narrows, and my resolve hardens. Most recently, the competitor fitting this description is Compass,” Gorman said in the email. “And I can no longer remain silent as entrepreneurs’ livelihoods are put at risk. I need to equip you, and arm our agents, with tools to excavate the truth.”

Along with the email, Gorman attached a two-page guide, entitled “Help Agents Avoid Being Thrown Off Course By A Spinning Compass.” It includes more than 30 questions agents should ask the brokerage during the recruiting process — including the company’s view on data as well as its financial stability and dependence on SoftBank’s funding.

“SoftBank’s Vision Fund is reportedly rapidly running low on cash,” the attachment said. “What does this mean for Compass? Is this why Compass is halting expansion?”

“What you talk about is a representation of what you are focused on,” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said in a response to Inman. “We don’t tear down competitors, we don’t pay attention to the noise, what we focus on is empowering agents.”

To that, Gorman said he welcomes competition. “But when a competitor fails to uphold the basic ethics and integrity that this industry has together worked so hard to build, and puts the people I care about in jeopardy, I cannot sit on my hands,” he said.

Compass and NRT are both among the country’s top brokerages. Compass has grown to more than 8,000 agents nationwide and said it closed more than $35 billion in sales volume last year. By comparison, NRT closed more than $178 billion in sales in 2017.

Last month, Compass said it won’t enter any new markets in 2019 and will instead be focusing on hiring and growth in its current markets. The firm is hitting pause after encountering a few challenges in some of its new markets, Reffkin said at the time. While markets like Dallas launched smoothly, others — which he declined to name — faced issues like subpar office space, not having the right managers and under-supported marketing. [Inman]Meenal Vamburkar