The Daily Dirt: Compass brokers promise to not bring trade secrets with them

TRD New York /
Jul.July 30, 2019 11:00 AM

Compass keeps getting accused of stealing from its competitors. The company has a policy that might help combat such claims.

New hires at Compass are required to sign an agreement stating that they won’t bring proprietary or confidential data over from their old firms, Erin Hudson reports.

While a rarity among real estate brokerages in New York, such agreements are commonplace in Silicon Valley. Tech start-ups and other companies looking to rake in venture capital often employ such contracts to help ward off lawsuits over trade secrets. Compass, which has raised $1.2 billion in VC money to date, has repeatedly faced accusations of data theft and aggressive poaching practices. After being hit with three such lawsuits in 2015, Compass started providing new brokers with a document that spells out what they can and can’t take from their former employers. If they fail to abide by such rules, brokers can be disciplined and even fired from Compass. 

This document could come in handy in Compass’ defense against a lawsuit brought by Realogy earlier this month. In the lawsuit, Realogy accuses Compass of “illicit” business practices, which include data theft, “predatory” poaching and attempts at price-fixing. This and other litigation comes at a time when residential firms are grappling with questions over who owns listing information and what role technology will play in day-to-day brokerage. In the past few years, New York has seen consolidation across the industry, with the closure of firms (Town Residential) and acquisitions (Compass bought Stribling), as well as internal shakeups and massive rebrands aimed at keeping pace with a changing market. 

Speaking of shakeups … After a seven-month search, Douglas Elliman just hired a new chief marketing officer. 

Fashion executive Stephanie Garbarini is now in charge of the firm’s digital strategy, advertising and events. 

In this new role, she will help launch two major initiatives — a rebranding that’s being created by agency Grey New York and Elliman’s creative head Amy Rosenfeld — and a new lead generation platform called “The DE Studio.”

Garbarini will be the fourth person in three years to hold the position of CMO at Elliman. She replaces Samantha Yanks, who resigned last June after only a month on the job. Before that, Dana DeVito headed the department for two years after replacing Nicole Oge, who left in 2016.

Other residential firms have also seen leadership shakeups while undergoing an extensive rebranding. In February, Brown Harris Stevens tapped Pablo Marvel, son of Marvel Architects’ Jonathan Marvel, to be its new CMO. Earlier this month, the firm’s chief technology officer, head of communications and its vice president and director of operations left BHS.

What we’re thinking about next: BH3 Capital Partners took over 125 Greenwich’s senior debt. What does this mean for Silverstein Properties’ plans to refinance the project? Send a note to [email protected]

CLOSING TIME 

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Monday was for a penthouse at 220 Central Park South in Midtown, at $65.7 million. British rocker Sting is the buyer, and Vornado Realty Trust is the seller. 

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an office building at 26-19 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Flushing, at $5.4 million. 

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 165,360-square-foot residential building at 373 East 188th Street in Fordham Heights. The New York City Housing Authority filed the permit application. 

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market on Monday was for a townhouse at 121 East 38th Street in Murray Hill, at $7.5 million. The Corcoran Group’s Kelly Cole has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

Football team Real Madrid visited Hudson Yards last week as part of their U.S. tour, Kevin Sun discovered. Sadly, the team lost 3-7 to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey on Friday. It should probably be noted that Related Companies’ Steve Ross has a pretty strong football connection (to both kinds, actually, but we’ll just stick to soccer here). His VC firm, RSE Ventures, owns the International Champions Cup. 

For those keeping track of TRD’s brushes with fame, K-pop sensation NCT-127 was on our office building’s roof back in March, and two years ago I saw Hasan Minhaj on our elevator and just silently stared at him. Fun stuff.  

Top stories from our other markets:

NATIONAL

In the second quarter, $565 billion worth of mortgage loans were issued as homeowners are increasingly eager to refinance thanks to falling rates. If lending keeps up at this pace, it could mark just the third year since the recession where originations exceed $2 trillion. Large banks like JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all reported an increase in mortgage originations, and smaller independent lenders also did well.

CHICAGO

An Old Town apartment tower offering the city’s most expensive rental unit has secured new financing. Onni Group has taken out a $165 million loan from Citibank on its 32-story rental building on North Wells Street, the first completed tower in its Old Town Park megaproject. Onni is working to build the next two phases of the massive project.

LOS ANGELES

Two brokers have left the Agency for Douglas Elliman, the latest in a long series of departures from the luxury residential brokerage. Since January 2018, the Agency has lost at least 47 agents. Many of those are top producers, such as Cindy Ambuehl, Don Heller and Dan Urbach, who joined Compass.

MIAMI

Companies tied to developer Russell Galbut’s Crescent Heights sold the Bentley Hotel on Ocean Drive for $28 million. Led by Shadi Shomar, an LLC acquired the majority of the condo-hotel units and the ground-floor retail at 510 Ocean Drive. Shomar’s Sunnyside Hotels & Resorts is now managing the property. — Compiled by Alexi Friedman


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