A few months before Compass filed confidentially to go public, CEO Robert Reffkin made another hush-hush move.
The brokerage chief went into contract on a penthouse in Tribeca in June and closed a month later, according to property records, which identified the buyer as Red Heart Friends LLC. Sources confirmed that Reffkin is the real owner.
The pad is located in a limestone-and-brick building on Greenwich Street. The property — built in 1911 and originally home to tea, soap and candy manufacturers — was converted to 62 condos in 2005.
Reffkin’s duplex penthouse spans 4,500 square feet and has 2,200 square feet of outdoor space. The unit has four bedrooms and 4.5 baths, with white oak floors, atrium windows and skylights accented with blackened steel, according to the listing. The terrace has two levels and an outdoor kitchen.
The purchase price — an 18.25 percent discount from the original $20 million price tag — works out to $3,633 per foot.
During a September appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Reffkin opined on the strength of the U.S. housing market and said he was bullish on cities — particularly New York City.
“I put my money where my mouth is. I actually bought a home in New York City since Covid hit,” he said. “Everything we love about New York City is still here, we just need to wait until a vaccine comes.”
He did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
According to the Olshan Report, which tracks luxury sales in Manhattan, the buyer’s agent was Josh Wesoky, a former investment banker who was one of Compass’ earliest recruits in 2015.
The Corcoran Group’s Danny Davis had the listing. Neither Davis or Wesoky could be reached for comment.
Records show the penthouse’s prior owner — Big Moose LLC — paid $11.5 million in 2015. After a three-year gut renovation, it was listed for $20 million in September 2019, according to StreetEasy. The seller later dropped the price to $18.995 million.
In June, Davis told Olshan that Wesoky previewed the apartment before it hit the market.
The buyers, who were living in a Tribeca rental, only toured the apartment on their own after there was an accepted offer, Davis was quoted as saying. Some of the furniture was included.
The origin of Reffkin’s LLC, Red Heart Friends, is unclear. But in 2016, he told Built In NYC about a card game he liked to play with his young daughter. “I deal the cards and she asks for a red two with hearts,” he said. “Until she gets that she isn’t quite happy.”
Reffkin’s new home is within walking distance of Compass’ headquarters at 90 Fifth Avenue.
His stake in the eight-year-old firm is unknown, but his stock agreement came to light in 2019. Reffkin’s original stock — without dilution or any selling of shares — amounts to roughly 8.5 percent of the company, or $517.5 million, according to evidence provided in Compass’ ongoing suit with Avi Dorfman, who claims to be a co-founder. That’s based on Compass’ $6.4 billion valuation after its last funding round in July 2019.
Although the residential market froze up in March and April, it’s been booming in recent months.
Home sales in November dipped 2.5 percent from October, the first decline in six months, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. In addition to low mortgage rates, demand has far exceeded supply.
The same hasn’t been true in New York City, which was an epicenter of early Covid cases in the U.S. During the fourth quarter of 2020, Manhattan sales slipped 20.6 percent, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Sales above $5 million slid 28 percent year over year.
But Compass is seizing on the strong national market — and hot IPO environment — to go public.
The brokerage, which has raised $1.5 billion from investors including SoftBank, Fidelity and Dragoneer, filed confidential plans for a public offering earlier this month, as The Real Deal first reported. With 18,000 agents, it was the No. 3 brokerage in the country in 2019 with $91.3 billion in sales, according to data firm Real Trends.
In September, Reffkin said Compass’ consumer web traffic was up 180 percent year over year, which he interpreted to be an indicator of future demand. “We believe the increased activity is going to persist in 2021,” he said.