This top-producing Baird broker jumped to Compass. She just jumped back

A top-producing agent in the suburbs, Denise Curry returned to her longtime company after 3 months at the Softbank-backed startup.

Denise Curry and homes along Chicago's Prairie Avenue (Credit: iStock)
Denise Curry left Baird in mid-August for Compass before returning last week. (Credit: iStock)

In its two years in the Chicago market, Compass has done what Compass does in numerous other cities it enters: poaches top brokers from competitors.

That was the case with Denise Curry, who left her longtime gig as a luxury broker for Baird & Warner in August for the lure of the Softbank-backed startup. But in an unusual move, Curry — a top-producing broker in the northwest suburbs — just returned to Baird & Warner.

Curry said she realized she had made a mistake a short time after leaving Chicago-based Baird, where she started in 2006.

“There’s great people, great technology at both places, but the culture [at Baird] is more conducive to my style of selling,” she said.

A Compass spokesperson said the firm doesn’t comment on former agents out of respect for their privacy.

After beginning conversations with Compass in February, Curry moved her business to the New York-based residential brokerage over three months ago. She returned to Baird last week, along with another member of her team, Crystal DiDomenico, who had been at @properties before moving to Compass.

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Curry said she didn’t leave Baird with the intention of ever returning.

“I was intrigued by the carrots they dangled in front of me,” Curry said, referring to Compass’ offer. “But in the end, money isn’t everything and culture can make or break your happiness.”

Curry, a listing agent in the northwest suburbs, focuses on Palatine, Inverness and Barrington, which mostly comprise luxury homes. Her annual sales volume typically ranged between $25 million and $40 million, she said. But with the Chicago area’s luxury market mired in a slide, that dropped to around $19 million this year, she said.

Curry pointed to Baird’s strength in the suburbs as another reason for her return. The firm, she said, “has market share out here, and it was just an alliance that I missed.”

The 164-year-old Baird, founded in Chicago, ranked as the third biggest brokerage in the city with nearly $3 billion in total sales in 2018, according to a Real Deal analysis. It now has nearly 2,400 brokers across 28 offices.

When Compass launched in Chicago in November 2017, it went after some of Chicago’s top brokers in an effort to establish itself as a dominant player.

Its first and perhaps biggest catch was the city’s top-selling residential broker, Jeff Lowe, who remains at the firm. In its first year, Compass established itself as the sixth biggest brokerage in Cook County by sales volume, with over $1.4 billion in total sales, according to TRD’s analysis. Compass Chicago has grown to more than 815 agents in the past two years, a spokesperson said.