Compass gets the cold shoulder

Town’s Andrew Heiberger cancels new development presentation for 100 East 53rd amid poaching fears
By Katherine Clarke | November 01, 2016 11:00AM

Robert Reffkin and Andrew Heiberger

If the residential real estate world were the high school cafeteria, venture capital-backed brokerage Compass would almost certainly be the kid eating lunch alone.

The three-year-old start-up, headed by Robert Reffkin TRData LogoTINY and Ori Allon, has irked so many brokerage chiefs with its aggressive poaching strategies that one has actually banned company representatives from its offices, according to sources.

Town Residential CEO Andrew Heiberger told The Real Deal that he had canceled a presentation of Aby Rosen’s new development project 100 East 53rd Street at Town’s flagship Flatiron office last month because it was being given by Compass’ new development team, which is exclusively marketing the project. The presentation was just “another aggressive and unethical attempt at recruiting Town representatives,” a Town spokesperson griped.

Heiberger himself claimed that Compass executives have deployed a systematic barrage of digital, phone and in-person offers peppered with perks, prizes, incentives and smear tactics in order to recruit from Town. At one point, he became so fed up that he even invited Reffkin to come and give a presentation to his agents about Compass, which Reffkin declined, he said.

Brokerage firms regularly allow their competitors to present new development projects to their agents in the interest of keeping them informed and encouraging co-broking deals, Heiberger said.

“Compass has a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, but through brazen attempt after attempt, that responsibility has clearly taken a backseat,” Heiberger told TRD. “While it might not be illegal to aggressively and blatantly poach another firm’s agents, this persistent behavior is only hurting their clients.”

A Compass spokesperson said hundreds of agents, including many independent contractors from Town, have visited the 100 East 53rd Street sales gallery.

“We are happy to co-broke with everyone, as we always have done so,” the spokesperson told TRD.

Town is not the only firm that’s had it with Compass’ tactics. Last month, residential brokerage giant Douglas Elliman slapped Compass and its president — Elliman alumnus Leonard Steinberg — with a lawsuit over an alleged scheme to poach agents and steal exclusives.

“While Compass claims to be an innovative new brokerage for New York City, its strategy relies on little more than…capitalizing on Douglas Elliman’s successful training and development, stealing Douglas Elliman techniques and materials while passing them off as Compass’ own and inducing property owners to breach their exclusive brokerage contracts,” the complaint stated.