Stan Richman on buyers going directly to listing brokers and Compass’ LA expansion

Stan Richman of Compass
Stan Richman of Compass

When Beverly Hills real estate veteran Stan Richman jumped to Compass last November, it signaled a shakeup in the industry. 

Richman had managed Coldwell Banker’s top-producing office nationwide. The 200-agent Beverly Hills North office sold more than $2.1 billion worth of real estate in 2013. Richman’s client rolodex included the composer John Williams and Bob Dylan.

At Compass, Richman is the firm’s regional vice president, responsible for growing its footprint on the West Coast. We sat down with Richman to discuss hiring strategy, the shakeup in the industry and what to do when buyers go directly to listing brokers they found on Redfin.

DOB: November 30, 1946

Hometown: Van Nuys

Family: Married, two kids, one grandchild on the way

You’ve been working on the Westside for decades. Do you have clients that go all the way back?

(Film producers) Kathy Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Kathy did star wars, Frank did Jurassic Park. I’ve bought and sold them homes for 16 years. They are two creative people and I never know what they are gonna do or change. It’s like, what’s gonna happen this year? Two years ago, they decided to buy the Bea Arthur estate in Sullivan Canyon. When Jurassic Park was just coming out, they bought the first house in Pacific Palisades and sold it to Tom Hanks. That’s what makes this business incredibly fun. You wake up not knowing what’s gonna happen, and every agent should wake up feeling that way.

You grew up in the Valley. How did you make your way to 90210?

I grew up in the valley during the 50s. It was an idyllic childhood. We would pick fresh fruit on the way to Hazeltine Elementary. I went over the hill to UCLA and that convinced me I wanted to live on the Westside, especially because it was 15 degrees cooler. Growing up in the Valley, our AC was fans and water. But I’m still friends with a lot of people I grew up with who are in entertainment.

Why is Compass taking on Los Angeles now?

It’s an exciting time now. Capital investment is far exceeding anything I’ve ever seen, from Downtown to Playa Vista. More people believe in L.A. now.

Describe your morning routine.

It varies day to day, but I get up real early at 5:30. I read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the L.A. Times with a giant cup coffee and my wife and our two dogs. I usually go to the gym for an hour and play tennis at 7:15, and then I get in the office between 8:30 and 9:15. I’m usually answering emails, on social media and catching up with agents for the next few hours. I pride myself on going to listing appointments with agents. I usually have lunch on the street in Beverly Hills. I’ve been on Canon Drive sine 1979, so I’ve seen the growth of the neighborhood. It’s astounding.

How many agents do you have now in Beverly Hills?

We have 74 agents. It’s growing faster than lightning.  

Where do you look to find the right hires?

We vet agents with other agents before we even go into the process of hiring them. We’ve got a good group right now and we can hopefully grow much larger.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

You were a star at Coldwell Banker, which just shuttered its Sunset Strip office. Are you seeing the entrance of Compass, and also Douglas Elliman, shake things up in L.A.?

Coldwell Banker is a well-established company. I don’t know what the reasoning was behind shutting Sunset. I think it’s shaking up everyone, not just Coldwell Banker. I think that happens, and it’s good for everyone. It’s good for our community. Change (is) good for business.

What are some of the changes you’ve noticed in the past few years?

We’re seeing more buyers from New York and the East Coast in general. The high-end market has been so strong in recent years, and a lot of people think it’s foreign money, but that’s 5 to 10 percent of what we do. If people track the amount of wealth coming from the East’s bigger than I’ve ever seen.

What is different about working for Compass vs. Coldwell Banker?

Well, I never thought I’d leave my last company. I was there almost 20 years. But Compass offered something I’d never seen. It was tremendous marketing with design talent, with technology. We’re just beginning in Southern California, but every agent has a person who is their go-to for technology and marketing from day one. Another difference is that top management is young (at Compass).

Where do you live?

I live three blocks from the office in Beverly Hills. I’ve lived there since 1984.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Los Angeles?

I’m a big Italian guy, so I love the Drago brothers’ restaurants.

What mistakes do young brokers make?

Giving up too easy. Perseverance through ups and downs: If you don’t have that characteristic, you won’t make it. I interview an amazing amount of agents and always refer to tortoise and hare. This is a tortoise business. There are a lot of hares who start out strong but don’t follow up. It’s the most competitive it’s been in my 30 years.

A lot of brokers have been lamenting that buyers are going directly to listing brokers via sites like Trulia. How do you counteract this?

You counteract it by being on top of it every day and every hour. You have to prove to a buyer that you’re of worth to them. The great brokers I know in this city earn their weight in gold by how they negotiate. Now, because of the internet, buyers go thinking they can get a better deal, and with the listing agent representing both parties, they aren’t really getting representation. It’s imperative that someone negotiate for them.

What is your outlook on the luxury real estate market. Is it leveling out?

I think there’s two phases. Under $20 million (is strong), especially done homes, but over $25 million, it’s just gonna be much tougher. Luckily we still have a lot of wealth, but what’s really changing is people who bought land and were going to build have decided not to build and are trying to make profit on the land. I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen with that marketplace. But with done homes, people will pay top dollar.

You mentioned Los Angeles changing. What do you see in its future?

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see condos surrounding Dodger Stadium soon.