“I needed to be in an environment where I was getting the information I need to have as a busy agent — pocket listings on sales that are happening, who the players are [etc.],” he said. “At Coldwell Banker, we have high-end networking meetings once a month for top agents and we didn’t have that [at Compass].”
Watson, an estates director at Coldwell, said the New York-based brokerage firm, which was most recently valued at north of $1 billion, may be experiencing a culture clash.
“It’s interesting how New York people come into L.A. and think they’re going to change things,” he said. “This is one of the most fickle and unpredictable towns.”
Watson got his start in the industry 29 years ago, jumping into real estate right after college. He moved from Calgary, Canada to L.A. in the mid-1990s and never looked back. His celebrity clients have included tennis legend Pete Sampras; actress Milla Jovovich; and designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent.
“What made me get into real estate is the idea I could be my own boss,” he said.
Since launching in Los Angeles in 2015, Compass has been on a hiring spree. But since September, at least seven agents, including Watson, have left after a year or less.
The focus on nabbing top talent instead of fostering supportive relationships with new hires may be to blame, said a source with knowledge of the exits.