EXCLUSIVE: Compass acquires 22-person WSA team from Coldwell Banker

The WSA team specializes in Westside property and the move is effective June 1

From left: Robert Reffkin, Steve Sawaii, Ron Wynn, Fiora Aston and Ori Allon
From left: Robert Reffkin, Steve Sawaii, Ron Wynn, Fiora Aston and Ori Allon

UPDATED: May 21, 12:14 p.m.: Compass is acquiring the 22-agent WSA Real Estate team — adding to a string of acquisitions part of the brokerage’s expansion in Los Angeles.

The deal for the WSA team — led by partners Ron Wynn, Steve Sawaii, and Fiora Aston — is effective June 1 and included a sign-on bonus and stock options, a source close to the deal told The Real Deal.

Wynn and Compass confirmed the deal on Tuesday.

The team, working out of the Westside, specializes in Silicon Beach cities including Santa Monica, Culver City and Venice, as well as Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, and neighboring areas. Team members moving to Compass include agents Brett Raskin, Andrew Thurm, and Deborah Thurm. A source said that Michael and Tanya Tolido were following the team to Compass as well, but a representative for Compass said they haven’t officially joined the brokerage.

Venture capital-backed Compass has signed agents at a dizzying pace in markets around the country over the last several years, including many from rival brokerages. A steady trickle of individual agents have defected to the ever-growing giant, but Compass also acquires teams and brokerages.

Its pace of acquisitions has helped boost its sides by 228 percent — from around 10,500 in 2017 to around 34,600 last year. That’s a higher percentage gain during that period than any other major brokerage in the country, according to Real Trends.

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Compass has made big gains on the West Coast, adding 1,700 agents in California overnight last year when it acquired Pacific Union International. That included 20 offices in Los Angeles.

The WSA team is the second L.A.-area Coldwell Banker team to leave for Compass this year. An eight-person team out of the South Bay area joined in March, around the same time Compass signed top producing agent Tyrone McKillen from Hilton & Hyland.

Compass has poached top producers from the Agency this year as well. Don Heller and his team joined last month and former Agency partner Cindy Ambuehl signed in March.

Some criticize the firm for its recruitment practices. In 2017, Agency CEO Mauricio Umansky called Compass’ tactics “horrendous and disgusting to the industry,” and predicted the firm would be out of business by 2022.

Largely in response to Compass’ tactics, some firms in New York have tightened up “clawback” policies to recoup commissions and other costs departing agents, hopefully discouraging defections or at least softening the blow.

Zillow recently sued the company over its poaching practices, claiming it was attempting to steal trade secrets by hiring away Zillow’s former head of artificial intelligence and others. A Compass spokesperson denied that it had done anything improper, adding that “you cannot break a non-compete by leaving to go to a company that does not compete with you.”