Compass CEO asks Congress to include agents in stimulus

“When they can’t show a property, they can’t earn a living,” Robert Reffkin said

TRD NATIONAL /
Mar.March 19, 2020 08:00 AM
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company)
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company)

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin implored Congress to include independent contractors in a massive economic stimulus package that will help bail out the faltering U.S. economy.

In a letter Thursday to Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, the chief executive of the SoftBank-backed brokerage urged lawmakers to consider economic benefits for independent contractors, which includes real estate agents, and “not limit this essential support to W-2 employees and the most-frequently-discussed industries.”

In the letter, he cited the “crucial” importance of sheltering in place and social distancing, but said those policies prevent agents from showing properties. “When they can’t show a property, they can’t earn a living,” he wrote.

He said agents may not earn back lost revenue until “many months” after the financial and housing markets stabilize, because they aren’t paid until after a home sale closes.

“As is true across our stratified economy and within every industry, there are agents who are massively successful and others who are struggling to make it from one paycheck to the next,” he wrote. The gross income of the median agent is roughly $41,800 per year before taxes and health insurance. Two-third of agents are women and 63 percent are over age 50.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said in a statement that it was talking with lawmakers about stimulus options. “Last week, we urged Congressional leaders to include robust protections for small business owners and the self-employed in this bill,” Shannon McGahn, NAR’s senior vice president of government affairs, said in the statement. “This bill does both, and with the structure of the tax credits, financial relief will come quickly.”

Compass is scaling back its lending programs amid the coronavirus pandemic, and other national brokerages including Redfin and RE/MAX have suspended open houses.


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