TRD analysis: How Compass came to dominate one of LA’s hottest neighborhoods

The brokerage dominantes the increasingly expensive L.A. neighborhood, TRD data shows

Kurt Wisner and Robert Reffkin (Credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images)
Kurt Wisner and Robert Reffkin (Credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images)

The northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake – filled with trendy coffee shops, organic grocery stores, and a popular reservoir – is Compass territory.

For homes sold in the 90026 and 90039 zip codes in the second quarter of 2020, 42 percent of the sales volume came from Compass listing agents.

Home sales in 90026 and 90039 zip code. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Home sales in 90026 and 90039 zip code. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

That’s from a market with $125 million in total residential sales volume from the start of April through the end of June. Sotheby’s International Realty ranked a distant second with 4.6 percent, and Nourmand & Associates placed third at 3.9 percent.

The numbers come from The Real Deal’s analysis of Redfin data, which gets its own information from the National Association of Realtors-sanctioned Multiple Listings Service.

Silver Lake shows a couple of key developments in L.A. real estate: the rise of east L.A. neighborhoods – that is, those farthest from the coastline – as an alternative to west L.A. markets, and the breadth and depth of Compass’s recruiting.

“The buyer pool here has grown as the East Side has become more popular, and the fanciest neighborhood on the east side is Silver Lake,” said Kurt Wisner, the neighborhood’s top agent by sales volume, and a recruit from Nourmand to Compass in 2016.

The 90026 and 90039 zip codes that most closely overlap with Silver Lake include the affluent Atwater Village neighborhood near Glendale, and a working class area around Angelino Heights.

There were 100 property sales in the neighborhood during the second quarter, a 29 percent decline year-over-year, as L.A. residential sales across plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Prices, however, held steady with a $1.3 million average sales price, a slight increase from the second quarter of 2019.

Average sale prices in 90026 and 90039 zip code. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Average sale prices in 90026 and 90039 zip code. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

By comparison, the average sales price of seaside town Santa Monica was $3.1 million in the second quarter, while Silver Lake’s neighbor to the northeast, Pasadena, had a $1 million average sales price.

According to Wisner, an agent in the neighborhood since 2007, Silver Lake’s average per square foot –$672 in the second quarter — has doubled in the last ten years.

Alex Barad of Nourmand & Associates markets the neighborhood as a bohemian or yuppie counterpart to west LA. “There’s movers and shakers and young celebrities everywhere here,” Barad said.

There’s also Compass signs everywhere. Compass CEO Robert Reffkin recruited Wisner and erstwhile sales partner Courtney Smith in 2016, and the Courtney & Kurt duo (a knowing reference to grunge royalty) has dominated the neighborhood.

Wisner recorded 12 total sales in the second quarter totaling $8.5 million, according to TRD’s analysis. Sohail Yousaf of Sotheby’s was next with $4.9 million, thanks to a single deal, with Robert Kallick of Compass third with $3.8 million. Asked if he had a rival in Silver Lake, Wisner pointed to Tracy Do, a fellow Compass agent.

As they do in Beverly Hills, Compass rivals in Silver Lake claim the brokerage used its pile of venture capital money to give bonuses and unsustainably high commission splits for agents to continue doing what they had done before.

“Compass disrupted the market by simply collecting the top agents that already had significant market share,” Barad said. “Those agents are just continuing what they had been doing.”

Wisner disputes the notion that Compass hasn’t enhanced his business. “They have slick agent assistant tools, like a new comparative marketing analysis program,” Wisner said.