Gene Martinez, early Compass recruit, dies

Corcoran alum was one of startup brokerage's first prominent hires

Gene Martinez (Compass)
Gene Martinez (Compass)

Gene Martinez, a longtime New York City sales manager who was one of Compass’ earliest recruits, died Tuesday night. He was 60.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin informed managers of Martinez’s sudden death in an email Wednesday. Reffkin said Martinez played a “critical” role in helping Compass launch offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, where he was the firm’s first regional president. “We would not be the community we are today without him,” he wrote on Instagram.

The cause of death was a stroke, sources said.

When Martinez joined Compass in 2015, he was one of the startup brokerage’s first 50 employees. He came from the Corcoran Group, where he spent 16 years and rose to become manager of its Soho office.

In fact, Martinez’s move to Compass became a flash point in the startup firm’s rivalry with established players.

After he and several other ex-Corcoran managers and agents joined Compass, Corcoran sued the firm, alleging it had “brazenly” raided its offices and poached talent.

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The lawsuit was settled, but a copy of Martinez’s contract, which was submitted as evidence in the case, shed light on Compass’ recruiting tactics, including lucrative signing bonuses and other perks.

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In 2019, Corcoran’s parent company, Realogy, filed a wide-ranging lawsuit accusing Compass of “predatory” recruiting. (Martinez was not mentioned in that lawsuit, which is ongoing.) Compass now has 18,000 agents and did over $91 billion in sales volume in 2019. Earlier this month, it filed confidentially to go public, as The Real Deal first reported.

To satisfy his noncompete with Corcoran, Martinez was director of sales and business development in Miami and D.C., according to his LinkedIn. He later held the same role in New York City. In 2016, he moved to San Francisco to launch that market, and he moved back to his hometown of Miami in 2018 and began working as an agent.

In December, he represented Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner in a $23.5 million purchase of a waterfront mansion in Miami Beach.

On social media, fellow agents recalled Martinez as a caring and effective manager who was generous with his advice. “I am absolutely devastated,” Leonard Steinberg, Compass’ chief evangelist and a fellow early recruit, wrote in an Instagram post.

“He was a coach, confidant, and close friend to many,” Reffkin wrote in an email to Compass managers on Wednesday. “His entrepreneurial spirit was always on display.”