Keller Williams NYC’s agent count bounced back while Compass’ growth slowed

Compass’ poaching days could be over: Corofy brokerage report

Keller Williams' Lauren Balbuena and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Keller Williams, Getty/Illustration by The Real Deal)
Keller Williams' Lauren Balbuena and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Keller Williams, Getty/Illustration by The Real Deal)

UPDATED, Jan. 17, 10:00 a.m. — When it comes to agent count, New York’s residential agency market had its fair share of winners and losers in 2021.

That includes Keller Williams NYC, which significantly increased its agent count, and Compass, whose agent growth plunged to 9 percent after two robust years, according to Corofy’s 2021 brokerage report.

The real estate intelligence platform’s report highlights agent movement, detailing the number of agents who joined the industry, left the industry, switched firms and more.

One of the biggest standouts was Keller Williams NYC, which experienced a comeback after losing more than a third of its agents in 2019. In 2021, the brokerage increased its agent count by more than 40 percent for the second year in a row.

Corofy CEO Eddy Boccara called the rise “the biggest turnaround happening in the industry.”

The shift came in July 2020 after Keller Williams NYC left its 15,000-square-foot office in Tribeca for a bigger office at 99 Park. The move to Midtown was also a departure from its previous owners, Ilhan Bracha and Haim Binstock, who owned the building. Keller Williams’ Fanny Montalvo and Lauren Balbuena led recruitment efforts.

Another highlight was newcomer eXp. The brokerage quickly made its way to the No. 4 spot among top firms by agent count in New York, despite only entering the local market in 2019. The virtual brokerage increased its agent count by 59 percent annually in 2021.

On the flipside, the two largest firms in terms of agent count saw their growth slow. Douglas Elliman, which took the No. 1 slot, had about 2 percent fewer agents than it did at the beginning of the year.

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While the number of Compass agents grew by 9 percent in 2021, that increase was still far slower than previous years when agent count increased by 31 percent in 2019 and 24 percent in 2020. The slump could be a sign that Compass’ poaching days are coming to an end, Boccara said.

“It doesn’t work anymore,” Boccara said. “There are fewer agents willing to move from one firm to another.”

About 67 percent of agents that joined Compass came from another firm, with most coming from Bold Realty and Douglas Elliman. But overall, the average number of agents who switched firms in 2021 has fallen for the past two years, according to the report.

Instead, firms are more interested in recruiting new talent and using their resources to improve the organization and get them to stay.

Compass, Corcoran Group and Keller Williams NYC topped the list of New York firms that were popular among new agents. Leading the way for retention was Sotheby’s International Realty with its retention rate of 90 percent, followed by Fillmore Real Estate and Exit Realty First Choice.

Overall, the number of real estate agents in New York increased by 2.3 percent annually to 133,512 in 2021. That’s also a smidge above pre-pandemic levels: 0.1 percent higher, to be exact.

All regions of New York experienced increases in agent count, but Hudson Valley recorded the largest influx of agents. The region had 5 percent more agents in 2021 than it did at the beginning of the year, which marks growth nearly twice as fast as Long Island and 20 times as fast as New York City.

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