The Agency Los Altos adds agents as other firms shrink

Luxury residential brokerage has doubled first Silicon Valley office’s headcount since June

The Agency Los Altos' Elizabeth Thompson, Shilpa Merchant, Nisha Sharma, Suzanne O’Brien and Vicki Ferrando (The Agency Los Altos, Getty)
The Agency Los Altos' Elizabeth Thompson, Shilpa Merchant, Nisha Sharma, Suzanne O’Brien and Vicki Ferrando (The Agency Los Altos, Getty)

The Agency has added another five agents to its new Los Altos office, the latest measure of the luxury residential brokerage’s push into the Bay Area as other firms cut staff to prepare for a slower housing market.

Beverly Hills-based The Agency picked up former agents from Intero, Compass, and Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno over the last two weeks, a spokesperson said in an Oct. 21 email.

Vicki Ferrando, Suzanne O’Brien and Nisha Sharma join from Intero, Elizabeth Thompson comes from Sereno, and Shilpa Merchant arrives from Compass. In June, The Agency picked up five Compass agents to found the Los Altos office; the group notched about $200 million in 2021 sales. The office’s latest crop of hires has more than $220 million in combined sales over the past year and almost 100 years of experience among them, according to The Agency and the agents’ bios.

Sereno CEO Chris Trapani said in a statement that he and the firm wish Thompson the best in her future endeavors. Representatives for Compass and Intero didn’t respond or follow up on requests for comment.

The new hires bring The Agency Los Altos’ headcount up to 17, more than double what it was in June, Managing Director Quetzal Grimm wrote in an email. The firm opened its 3,800-square-foot office earlier this month, joining ones in Sonoma County, the East Bay, Marin, Carmel and a few others in Northern California. Los Altos is The Agency’s first Silicon Valley office, and it’s working on opening a second in Los Gatos, which would give it a presence in the region’s northern and southern ends.

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The firm is increasing headcount as some of its competitors, including the residential brokerage sector’s biggest players, lay off staff to cut costs and prepare for a slower housing market. Venture-backed Side this week confirmed it conducted a new round of job cuts, declining to disclose an exact number. Compass laid off an unspecified number of employees last month and plans to cut expenses by $320 million. Keller Williams Realty cut nearly 5 percent of jobs at its Austin base in August, the brokerage’s fourth round of layoffs in less than a year. And Anywhere Real Estate, the nation’s largest real estate brokerage holding company, made an unspecified number of job cuts that same month.

While some have argued that the recent spate of layoffs doesn’t represent an industry-wide trend, it underscores how The Agency’s continued growth and new office openings — the firm recently opened one in San Diego in addition to Los Altos — make it somewhat of an outlier among its peers. The firm will need to continue hiring at a steady clip if it wants to better compete with the likes of Compass and Coldwell Banker Realty in the Bay Area’s brokerage scene.

The pair occupy the top two spots in the San Francisco Business Times’ latest list of the region’s largest residential brokerages, with more than 4,300 agents in the Bay Area between them. The Agency, meantime, didn’t crack the Business Times’ list of the top 25 brokerages or its latest rankings of the region’s top-selling residential agents and teams — a reminder of the firms it will need to overtake to get a significant market share.

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