The Agency snags three Bay Area Compass teams in expansion push

Home sellers in Oakland, Alamo and Los Altos switch affiliation

The Agency Snags Three Bay Area Compass Teams
The Agency's Hope Broderick, Aaron Smith, Linda Wang and Carolyn Gywnn (The Agency, Getty)

The Agency has poached three more Bay Area teams from Compass as it continues its expansion in Northern California. 

➤Oakland-based agent Hope Broderick is joining The Agency after a nearly four-year run at Compass. Before that she was affiliated with The Grubb Company for nearly two decades. She is joined by business partner Aaron Smith, who has a long history with The Keys Company in Miami and teamed up with Broderick in late 2021. They had a combined volume of $59 million in sales in the Oakland, Piedmont and Berkeley markets in 2022 and $34 million thus far in 2023. 

Smith said via email that they made the switch because The Agency is “boutique in nature” and would elevate their clients’ experience through “personal touch.” 

➤Carolyn Gywnn, who represents homes in Diablo Valley and Lamorinda and averages more than` $30 million in volume each year, will join the Agency’s Alamo office after being with Compass since 2015. 

Gwynn, whose average price point is around $2 million, said the opportunity to collaborate with other Alamo and Danville-focused agents, as well as The Agency’s “exceptional” marketing and PR divisions, convinced her to make the switch.

➤Los Altos agent Linda Wang has had $60 million in sales so far this year and also defected from Compass to The Agency, which started its Bay Area push in Los Altos and Los Gatos about a year and a half ago. 

Wang said via email that she moved to The Agency in large part because “I know everyone” in its growing Los Altos office.

The Agency started its NorCal expansion in the South Bay and has been working its way north and east ever since, according to President Rainy Hake Austin.

“It’s not accidental,” she said of the brokerage’s heavy Bay Area recruitment strategy. “We target markets that have higher average sales prices, where the market and the community speaks to the luxury lifestyle that our brand represents.” 

The Agency primarily reaches out to agents who broker a mix of higher and lower luxury sales to create a “full ecosystem” in each office, she said, adding that the company’s average price point is $3.5 million. 

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The company also looks for those with a collaborative reputation.

“It’s not a shark tank,” Austin said, with Agency brokers often teaming up on listings rather than competing for them. “It takes a certain breed of agent to be willing to do that.”

In some cases, getting agents on board took several months of outreach, and in some cases just weeks, Austin said. Oftentimes, the conversations centered around “fear and frustration” about the lack of inventory and how to get their businesses moving again.

“People maybe got a little bit lazy” during the boom times of the last few years, Austin said. “So part of what we do is hold people accountable and help reinvigorate them, inspire them.”

Of the 72 Northern California agents who have joined the L.A.-based Agency so far this year, 34 have come from Compass, according to The Agency’s figures, representing about a half-billion dollars in volume. The effort is not focused on recruiting agents in San Francisco for the time being, Austin said, but will be expanding its Woodside presence into Portola Valley, and stepping up efforts in Palo Alto and Burlingame.

Austin said the Agency isn’t targeting Compass agents in particular as it expands, but it’s to be expected since Compass has by far the biggest market share in the Bay Area. Plus, she, and several other top brass at the Agency used to work for Compass in the Bay Area so there’s “a lot of longstanding relationships” with those agents. 

A NorCal Compass representative said via email that some who have left the brokerage for The Agency have also returned as of late, including one in the East Bay who came back in a matter of months. Some agents have cited Compass’ superior technology as the reason for their return.

The Agency has a “very strong technology offering,” according to Austin. But “it’s not our bread and butter” the same way it is for Compass, which, she said, bills itself to agents as “a technology company who happens to operate in the real estate space.” 

“We do not try to position ourselves as a tech company, but more so as a full-service real estate broker who if anything is more of a marketing and media company who is operating in the real estate space,” she said. “We find people who look at that as being attractive.” 

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