Lasting Impact: Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO of Compass, founded a new brokerage from scratch with a focus on attracting and acquiring the practices of over 26,000 agents in its first 10 years in business. He took the tactic of building a national brokerage business from acquiring brokerage firms to directly acquiring agents and teams through the use of upfront bonuses, stock options and marketing allowances.
While Reffkin wasn’t the first leader of a brokerage firm to use financial incentives to attract the practices of top agents and teams, (think RE/MAX 40 years ago) he was the first to do so on a scale never imagined before.
In doing so, he opened two doors — that top agents and teams realized that their practices had value. And, that one could build a large brokerage through the acquisition of agent and team businesses as opposed to using capital to buy brokerage firms.
In addition, his use of equity in the brokerage firm on a large scale as a part of the financial incentive to attract agents opened the door for others to do so, as well. While one can argue that eXp began to use shares of a brokerage firm to attract and incentivize agents to join a team, Reffkin certainly used that equally to good effect.
Reffkin also built what has become the largest brokerage in the U.S. in less than 10 years. The only firm to do so as quickly was today’s Anywhere Real Estate, which had its roots when HFS (its predecessor) acquired the owned brokerages of Coldwell Banker back in 1996 and began to aggressively acquire other brokerage firms. By the late 1990s, it became the largest brokerage in the company, then known as NRT.
One may debate which path was more effective, buying brokerage firms or agents, regardless Reffkin has changed the landscape of brokerage forever.