As relative industry newcomer Compass further expands its footprint into the Chicagoland area, competitors are welcoming their nascent rival with open arms and using its growth to push themselves even further.
On Monday, Compass announced the acquisition of The Hudson Company, a boutique brokerage serving the area’s North Shore communities. The move brings the New York-based Compass’s total agent count to more than 350 in the Chicago area and closer to its goal of having 20 percent market share in the nation’s top 20 markets by 2020, according to Rob Lehman, Compass’ chief growth officer.
“When we move into a new market and a major market level like in a Chicagoland area, our expectation is that we want to draw a really fine balance,” Lehman told Inman by phone earlier this week. “Our expectation is that we very quickly are on a path to be the single market leader in that market.”
Fran Broude, president and chief operating office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the top brokerage in Chicago in terms of transactions according to Real Trends’ 2018 report, told Inman the area is experiencing tremendous growth, which will naturally attract competition.
“In order to capitalize on that growth, we have focused heavily on acquisitions and recruiting,” Broude said.
“In 2017 alone, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage executed six strategic acquisitions, within areas of Northwest Chicago, Old Town, West Loop, Palos Heights and Oak Park,” she added. “Those acquisitions and heavy recruiting now allow us to provide an even higher level of service to existing and prospective clients.”
Laura Ellis, the president of residential sales and executive vice president of Baird & Warner — the third biggest brokerage in Chicago in terms of transactions according to Real Trends — told Inman that there is plenty of business in Chicago real estate, and she welcomes the competition.
“After 163 years of leadership in real estate, we know a thing or two about competition — and we welcome it,” said Ellis. “As the brokerage that has pioneered most of the technology that today we take for granted, we appreciate there will be new players who believe they can bring value to homebuyers and sellers.”
“Baird & Warner is Illinois’s largest family-owned independent brokerage based on experience, innovation and integrity — it is those qualities that have fueled our growth momentum and positioned us for another record-breaking year,” she added. “There is plenty of business in Chicagoland real estate, and there are many ways to access a share of that market, so we expect new competitors to continue entering and exiting as they have over the years.”
Despite the implication that the Chicago real estate market is booming, media reports from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine show that people have been fleeing the area for the past three years, with the metro area population declining. If many of those leaving are homeowners, that means more properties will likely hit the market, giving Realtors more inventory to sell. But it also theoretically makes selling them a tougher task, as people look to buy elsewhere.
The area’s second biggest brokerage in terms of transactions, the tech-savvy @properties, declined to comment for the story.