San Francisco-based Compass continues to navigate to new markets, most recently heading due east from its headquarters to establish an office in Lake Tahoe.

  • The Lake Tahoe market is largely driven by second-home owners from the Bay Area, many of whom are already familiar with Compass, according to Team Blair Tahoe Broker and co-owner Nicole Blair.

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New York-based Compass continues to navigate to new markets, most recently heading due east from its San Francisco office to establish an office in Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Real Estate Group, a 30-year-old independent brokerage based in Tahoe City, California, will become part of the fast-moving real estate brand that promises a technology-first, agent-focused approach to buying and selling houses.

Co-owner and broker Nicole Blair, who runs the family company along with husband, broker and co-owner Jamison Blair, and founder and broker Gayle Blair, told Inman that what other major brands were selling them to come on board was never compelling enough to warrant the jump.

“Actually, I approached Compass, after seeing what they built in Aspen, I realized that it could be done here in Tahoe,” she said.

She made her initial contact with Compass at Inman Connect New York 2018.

Jamison Blair, when asked why Compass caught their eye after so many years of success as an independent brokerage, said it was about technology, marketing and keeping pace with industry trends.

Compass has been valued at to $2.2 billion.

“It’s been hard to keep up with everything that’s happening out there, and in terms of marketing, we know how to do it with our listings, but not as much for ourselves,” he said. “We no longer have to hire people to send newsletters or create marketing materials, they have people working on it right now.”

The Tahoe Real Estate Group will enter into an agreement with Compass that will bring an initial six agents into the transition, including each of the Blairs.

They have tentative plans to grow into other markets within the Tahoe region, such as Truckee, Northstar and perhaps South Lake Tahoe, but will only do so if the right kind of agent is available.

“We know what kind of agents we like to work with, and so does Compass. It’s part of what we liked about them, that they’re agent-focused,” Jamison said.

The Lake Tahoe market is recognized as a world-class vacation destination, and many of its second-homeowners hail from the home equity-flush Bay Area. It’s largely a winter destination, with more than 20 regional ski resorts, many of which sustain their own real estate “mini-economies.”

“Ninety percent of our clients are from the Bay Area and are familiar with Compass, so the news was received very positively,” Nicole said.

Nicole Blair, also a licensed attorney, is known too as the founder of PAM, or Pocket Agent Mentor, an app that helps mentor and guide new agents. She was a participant at ICNY18’s StartUp Alley and will be in San Francisco this month.

Compass has made public plans to reach 20 percent marketshare in the country’s top 20 metros by 2020, most recently expanding in Florida with a new office in Naples. While Lake Tahoe is not a national top 20 metro, much of its economy is based on Bay Area tourism and homeownership.

Asked about the occasional industry backlash stemming from Compass’s unique venture capital-based expansion and tech-forward brand, both Blairs remarked that their experience has been very good and very professional.

“The support we’ve been given, the excitement they’re showing for us, and the exposure so far has been fabulous,” Nicole told Inman.

The new Compass office in Tahoe City

Jamison added that if some in the industry don’t care for Compass’s reputation, it would be news to them. “We’ve been getting a lot of positive, interesting calls from other local agents on the news and other local stakeholders in the industry.”

The brokers said they’re looking forward to learning how to use Compass Connections, the company’s proprietary marketing and business management platform, which will take four to five months to put in place, according to Jamison.

Signage and marketing information is in the process of being converted to Compass, and a new website is also underway.

The new office has hit the ground running in terms of listings, actively selling a 3,000-square-foot penthouse in the middle of The Village at Squaw Valley that was built by former Cisco CEO John Chambers. The $3.4 million unit has four bedrooms, four-and-half bathrooms and views of the adjacent Olympic Valley and Squaw Valley resort.

The company is also marketing a rare 5-acre horse property near Lake Tahoe’s coveted Carnelian Bay, called “Timberwolf.” It’s listed at $2.9 million.

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