Ryan Gorman, CEO of NRT, the brokerage owning subsidiary of holdings giant Realogy and the top brokerage in the U.S. by annual sales volume, criticized rival brokerage Compass as “taking advantage” of agents in an email to his executives obtained by Inman.

“I can no longer remain silent as entrepreneurs’ livelihoods are put at risk,” Gorman’s note states. “I need to equip you, and arm our agents, with tools to excavate the truth.”

Gorman also sent along a two-page-long attachment entitled “Help Agents Avoid Being Thrown Off Course By A Spinning Compass,” which includes over 30 different questions he encourages any potential agent recruits to ask Compass before signing on to work with the fast-growing, venture-funded, private brokerage.

The questions focus on Compass’s rapid growth, financial stability, company healthcare program, views on technology and data and agent stock options.

Read the full text of Gorman’s note below, and see the full questions document embedded immediately after:

I have a confession: I am not a competitive person.

In this fiercely competitive industry, that truly is a confession.

I love, respect, and admire the driven, relentless, and accomplished professionals with whom I work. Competition motivates them, and their success motivates me.

Helping our agents live exceptional lives gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me awake all night. Collaboration is my caffeine. Service is my mission.

Spending even a calorie thinking about how to counter a competitor’s misleading claims instantly drains me of all joy… which is why I have not penned this message sooner…

But I am protective.

I love — not like, not enjoy… love! — those I serve. Our agents are entrepreneurs in the truest sense, earning it every day by delivering trusted advice and incomparable service for their clients.

These busy professionals barely have time to hit the gym or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. And they certainly don’t have time to separate fact from fiction with all the noise swirling around our industry.

So when I find that a competitor is taking advantage of the people I love… my jaw clinches, my focus narrows, and my resolve hardens.

Most recently, the competitor fitting this description is Compass.

And I can no longer remain silent as entrepreneurs’ livelihoods are put at risk. I need to equip you, and arm our agents, with tools to excavate the truth.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis famously shared, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” To that end, I am attempting to shine a light on Compass’ claims and ever-changing “facts.”

Attached are questions any agent can use with any Compass recruiter or executive to discover the truth. Please share these questions to help your agents avoid being thrown off course by a spinning compass.

Our goal should always be to provide objective guidance and unmatched support to those who entrust their real estate careers to us. That includes helping our agents discover the truth, especially when it is well-hidden. Thank you for all you do, every day, to deliver on that promise.

Most sincerely,

M. Ryan Gorman

 

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin responded to Gorman’s critique in a statement to Inman.

“What you talk about is a representation of what you are focused on,” Reffkin said. “We don’t tear down competitors, we don’t pay attention to the noise, what we focus on is empowering agents.”

Compass has exploded into one of the top brokerages in the country over the last year, expanding from 27 markets to 122 in 2018 alone, and nearly quadrupling its office count. The brokerage now has more than 8,000 agents nationwide and says it closed over $35 billion in sales volume in 2018.

NRT meanwhile is the top brokerage in the country in sales volume, having closed more than $178 billion in sales volume in 2017, according to the Real Trends 500.

But Compass’ growth has drawn the ire of many in the industry, now, including Gorman.

Compass and NRT have a bit of history, swapping agents. In October 2018, Compass nabbed a 17-person team from Coldwell Banker and December, a husband-and-wife duo left Pacific Union for Coldwell Banker after Pacific Union was acquired by Compass.

Ryan Schneider, the CEO of NRT’s parent company Realogy, recently appeared on stage in a cordial conversation with Reffkin to debate the future of real estate brokerages at Inman Connect in New York City.

After initial publication, Gorman followed up with a statement responding to Reffkin.

“I believe competition raises the level of play, and I welcome it,” Gorman said. “But when a competitor fails to uphold the basic ethics and integrity that this industry has together worked so hard to build, and puts the people I care about in jeopardy, I cannot sit on my hands.”

“The ‘talk’ coming from Compass behind closed doors is disturbing, and yet even in public forums, such as this publication, the inconsistencies, exaggerations and flip-flops by Compass executives are deeply concerning.”

Update: Story updated with additional comment from NRT CEO Ryan Gorman. 

Email Patrick Kearns

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