A Compass spokesperson confirmed the move to Inman Tuesday, explaining that while the members of WSA are coming on board, Compass is not acquiring the brokerage itself (as the company has done in the case of other real estate firms). Up until now, WSA had been a part of Coldwell Banker and as of Tuesday that company’s branding was still a part of WSA’s website.
In a statement to Inman, Compass expressed excitement about bringing WSA team members on board, describing them as “recognized as leaders in the luxury real estate market throughout Los Angeles.”
The transition will be completed on June 1 and the team will ultimately be based in Compass’ Santa Monica office, the company confirmed.
The Real Deal first reported the news of the WSA team acquisition.
The exact size of the team is somewhat open to interpretation. WSA told Inman that the overall size of the group making the transition would be at least 22 people, including both agents and other staffers. However, a spokesperson for Coldwell Banker NRT told Inman that only 11 of the WSA staffers decamping for Compass are agents — and that only agents are typically included in team counts.
Finally, a Compass spokesperson told Inman that with both staff and agents, 17 WSA team members were joining the company. However, if other agents and their staff who in the past partnered had with WSA (but had their own teams) are included, the number jumps up to 24.
Either way, Compass has been steadily expanding its footprint via acquisitions for some time now. In April, for example, Compass acquired Stribling & Associates, a now-former rival operating in the New York City market. In March, Compass announced that it had snatched up Alain Pinel Realtors in California’s Bay Area, and in November the company bought Wydler Brothers Real Estate in Washington, D.C.
And of course last August Compass revealed that it would acquire Pacific Union, a massive California-based indie brokerage. That acquisition sent shock waves through the industry, with some affected agents saying they were “disenchanted.”
Compass has also recruiting aggressively from brokerages that it hasn’t acquired, prompting criticism from some in the industry who take issue with the company’s tactics.
Compass’ expansion has been fueled by enormous investments from, among others, Softbank — a massive Japanese firm that has disrupted multiple industries via the sheer amount of cash it can throw around. In total, Compass has ultimately raised more than $1 billion in equity, propelling its valuation to more than $4 billion.
Acquiring the WSA bolsters Compass’ presence in Southern California. WSA’s listings are clustered on west Los Angeles communities such as Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades and Marina Del Rey — all areas with astronomical home prices.
WSA is led by partners Ron Wynn, Steve Sawaii and Fiora Aston. Compass’ statement about the team said that both Wynn and Aston were drawn to the vision of Compass CEO Robert Reffkin. The statement adds that Sawaii saw transitioning to Compass as an opportunity for greater exposure for both his clients and himself.
Correction: Compass initially stated the WSA team would be based in Beverly Hills after transitioning to Compass. After publication Compass provided update information about the team’s location. This post also initially reported that Compass poached a 22-person team. However, different companies have in this case decided to define “teams” differently by including or not including non-agent staff members. This post has been updated to reflect this varying definitions.