During an Inman Connect panel on Wednesday, Compass’ CEO argued the brokerage’s in-person philosophy gives it an advantage over rival firms “charging the least and giving you the least.”

Inman Connect is LIVE Aug. 8-10! Join us for impactful interviews, cutting-edge conversations and networking with thousands of real estate pros. Get valuable takeaways to thrive in a rapidly shifting market. Can’t come to Vegas? Register now for a virtual ticket.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin on Wednesday argued that successful real estate professionals need to do their work in person to succeed, while also offering critique of rival companies that operate using a remote-work philosophy.

Reffkin made the comments while on stage at Inman Connect Las Vegas Wednesday morning. Prompted by questions from moderator Brad Inman, Reffkin defended his requirement that Compass staffers return to the office five days a week, saying “it’s not about productivity it’s about connectivity.”

“You don’t care about people you don’t meet in person,” Reffkin said, later making the point that by spending more time with people in person agents can be more successful.

Reffkin’s point was that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many real estate professionals “took their foot off the gas.” In other words, numerous people decided to operate remotely, communicating via text message and Zoom. He recalled a specific situation in one of his company’s offices in which multiple people were tuning into their weekly meeting via video conference and not even turning their cameras on.

“Their faces aren’t even showing,” he lamented.

But for agents who do show up, the situation represents an opportunity to connect more deeply with people, gain market share and beat competitors at their own game.

“When your competitors are on a text message, you should meet in person,” Reffkin said. “It’s all about in person.”

The comments echo Reffkin’s previous statements. In January, for example, he pronounced that he was “all in on in-person,” while also decrying the concept of the home office.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin at Inman Connect Las Vegas Wednesday. Credit: AJ Canaria Creative Services

Much of Reffkin’s commentary Wednesday had to do with the way real estate professionals in the trenches operate day-to-day. But midway through the session, Inman asked about other companies such as eXp Realty and Real — the latter of which is a U.S. company run by an executive who lives in Israel.

Reffkin was clearly reluctant to call out rival companies by name, and he mentioned repeatedly that he respects other firms. He even went as far as to say he believes he can learn from other players in the brokerage space.

But he was also clear that he thinks the in-person strategy Compass is pursuing is superior and will pay long-term dividends. And he said that “there’s nothing that’s going to be better for Compass than CEOs” from other firms working in places other than those where their agents are located.

Reffkin went on to describe Compass’ strategy as one of charging a more conventional commission split while “providing the value that justifies it.” Meanwhile, he said that other companies will be the “best in the world at discounting,” which he described as “charging the least and giving you the least.”

And he argued that many other firms are moving in that direction whether they like it or not.

“My point is that the majority of traditional brokerage firms are going to become eXp and they won’t even know it,” Reffkin said.

Reffkin ultimately argued that company culture and connections simply can’t be as strong without meeting people in person. And he said that the trend toward remote interaction and the rise of the “discount” brokerage model represents an “opportunity for Compass.”

“It’s never been easier to be successful,” Reffkin said. “The path to success is being more human.”

Update: This post was updated after publication with additional commentary provided by Compass.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription