Founding Agents Reflect on Their First Year at Compass Dallas

It’s that time of the year, when brokerages are toasting, and praising, those hard-working top producers who killed it in 2018, selling millions of dollars of dirt during a year that, while not one of the toughest on record, saw a significant market contraction and rising interest rates.

Celebratory events have been happening across town, at every major brokerage.

At Compass Dallas, a different kind of celebration has been going on: the company’s one-year anniversary in Dallas.

On January 19, 2019, the 24,000 square foot, shiny new Preston Center office was loaded with food, drink, cake, chair massages and more. Last year, on January 19, 2018, Compass launched its 11th brokerage in the U.S. in Dallas, disrupting nearly every established broker in North Texas. Compass came in as a tech company, its internally-designed platform front and center for agents to make their lives easier, their sales bigger, their futures more secure. The firm’s CEO aims to have 20 percent market share in the top 20 U.S. real estate markets by 2020.

Within weeks of opening the office, while “camping” at the Collective, top producing agents switched to Compass so quickly we could not keep up with the migrations, frankly. Some we had to post in our sleep. What was it about the Compass culture that intrigued, and won over, these agents so quickly? What is it about Compass that keeps them coming? And coming…

Christy Berry

Founding Partner Dallas, joined Compass January 1, 2018

Christy Berry and her former Real Estate business partner, Jonathan Rosen, flew to New York City in 2016 to seek out Robert Reffkin with Compass. They had heard so much about what Compass was doing on the east coast, particularly in New York City, and they intuitively knew Compass was going to be a major industry force. Both Christy and Jonathan had always tracked changes in their industry to stay ahead of the curve and offer clients the very best service.

Christy and Jonathan wanted to bring the company to North Texas.

“But Robert told me they were not ready, at that time, to expand into Dallas,” says Christy. They returned back to Dallas and planned their new firm, The Collective Residential, which opened in February of 2017.

The Collective Residential was a luxury-focused boutique real estate firm headed by Christy, who has her brokerage license, and Jonathan Rosen.

“The Collective Residential fused traditional real estate services with innovative methods of collaboration in a setting that optimized a seamless experience for our clients and agents,” Christy told me.

“It was a relationship-driven, agent-centric concept.”

Sound familiar?

The impetus for this venture was to create a luxury boutique brokerage that would cater to high net worth clients and luxury properties. The Dallas market, felt Christy, was not nurturing agents at a time of great upheaval in the industry.

In December of 2017, Robert Reffkin called Christy and Jonathan and told them Compass was ready to expand into Dallas.

“We worked very hard, very quickly, to have Dallas ready to transition to Compass by December 31 of 2017,” says Christy. “It was an incredible time crunch. I knew we had to be ready to roll out January 1st in order to attract the top producing agents in town.”

Christy Berry has been selling luxury real estate properties in North Dallas since 2007. She and her husband live in Preston Hollow, where they raised their five children. Christy is also extremely philanthropic and a member of Crystal Charity Dallas, on the board of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and a board member of the Child Care Group. She is currently listing several North Texas luxury properties, among them 5031 DeLoache and 4906 Park Lane, in Preston Hollow.

Jonathan Rosen

Joined Compass January 19, 2018 

Jonathan Rosen, Principal Agent of The Rosen Group, was a founding member of the Compass Dallas office. Many in the industry were surprised by his move. Jonathan, while barely into his thirties, had risen in the ranks of top North Texas producers very quickly, beating more experienced colleagues with his sales prowess. His move had every Preston Hollow and Park Cities agent on alert.

“Christy and I really wanted Compass in Dallas. No one can provide what Compass can,” says Jonathan. “The company had an incredible head start before they came to Dallas. Dallas is still old-school real estate — traditional firms that are brand-driven. But that is rapidly changing. Wall Street is here.”

Jonathan loves that Compass is a tech company. The Dallas-Fort Worth general manager comes directly from Facebook, the founders are a businessman and a computer science/engineer with footholds in Twitter and Google. In the tech world, says Jonathan, if you are four to five years behind in progress, it’s really more like ten years — that’s how quickly innovation multiplies. So while other local brokerages are just now talking up technology, Compass has years on them.

“Berkshire Hathaway and Keller Williams are now running after tech,” says Jonathan. “We are already there. And I use those tools to be a better agent, to amplify the marketing side so I can really focus on servicing my clients.”

An obsessively service-oriented agent, Jonathan Rosen has always given his clients white-glove treatment, with professional services more akin to a Wealth Manager.

“If I won’t buy it, I won’t let my clients buy it,” he says of properties. “We bring a high level of execution and quality, and we know the market intimately. We know the value difference between living on Maplewood versus Miramar.”

But was it difficult, moving from a well-etched local brand, to convince clients to stay?

“It took some coaching,” says Jonathan. “Once clients understood they still had me, and now with even better marketing capabilities at my fingertips, they were fine.”

The bottom line is always, always selling the house, says Jonathan: that’s all sellers really care about.

“I explain how Compass equips me with the tools to be a better agent for them, and they get it,” says Jonathan. “Compass could be on track to become one of the biggest sole-owned real estate companies, so it’s an easy move to explain.”

Michelle Wood & Amy Detwiler

Joined Compass January 19, 2018

“We were happy where we were,” says Michelle Wood. “We were the top-producing team and poised for more growth.”

Then Michelle and Amy sat down with Robert Reffkin.

“We were so inspired by our meeting with Robert,” says  Michelle. “I knew instantly we were needed to join Compass on the front end, or else we’d be competing with them.”

The support, the pedigrees, true financial support for agents in a smart, forward-thinking mode. Robert, say these ladies, served it up to them on a silver platter.

“Every firm just started looking the same in Dallas,” says Amy . “With so much digital marketing out there all changing so quickly, nothing was changing in Dallas residential real estate. Compass offered a platform to embrace the changes in our industry.”

Amy and Michelle work a team of seven: themselves, one other active agent, and four marketing/administrative staff.

“This wasn’t a monetary move, it was strategic. We retained all our clients but one,” says Amy. “Michelle and I are very entrepreneurial– we wanted to offer our clients more, and improve our team year after year.”

Though 2018 involved three office moves for the Detwiler+Wood team, production never suffered. In fact, 2018 was the team’s best year to date.

“”More than $175 million sold,” says Michelle.

That beat their previous best year, 2016, when they sold $160 million in Dallas dirt.

“I feel like Compass really listens,” says Amy. “They respond. Like when we told them the signs were too small, they changed them quickly.”

Amy and Michelle LOVE the culture in their new office, even if its a whole floor-full of over-achievers.

“We are all collaborative,” sasy Michelle. “Not competitive, no turf battles.”

Tiffany and Brandon Hawkins

Joined Compass February 1, 2018

Tiffany and Brandon Hawkins were at a coaching conference in Palm Springs, California when they got their first call from Robert Reffkin.

After their telephone conversation and first meeting with Robert Reffkin, Tiffany and Brandon were sold. Compass, they learned, was building a company around agents, putting the agent, and the importance of the agent, first. It was so refreshing to hear.

Compass is focused around the agent and helping us serve our clients faster, with innovative technology and giving us tools to create a better home buying and selling experience,” says Brandon. 

The power couple was intrigued by the technology component.

And there was that nagging feeling that if they didn’t get on board, they might be left behind.

Moving was certainly nerve-wracking; did they have a Plan B, I asked?

“No Plan B, we believed it would work!  With the top agents moving to Compass across the country and here in Dallas, it gave us confidence to move fast,” says Brandon. 

2019 is on track already to be their best year ever.

Everyone is excited to be here, the energy is high and the atmosphere is positive which creates a great work environment for productivity,” says Tiffany.

Julie and Frank Provenzano

Joined Compass February 5, 2018

Julie and Frank Provenzano have not always been a husband and wife real estate powerhouse, but they have been working together as a couple from the very beginning.

Frank, the former Assistant General Manager of the Dallas Stars, met his wife when he was a front office executive working for the Washington Capitals. Julie was running the team’s website. Their “secret office romance” blossomed into marriage, and then the move to Dallas and the Stars. 

Julie cut her teeth the old fashioned way, by hustling to build relationships as a newcomer to Dallas – with the Stars relationship really starting to flourish in the last few years.  Thus when her husband retired from the Stars in 2013, he thought about joining his wife in her burgeoning real estate business. He spent a few years developing a digital fan engagement platform, then got his license in the summer of 2017.

“Compass just felt like the future,” says Frank. “It’s not promising that we will merely survive as Realtors, but that we will thrive.”

Julie’s athlete relationships are certainly an important part of her business, but the bulk of her business is definitely her long-standing client relationships and their referrals. Real Estate, she says, is still all about relationships.

“But the changing landscape is driven by technology,” she says. “Compass provides the tools to help us build better relationships, and utilize a technology platform that is more 2019-styled.”

The internet, says Julie, has democratized information, including real estate information. But a key component is helping clients navigate the scads of information, changing market dynamics, and make smart decisions.

“How do you tell the story of who you are and the house you are selling online so it best fits on a mobile screen?” asks Julie.

Real estate today, she says is much more image-based — photos, videos, anything that makes the property come alive! The key is to get buyers engaged in the visuals.

“The Compass DNA is tech,” says Julie. “Before, I had great ads and great photography, but now I’m learning how to USE it, how to ENGAGE people, and how to be fluid in all media channels.”

Matt Wood 

Joined Compass January 10, 2018

Always check your email spam, because you never know when something life-changing is going to end up in that pesky little box.

For Matt Wood, the first email from Robert Reffkin went into his spam file.

Fortunately, Robert is known to be persistent, and he sent Matt another message: “let’s talk about Compass.” Matt was fascinated. He first spent some time researching Compass, and what he learned was, he says, daunting.

“I came from a fund-raising background,” says Matt. “I was not a top producing agent, but was working with a strong producing team. I do believe relationships are the core of our business. I serve my clients at the highest, and sometimes the lowest, points of their lives.”

Matt’s business creed, in fact, almost matched the Compass motto verbatim: helping people find their place in the world.

And so when he finally did meet with, and talk to, Robert Reffkin in person, everything the Compass CEO said resonated with Matt to one of those “ah ha” moments.

“There have always been aspects of the real estate business I liked, and some I did not like,” he says. “Compass settled that. The entire company is built around the agent, for the agent. The industry is competitive and cutthroat, but Compass’ model encourages collaboration.”

Most real estate business comes to agents from the people they know, their sphere of influence, says Matt. This is a concept Matt will be exploring with agents as the manager of Compass’ new East Dallas office, located in Lakewood near Times Ten Cellars.

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