Compass is a licensed American real-estate broker incorporating online real estate technology as a marketing medium. The company makes money via sales commissions (collected whenever a sale is facilitated or tenants are found for a rental property) and bridge loans (a service allowing the seller to purchase a home before the revenue from the sale of their previous home is available).
Compass is a licensed American real-estate broker incorporating online real estate technology as a marketing medium.
The company began as Urban Compass in 2012 and was founded by entrepreneurs Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon – a former engineer at Twitter.
In the early days of Compass, users could schedule online appointments with salaried real estate brokers after searching listings on the company desktop or mobile app.
In 2014, the company pivoted from employing brokers full-time to collecting a commission from contracted (but independent) brokers.
Originally focused on the rental market, Compass now specializes in luxury, high-margin homes in affluent areas. After its IPO on the NYSE in 2021 the company passed the ten billion market capitalization.
- Simplifying Real Estate Transactions: Compass aims to simplify the often complex and paper-driven real estate transaction process by providing an all-digital, end-to-end platform. This platform empowers real estate agents to deliver exceptional service to both sellers and buyers.
- Agent-Centric Approach: Compass recognizes the value of real estate agents and seeks to empower them rather than replace them. The platform provides tools and resources to help agents streamline workflows and enhance their effectiveness in facilitating transactions.
- Real Estate Agents: Compass primarily serves real estate agents who use its platform to streamline their work, attract and retain clients, and provide better service to buyers and sellers.
- Buyers and Sellers: The ultimate beneficiaries of Compass’s services are buyers and sellers in the real estate market. The platform’s goal is to make the experience of buying or selling a home simple and pleasant for everyone.
- Online Platform: Compass operates primarily through its online platform, which is accessible via desktop and mobile devices. This platform enables real estate agents to access tools and resources for assisting clients and managing transactions.
- Agent Empowerment: Compass’s marketing strategy revolves around empowering real estate agents. By providing agents with tools, training, and resources, the company aims to attract more agents to its platform.
- Agent Reputation: As more agents use Compass and deliver exceptional service to clients, the platform gains a positive reputation, which, in turn, attracts more clients and agents.
- Investment in Technology: Compass invests in the development of its technological platform to provide increasingly empowering tools for agents. This commitment to technology innovation helps attract tech-savvy agents and clients.
- Professional Development Resources: Compass offers a range of curated learning resources to real estate agents, covering topics such as marketing, financial planning, and comparative market analysis (CMA) reporting. These resources are designed to help agents grow their businesses and provide better service to clients.
Analyzing Compass strategy
As the company highlighted in its financial prospectus:
“we envision a world where the experience of selling or buying a home is simple and pleasant for everyone. Our strategy is to replace today’s complex, paper-driven, antiquated workflow with a seamless, all-digital, end-to-end platform that empowers real estate agents to deliver an exceptional experience to every seller and buyer. Our agent-centric platform is at the heart of our mission to help everyone find their place in the world.”
The company executes that by providing an “end-to-end platform that empowers our residential real estate agents to deliver exceptional service to seller and buyer clients.”
Understanding the Compass value proposition
Differently from other PropTech companies, Compass doesn’t try to remove the human from the loop.
Instead, it tries to empower the agent to facilitate the transactions’ closing. In fact, Compass highlights how most buyers still want to deal with agents.
Understanding the Compass marketing flywheel
Compass revenue generation
Like many real estate brokers, Compass makes money from commissions and referral fees.
Following is a more detailed look at each revenue stream.
The bulk of Compass revenue generation comes from sales commissions. These are collected whenever a sale is facilitated or tenants are found for a rental property.
These fees are split between Compass and the real estate agent. The exact nature of the split is unclear, but it might be assumed that more experienced agents can command a higher share of the commission.
The company also seeks to maximize commission fees by focusing exclusively on higher-end properties.
Sellers can also opt to use the Compass concierge service which increases the fee the company can charge.
Through the Compass Private Exclusives facility, homes are privately listed before they hit the market.
This creates hype and urgency among buyers which in turn increases the odds of a successful sale.
It also allows property owners to get an idea of how much their home is worth using a host of marketing insights.
Lastly, the company endeavors to increase revenue by making its platform attractive to agents. To that end, Compass offers a range of curated learning resources to help real estate entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
In 2019, Compass began to offer a bride loan service in conjunction with mortgage partners Freedom Mortgage and Better Mortgage.
Essentially, the service allows the seller to purchase a home before the revenue from the sale of their previous home is available.
It should be noted that Compass cannot collect revenue on loan interest because it does not issue the loans. Having said that, it does receive a referral fee from the aforementioned partners for sending business their way.
In addition to referral fees, the company also charges for title and escrow-related services.
- Compass is an American property technology company founded by Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon. The company has a focus on providing services for real estate buyers and sellers in lucrative, high-margin markets.
- Compass collects a sales commission for each property sold and shares it with the agent. Since these professionals are independent contractors, Compass offers professional development resources around marketing and finance to name a couple.
- Compass also earns money through bridging loan referral fees, which are underwritten by partnering lenders.
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