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Compass Has Attracted $20M In Equity Investment From Its Own Brokers' Commissions

90 Fifth Ave. in Lower Manhattan, N.Y.

Compass Real Estate has seen sizable investment from its own employees thanks to a year-old program.

Compass has offered its brokers the option of trading in their commissions for stock in the company for the past year as a way of attracting and retaining talent, The Real Deal reports. The Agent Equity Program, as it is called, gives brokers $1.30 worth of stock for each dollar of the commissions' cash value.

At least 1,149 agents have exchanged at least part of their commissions since the program launched in 2017, TRD reports, receiving a total of over $20M in equity in exchange. At least 10 brokers gave up 100% of their commissions in exchange for stock, and at least 63 reportedly traded at least half of theirs.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told TRD that the program was not borne out of any need for capital, and was solely about retaining talent through equity in a similar fashion to many accounting and law firms. The program was revealed in October when the head of Pacific Union International touted it to convince brokers to stay after Compass purchased the company.

The amount of stock each dollar in commission can buy has declined rapidly as Compass' valuation has skyrocketed. When SoftBank invested $450M in the brokerage earlier this year, taking its value over $2.2B, it purchased shares at $118.57 each. 

Compass is now valued at $4.4B, according to TRD, far outstripping competitors like Redfin in price per share. The dizzying rise is similar to WeWork, another New York-based startup that has seen major investment from SoftBank. Compass' headquarters are at 90 Fifth Ave. in Lower Manhattan.