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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Big Change: Zimmerman makes move to fast-growing, disruptive real estate firm



Compass likes to make bold moves.

The New York City-based real estate technology company has said it wants to gain 20 percent market share in the top 20 metropolitan markets by 2020. As part of those ambitious plans, in January, it launched its first office in Dallas, scooping up 13 agents from The Collective Residential along with some additional area agents.

Now it’s made a bold move in Fort Worth, with John Zimmerman, the No. 1 producing agent in Fort Worth and No. 2 producing agent in Texas, joining forces with the real estate technology company as it plants its flag here. The company announced the move on Sept. 26.

“I am driven to perform at the highest level for my clients and can easily see the future is with Compass,” said Zimmerman. “They are light years ahead with data and technology that takes the agent and consumer experience to another level.”

Previously affiliated with North Texas real estate juggernaut Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, Zimmerman was the company’s top-producing agent, and served as a driving force as the Dallas-based firm expanded West.

Soon after its market entry, Zimmerman led Briggs to dominate the Fort Worth market with 16 percent of luxury sales, a top three ranking, and 150 agents working out of four offices.

Zimmerman has been Fort Worth’s top-producing real estate agent for the past half-decade, closing more than $125 million annually. He is among the top 75 agents in the U.S. for sales volume, according to REAL Trends.

“We are excited to be entering Fort Worth with a great partner like John Zimmerman. This is an important market in our growth story,” said Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of Compass. “We are thrilled to enter the market with a talented and respected agent who is a leader in the community.”

Zimmerman said his seven-person team – three agents, a marketing person, an office manager and an administrator – will be joining him at Compass, where he will be the founding partner of Compass’ Fort Worth office. Compass will be looking for office space in the area as well, he noted.

“This is a game changer and an opportunity that I could not pass up – to deliver an incomparable experience to my current and future clients,” he said.

Zimmerman’s former firm, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty made its own bold move in 2015 when three high profile Fort Worth firms – Brants, Mira Vista and Bloom – joined the firm bringing Fort Worth a new-yet-familiar face on its real estate landscape and giving the firm about 100 agents in the area.

Founded by Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, Compass operates in 30 regions with more than 90 offices across the United States.

In addition to big cities like New York, Washington, Boston and San Francisco, it has recently been expanding into other markets, including San Diego, Dallas, Fort Worth, Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Austin, Nashville and Houston are expected to come soon.

Compass has been working to disrupt the traditional real estate space, committing the company to reduce the friction associated with selling, buying or renting a property by providing real estate agents with a set of powerful, intuitive tools to increase efficiency and sales volume.

“We really embrace technology,” said Zimmerman. “The people and the way they conduct their business and their overall philosophy, they’ve just thought through all these struggles that agents have.”

Aside from attracting some top flight real estate agents, Compass is also known for attracting talent from other industries, such as the technology and entertainment industries.

The company’s chief creative officer was with Tribeca Enterprises in New York, which worked with the film festival there, and another key executive was formerly with Twitter.

While much of the technology works behind the scenes, it can also be seen in one of the most mundane and traditional marketing tools in the residential real estate arsenal: the “For Sale” sign.

Unlike the traditional rectangle sign, the recently introduced round Compass sign is an interactive “smart” sign that acts as a geo-located digital hub, connecting consumers with agent-curated content through the Compass RE App.

The day after Compass announced that Zimmerman would head up the company’s operations in Fort Worth, the company said it has raised $400 million in a Series F round of funding led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with additional participation from Wellington, IVP and Fidelity.

The $400M Series F round positions Compass to:

• Accelerate its 2020 vision of gaining 20 percent market share in the top 20 cities in the U.S. by 2020

• Continue technology investments: Compass plans to continue launching new products and initiatives, creating one platform for the real estate industry

• Expand internationally

The company is now valued at $4.4 billion. Analysts say this round of investment is likely its last before going public.

In 2018 alone, Compass more than tripled its agent population to more than 7,000 to-date. Compass is on track to hit over $34 billion in sales volume this year, more than doubling the 2017 sales volume of $14.8 billion.

Much of that growth can be attributed to its acquisition of Pacific Union International, a big independent brokerage based in California. Last month, Compass became the No. 1 independent brokerage in California after announcing that acquisition.

“Real estate is the largest asset class in the world, and we are excited to bring Compass technology to international markets,” said Allon in a news release. “Our incredible track record of growth in the U.S. validates our vision and sets us up for the global stage. The support of our investors will strengthen the Compass mission to help everyone find their place in the world by advancing our national and global expansion and continue building our agent productivity platform through technology and innovation.”

Zimmerman said he is looking forward to bringing the Compass brand to Fort Worth.

“I look forward to providing the very best technology and service, to providing the best outcome possible for my clients and raise the bar in the way clients are taken care of in Fort Worth, Texas,” he said.


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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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