If you were a real estate outsider attending Compass’ “Impact Day” at the company’s swanky Houston office in River Oaks — arguably the Bayou City’s poshest neighborhood — you wouldn’t think this is a real estate brokerage facing a struggle.
Despite the firm’s financial woes and news of agents heading for the exits on almost a weekly basis, the Houston edition of Compass’ Impact Day — an event the company holds at all its offices around the country where top executives fly in to inspire the rank-and-file agents — was bustling and decidedly upbeat.
The theme of the Houston event was to finish 2022 strong.
Agents from all five of Compass’ Houston offices, some of whom in company t-shirts, mingled with each other over a Tex-Mex lunch on Sept. 14 at 4200 Westheimer Road, which is also home to commercial real estate giant JLL’s Houston headquarters.
The company’s Houston mothership exudes the vibe of a well-funded tech start-up rather than a traditional real estate brokerage office. Think coworking desks, common areas, privacy booths for calls, offices for top producers with glass doors and great city views, well-appointed conference rooms with huge flat-screen televisions, fixtures and desks all in a sleek matte black — modern office minimalism with all the amenities.
Compass’ president of national brokerage operations, Neda Navab, flew in from New York and posed for pictures with agents and chatted with them one-on-one. Compass’ remaining founding Houston agents were engaging with newer brokers in the atmosphere of a cocktail party.
After all the networking and noshing was done, a panel made up four of Compass Houston’s top producing agents — Caroline Bean, Mike Mahlstedt, Courtney Robertson and Caroline Schlemmer — gave essentially a pep talk to the company’s agents heading into the fourth quarter.
Compass’ Houston all-stars emphasized that the post-pandemic real estate market was going to be different and that agents would have to negotiate more with sellers than buyers in the coming months — and when it came to closing deals, there was lots of talk about not burning bridges with agents from other brokerages on the other side of listings.
The consensus about the Houston market was that agents should prepare for a descent from the stratospheric heights, but needn’t brace for a crash. The subtext of all the upbeat talk was that Compass was “adjusting” to a “shifting market” and saw a path to finish 2022 strong.