Compass Finding Its Way in Suburban Real Estate, Aided by Two Local Agents
You’ve seen the signs this spring. Slate grey with crisp white type, looking less like a notice of something for sale than of a service offered, they represent Compass. And at the bottom of those Compass signs displayed around the Wallingford-Swarthmore area you will likely see the name of Heidi Oberdiek Foggo or Erica Kaufman, both veteran real estate agents.
These two longtime friends and associates both recently joined the team at Compass, a real estate firm that describes itself as “the first modern real estate platform” — both a brokerage and a technology company. They are among more than 200 real estate agents to sign on with Compass within its first year in the Philadelphia market. The hub of the organization is an 11,000 square foot “collaboration center” in Ardmore, which is the locus of technology experts and marketing professionals, as well as of more traditional real estate office appurtenances such as closing officers and settlement tables.
Foggo and Kaufman have worked together for almost 15 years, beginning at the same time at Baird & Bird Realtors in Media. “We were trained by Barbara and Betsy Bird, and still implement the high level of client service and integrity in our practices that was so important to them and that brokerage,” Heidi said. Later, the two were working together at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Media when Compass emerged as a compelling alternative.
“We were both impressed with Compass, for some similar and some different reasons,” Erica said. “We discussed our move together, but at the end of the day, had to make the decision on our own. BHHS is a great company and Cathy Linck was a great manager, so it wasn’t easy to break the news.”
Both Foggo and Kaufman describe Compass as a new type of organization, geared to a new generation of homebuyers as well as the clients they have served in years past. “Millennials are into brevity and efficiency. They don’t want to see 25 homes for sale, they want to see a few homes that represent the priorities that we help them identify,” Heidi says. “Compass’s proprietary search engine allows buyers to search using more specific criteria than the Multiple Listing Service, and it also captures listings that will be going on the MLS as ‘Coming Soon’ even before they hit the MLS or Zillow. This allows Compass agents to alert buyers of listings immediately, allowing buyers time to position themselves to make a strong offer.”
Erica cited Compass’s networking tool as a big advantage for clients whose homes she lists for sale. “This technology allows me as a listing agent to search for similarly shown properties of the home I am putting on the market, to see which agents showed these homes to potential buyers. I can then reach out to these agents to alert them to my new listing which may be a better fit for their client. This benefits the seller by creating an avenue for real buyers looking for a specific style of home, and helps our cooperating brokers.”
Another benefit Compass listing agents can offer sellers is the firm’s Concierge Program, Heidi said, “The Concierge Program allows sellers to make improvements to their homes in order to maximize the sale price, without paying contractors out of pocket. Compass will front the money without any additional fee, and I can manage the process. This can alleviate a tremendous amount of stress on the seller.”
The principal elements needed for success in their field remain constant, Kaufman and Foggo agree. Real estate agents need to be local experts. It was that expertise that Compass sought out in them and their 200+ Philadelphia–area colleagues who made the move to the new enterprise. Erica said, “I am — and will always be — serving my local community — the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, which is such a special place and which will remain a strong market. But in real estate there is always the opportunity to grow and broaden the areas in which you serve, which I gratefully accept.”
And while technology, market dynamics, and economic trends cause varying conditions in her industry, Heidi said, “I don’t think Compass has changed the way I work with clients. I’ve always given 100% to my clients and put their best interests first. That will never change. It’s exciting for me to be able to offer new programs to my clients and use new tools to help them in the selling and purchasing process.”