Is Bill Fandel on to something?
In September, the former Telluride Sotheby’s broker founded new real estate company Compass Telluride. The move brings to the box canyon the innovative, tech-centric brand of Compass, a New York-based firm that describes itself as a real estate technology company with a single platform that will support the entire home buying and selling process.
Compass’ tech-heavy business model has attracted a staggering amount of venture capital from heavy hitters like Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Softbank and Wellington Management. Earlier this year, for example, the company, now valued at $4.4 billion, raised $400 million in a single round with investors. Compass’ rise can safely be described as meteoric. The 6-year-old enterprise was ranked the sixth largest real estate company in the country by Real Trends and recently purchased Pacific Union International, the luxury real estate brokerage that had held the No. 5 spot.
“It’s a pretty exciting venture ... I feel like I jumped on a fast-moving train,” Fandel said, explaining that part of his attraction to Compass was the impact the company is having on the entire real estate sector. “Our industry as a whole is being disrupted in a very dramatic fashion and that’s to the benefit of the consumer. It’s a great reshuffling of a business that remained static for a number of decades.”
Fandel likens what Compass is doing nowadays to the seismic changes that technology brought to the travel industry.
“I think what we are really seeing is a reshaping of the industry because the consumer demands it,” he said. “The consumer is so different now … they’re more self-reliant. What they want is data in real time and they want to have resources that allow them to make decisions and look at things across multiple fronts. I think we do that.”
Aside from the tech stuff, Fandel said that the people at Compass also attracted him.
“What was intriguing was their leadership,” he said. “They have an incredibly talented and pedigreed founding team that has a decidedly business-oriented take on an industry that is often highly fragmented.”
Fandel’s admiration for Compass didn’t go unrequited. About a year ago, Compass reached out to him and both parties recognized the “big opportunity.”
“They felt that it was an opportunistic time to launch an office here because the consumer in Telluride, the demographic of buyers, was particularly well aligned with their solutions. Young, dynamic, data driven, experiential in their interests,” he said.
Fandel added that association with Compass means that not only can he offer resources to clients, but he can also draw on resources himself.
“For example, on the technology front, I have 250 software engineers in New York working to create essentially a road of information for clients with the most comprehensive data available, and also an integrated platform where over time we’ll be able to offer a number of services like mortgages and title insurance,” he said.
Another attraction? Fandel said he is looking forward to forging new connections with other Compass brokers.
“One of the big things I have been tasked with, and one of the conditions I negotiated, is that I am now rebuilding,” Fandel said. “I had created a very large group within Sotheby’s, a sort of top agents’ group, and I have been funded within Compass to build a network of the top agents in Compass nationwide. It’s an exciting time. If you think about it, by creating this network, we can refer business to each other. … We can provide our shared clientele with insights and services across multiple markets. That’s a fun thing for me. I love that.
“For me, it’s not really a task, it’s an inspired initiative.”
Fandel said he plans to remain in his long-time office space in the Nugget Building. He has also made his first hire: Ana Bowling, who is a managing director at event planning company Soiree Telluride and who serves on the boards of a number of local nonprofits, including One to One Mentoring and the San Miguel Resource Center.
“Ana’s a fantastic hire. We just really connected,” Fandel said. “At the time, I didn’t need to hire her, but she was too good not to hire. We have a great dynamic.”
For her part, Bowling, broker associate and director of operations with Compass Telluride, said of her new gig: “I was attracted to working with Bill because of his creative thought process, attention to marketing details, long-standing relationships with his clients and peers within the luxury real estate industry and his consistent, high level of accomplishments throughout his lengthy career.”
As Fandel settles into his new role, he reflected on one final aspect of Compass that he said he really admires: the firm’s commitment to its community of agents.
“Companies are born of guiding principles by a leader and I think a lot of this streams down from Compass cofounder Robert Reffkin, who is really an amazing person,” Fandel explained. “Within Compass, the agent is the client, not the owner, not the franchise, so the things that are important to the agent, are important to them. They have also taken great pains to create a very vibrant community.”