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Bay Area team bolts Compass for Side

OWN Marin, which sells luxury homes in Marin County, expressed desire for their own branding.

Another group of California agents has left Compass for Side, this time in the luxury, coastal environs of Marin County.

OWN Marin, a veteran team of five agents, announced last week that they switched from the New York-headquartered brokerage to the San Francisco-based outfit.

Created in 2004 by Barr Haney and Whitney Potter, OWN Marin generated $381 million in 2020 sales volume, the agent team reported, on 153 deal sides, meaning that the median home in which they represented seller or buyer was priced at $2.8 million.

“Marin County has always been a protected and insulated market,” Haney said of an area known for beaches, redwoods, and postcard-style scenery.

OWN Marin’s departure is not exactly an existential threat to Compass. The brokerage, which declined comment, has hundreds of agents in Marin County – which lies just north of San Francisco County – and is the no. 1 Bay Area brokerage by sales volume.

But it highlights a type of agent team that grew dissatisfied with the fast growing, SoftBank-backed brokerage, which became a publicly traded company in April.

Haney and Potter were originally part of Morgan Lane, a boutique brokerage in Marin. Morgan Lane was acquired by Pacific Union, and just when Haney and Potter were getting used to putting “Pacific Union” on their “for sale” signs, Pacific Union was bought by Compass, in a blockbuster transaction announced in August 2018.

Agents under the purchase were forced to re-brand themselves as Compass, and Haney chafed at “doing co-branding with a big-box brokerage, instead of doing our own thing.”

Side, on the other hand, is a “white-label” brokerage, meaning that OWN Marin markets itself as the brokerage with Side in the legal and administrative background. Side has in the past recruited agents from Compass who seek to create their own brands including Kofi Nartey in Beverly Hills, and Dana Olmes from Hidden Hills.

Side’s business model includes taking a uniform 10 percent split from each commission its agents earn. While the brokerage provides tech and sales processing materials, it does not have the full services of Compass. Namely, Haney acknowledged that his team must pay its own lease for office space.

Where Compass and Side are alike is a prowess in venture capital fundraising. Formed in 2013, Compass went public after raising more than $1.5 billion in VC cash.

Side, meanwhile, announced a $150 million fundraise in March, claiming that its latest cash infusion has propelled the four-year-old brokerage to a $1 billion valuation.

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