In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.
Before Robert Reffkin, there was Ruth Reffkin.
The Compass CEO has often publicly said that his mother, Ruth, was the inspiration behind his starting a real estate company that went on to shake up the industry, even including her name in a letter for the company’s 2021 SEC filing during its public debut.
At Compass’ 2022 annual REtreat, the CEO detailed how Ruth had to struggle to make ends meet after his father left them when he was young — juggling jobs at the Jewish Community Center of the Greater East Bay, as an insurance salesperson and, ultimately, as a real estate agent.
Now, the senior Reffkin is making her own real estate headlines by transitioning from the Wilson-Howard Team to the Garson Team, in what the brokerage is billing as a move to showcase the “power of collaboration between real estate agents with different skill sets and across generations,” Inman has exclusively learned.
The seasoned vet joined Compass in 2013 from Rutenberg Realty NYC, allowing her son to get his feet under him at his new company for a few years first, she told Inman in 2016.
At a point in her career and life when many might slow down, Ruth says she’s pivoting to a team that excites her.
“I’m going to be 78 in a couple of months, and I have in my time, retired three different times,” Ruth told Inman. “And every time I retire, I get old and get bored and I get fat [laughs]. So I have learned that I’m happier and healthier when I have a reason to get up in the morning, especially when that reason involves other people. Real estate is a real people business, and I feel that my clients and my colleagues keep me young and give me excitement.”
In addition to her years of sales experience, Ruth Reffkin’s first-hand experience as an investor purchasing and renovating homes has also been an incredibly useful skill to impart to her clients, Compass noted in a press release sent to Inman.
“I joined the Garson Team recently because it’s a very vibrant and exciting team and really on the cutting edge of what we need to be doing to grow in this industry,” Ms. Reffkin said. “Ryan [Garson] has written a book on social media and agents, so they try to help me come into the modern age with all of that. I feel that together, we can use what I have going for me and what he has going for him and leverage all of this to help my clients even more than ever.”
In 2022, the Garson Team closed $102.39 million in sales volume across 75 transactions at an average price point of $1.37 million.
“In today’s rapidly evolving real estate landscape, innovation and adaptation are essential,” Garson said in a statement. “By welcoming Ruth to our team, we combine the wisdom of a seasoned agent with my tech-first approach, resulting in enhanced client experiences, increased efficiencies, and ultimately, greater success for all involved.”
Over the course of his career, Garson has brokered over $400 million in sales for his team across transactions in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The team leader has differentiated himself with his unique marketing strategies that have been employed in Very Social, “blending his passion for real estate with tech-driven solutions.”
Very Social’s creative team provides social media management, monthly social media audits and consultations, content creation and organic growth and engagement services to clients.
Garson’s tech and social savvy team plus Ruth’s seasoned experience and ability to connect with clients will create the building blocks of a collaboration that will help the team succeed even further in the future, Compass said.
As Ms. Reffkin has watched her son and his career blossom over the last several years, she said she’s proud and impressed with how far Compass has come without losing its culture.
“That’s the hard part — it’s easy to grow, but how you grow is a whole other thing,” she said.
She also noted something that has surprised her over the years is how much her son had “listened to me more than I realized,” and how well those conversations and lessons ultimately translated to Compass.
“Very early on, we had a conversation when he first started talking about starting Compass — because I had been an agent already for quite a few years at that point — and I really explained to him how these things work, and how brokerages work and all that,” Ruth said.
“So right away, I think because of that discussion, Robert then gained an understanding of the fact that the agents are his clients, that he works for them, and not the other way around. I think at a lot of agencies, the CEO gets to feel very important about themselves and they forget that they’re only as good as the people who are working in the company and helping to build it. And Robert has never forgotten that.”
Another memory that his mother shared with Inman was from the early days when Robert just started to recruit for the brokerage and his desire to hire “nice people.”
“I expected him to talk about markets or production levels,” the senior Reffkin said, when she offered to refer some agents she knew to the budding brokerage. “He said something very interesting to me that day — he said, ‘I only really want to hire nice people. I want to hire people who are kind and ethical and nice.’
“So I look at him like, here’s this crazy person,” she continued. “A CEO of a company that starts by hiring nice people? But he meant it. And if you walk around the halls of any Compass office, you can see that’s what we’ve got.”