January 17, 2023
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Compass expands online luxury real estate platform to SB, Montecito


Alex Kacik

Alex Kacik

A new online platform is poised to shake up the region’s luxury residential real estate market.

New York-based Compass uses in-house software that aims to cut down on brokers’ administrative work and streamline listing updates. The startup recently announced that it is expanding into the Santa Barbara and Montecito markets.

The South Coast is the company’s latest iteration of its frenetic expansion. Since Compass entered California about two months ago, it has hired more than 60 agents. John Nisbet, a 30-year real estate industry veteran and former Coldwell Banker manager, will head the locations in Montecito and Santa Barbara.

“Right now agents go through multiple listing services, DocuSign (documents), county records, school district records, Google Maps and other places and none of them connect with each other,” Nisbet told the Business Times. “Compass puts all that data at the agent’s fingertips in one place, allowing them to be more efficient and effective. It’s really a revolutionary platform, that’s why it’s growing so fast.”

Nisbet said the company will eventually staff offices in Santa Barbara and Montecito with 50 to 100 employees.

Compass was co-founded in 2013 by Ori Allon, the former engineering director of Twitter’s New York office. It has raised $125 million in investor capital.

“The software can be leveraged across multiple platforms and markets, licensed and sold worldwide,” Nisbet said. “It’s like what Amazon was to Walmart and the iPhone was to the Blackberry.”

Yet, the disruptive technology has been met with resistance. The company has been sued several times for allegedly poaching agents and stealing listings. Two suits were settled and one case is ongoing.

Compass has doubled its number of agents over the past year and has more than $1.4 billion in real estate listings.

Office networking

Office Evolution, a Denver-based company that rents out furnished office space, recently expanded to Westlake Village.

The company’s first Southern California location at 30721 Russell Ranch Road features 24 executive offices that range from 110 to 225 square feet, three conference rooms, a kitchen and business lounge.

Office Evolution Westlake Village owner Tom Warekois opted for a business lounge in lieu of more offices to facilitate networking, he said.

“The Office Evolution model provides a great option to the expensive alternatives business owners face in selecting their office arrangements,” said Warekois, a Thousand Oaks native.

Roll out the carpet

Curtis Carpet is moving into the former KnitFit location at 320 W. Carrillo St. in Santa Barbara.

KnitFit, an arts center crafted for social therapy, will operate out of its Solvang location until it finds another Santa Barbara space. Curtis Carpet sold its around 8,000-square-foot location at 614 Olive St. for the smaller but more visible 1,700-square-foot space on Carrillo, according to Rob Adams of Lee & Associates.

Business has been steadily improving for KnitFit owner Debbie Carty since it opened the Santa Barbara location in 2012, but the property needed improvements she couldn’t afford to foot, she said.

Going shopping

Vons and Smart & Final plan to move into two former Santa Barbara Haggen stores.
Vons looks to take over the 2010 Cliff Drive space and Smart & Final secured the 3943 State St. location.

A Delaware bankruptcy court approved the bids for the two stores in December.

Haggen, the Washington-based grocery chain that botched a sprawling expansion that facilitated the Safeway/Albertsons merger, announced buyers for 47 of the 146 stores during a bankruptcy auction in November.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.