The Intersection of Housing and Technology With Inclusive Leadership

Robert Reffkin ’03, founder and CEO of Compass, discusses with Professor Christopher Mayer his optimism about the present and future of the housing market and emphasizes the importance of building a company that focuses on inclusivity.

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The Workplace, Leadership, Social Impact
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Despite the economic downturn and the challenges of the pandemic, Compass founder and CEO, Robert Reffkin ’03, is upbeat about the present and future of the real estate market.

In conversation with Christopher Mayer, the Paul Milstein Professor of Real Estate, Reffkin explains that, apart from New York City, Compass’s residential real estate markets around the country have been booming.

“I’ve never been so busy in my career,” Reffkin said. “Three months ago, we were a COVID-19 victim, but now there’s more demand and more real estate activity because of it.”

Reffkin attributes the uptick to several factors, including statistics that show the average price for a home in the US is at an all-time high and residences are averaging just 20 days on the market, a historic low.

Plus, as many people have been forced to work from home and have faced other limitations due to public health measures, Reffkin notes that some have begun to reconsider their living arrangements.

“Consumers have never been more aware of the inadequacies of their home,” Reffkin said.

Reffkin also discussed how Compass has worked throughout its history to ensure it is an inclusive and diverse workplace, noting that in February the company added a Black board member, Pamela Thomas-Graham, who is also on the board of Peloton.

“The first step in creating a culture of belonging is to say, as a company, ‘I see you and you are welcome,’” he said.

Speaking specifically about opportunities for Black employees, Reffkin emphasized the importance of internships and providing mentors, which can be feeders for full-time positions.

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