The Notorious Interview: Bill Fowler, Compass

A different Interview episode than normal, I speak with Bill Fowler, Sr. Director of Industry Relations for Compass, the tech-brokerage who has been making all kinds of waves in recent years.

Normally, I like to use the Interview to introduce people and companies that most of you don’t know about, who are doing interesting things or have interesting perspectives on real estate. In this case, I wanted to speak to Bill about Compass’s recent open letter to Bright MLS for its new policy restricting Coming Soon. The letter specifically threatened litigation, so it has become big news in industry circles.

We discuss, we debate, I ask questions, Bill answers, and it appears that Compass’s position might not be what one might think.

Because of the public interest on this topic, I have chosen to make this Interview publicly available to everyone.

Conversation with Bill Fowler, Compass

Bio of Bill Fowler, from

Bill Fowler has 17 years inside the real estate technology community and has found his dream job as Senior Director of Industry Relations at Compass. He’s worn many hats, from MLS software to industry consultant and Director at Zillow. Now he’s managing the key relationships that drive business for one of the most visible and fast-moving brands in real estate.

About Compass:

Compass is building the first modern real estate platform, pairing the industry’s top talent with technology to make the search and sell experience intelligent and seamless.

A brokerage of unparalleled agents
As an innovative residential real estate firm, we empower our agents so they have more time for advising their clients. With the solutions-driven mindset of a startup and the sophistication of a luxury brand, Compass is the future of real estate.

A tech company reinventing the space
To lead the industry requires the smartest tools built by the brightest minds across engineering, design, and strategy. Through our proprietary platform, Compass is changing how agents and clients navigate the process of finding or selling a home.


Share & Print

Picture of Rob Hahn

Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

Get NotoriousROB in your Inbox

5 thoughts on “The Notorious Interview: Bill Fowler, Compass”

  1. These guys from the MLS created a system that is a complete monopoly. Also this person Bill Fowler from Compass is supporting this system. He said that he dose not want to see listing outside from the MLS. That means he wants to have a monopoly on the listing and control the listing in a way he feels like. I want to remind all those who work in this monopoly system that you belong to a communist country. It is very clear that real estate brokerages are liars. The say they want to give the consumer the best service. These brokers wish the could take the time back and have a printed MLS book. They don’t care on servicing the consumer. All they care is to double end the transaction cause this is how they make more money.I just hope that this commission lawsuit against those brokers will prevail and put them back into the holes they belong.

  2. I’m a practitioner. The industry needs to differentiate between Coming Soon and Off-MLS sales.

    Coming Soon (A) is the latest trendy marketing idea, and Off-MLS sales (B) are an unethical way for listing agents to double-end commissions.

    NAR is trying to prevent (B) by over-regulating (A) without recognizing that they are two different things.

    What’s the answer?

    A realtor association can’t really stop the double-ended deals. If they try, then agents just won’t report them.

    When you think about it, it’s insane that listing agents upload their Off-MLS deals onto the MLS after the fact. It’s like it’s a badge of honor. They see every other agent doing it – including most top producers – and they want the attention too, without ever considering the ramifications. They are admitting that they didn’t share their listing with all other agents (as they agreed to when joining the MLS) and they leave a trail of evidence to follow in case a class-action suit is filed.

    If over-regulating A is the only way to prevent B, then let’s do this. Require that all listings are uploaded to the MLS within 24 hours, and add these required questions:

    1. What day/time do showings begin?

    2. What day/time will you be accepting an offer?

    It puts everyone on notice – buyers, sellers, and agents – on what to expect, and each party can respond accordingly. Because smart buyers will wait until the last minute to submit their best offer so they don’t get played, it would hopefully lead to a designated time and place where all parties could meet up to see who won. Once we get to that point, let’s just do a live auction to determine the winner fair and square.

    If the listing agent doesn’t play by their own timeframes they submitted to the MLS and instead makes a deal quicker, then hit them with the $5,000 fine. Don’t be surprised if an occasional agent who doesn’t care about his reputation takes a double-ended commission and happily pays the $5,000 fee (it’s not enough to stop it).

    It would be prudent if the industry would also embark on a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to inform agents of how the system works, and why it is beneficial to all. Agents don’t know!

    If we wanted to clean house, then we could also address the refreshing of listings (re-inputting listings every 30-60 days to trick new buyers who aren’t paying attention and jump quickly and pay too much), the lying about the square footage, and why we don’t require 15-25 quality photos plus a video tour. What are the number of photos required in San Diego’s MLS today? One photo. Thanks a lot.

    • The main question is: Why the listing agent even need to consider to share the commission with a buyer agent even if listing is posted on the MLS? Do you think it is fair for the listing agent who worked for months until wining a listing and to give some commission to the buyer agent? What exactly the buyer agent really do anymore? Writing the offer? Really negotiating for the buyer? Knows the details on the property better the listing agent?

      I will tell you that the buyer agent dose nothing really special to earn half of the the commission.The real issue here is that NAR wants to keep flooding the industry with millions of agents who basically 90% from them DO NOT MAKE MONEY! but will continue to pay dues and this is where the money is for the brokers. Real estate brokers DO NOT make money of commissions, they make money from agents dues.This is the issue here.
      The industry should let the hard working listing agents who worked hard to win a listing a time frame of 21 days to double end the transaction.Why not? We all want to make more money. Then if after 21 days the property did not sell, only then it should be posted all over on the 3rd party portals that the consumer loves so much and not only on the MLS.

Comments are closed.

The Future of Brokerage Paper

Fill out the form below to download the document