Humor and real estate go together like Hans and Steve Wydler. The co-owners of Wydler Brothers of Compass take their business seriously, but not themselves. As Hans puts it, “I don’t take Steve seriously, and Steve doesn’t take me seriously.”
From the start of their business partnership 17 years ago, their advertising has stood out for its witty, “brotherly banter” approach, including their original campaign tagline, “Oh Brother.” Off-camera, they take their work to heart. They are focused on providing their clients with sound business advice, representing their interests with the highest level of professionalism, intelligence, and integrity in the industry.
Their hard work and creativity have paid off. All told, the team has sold well over $2 billion in volume over the years. In 2019 alone, Wydler Brothers sold $191 million, making them the number one highest producing large team in Maryland (2020 Real Trends), and top three in the DMV. One of Hans’ career highlights was when Inman recognized Wydler Brothers as being the most innovative real estate team in America. “That is something we’re very proud of,” Hans beams. “We love being on the cutting edge of new technologies and developing best practices to better serve our clients.”
Celebrating 20 years in the business, Hans loves helping others. “Our real value is in helping people think through really important life decisions. Life doesn’t always go as planned … and can be complex and challenging. We really try to be there for our clients each step of the way, with honest and solid business advice. When we can help them, they are immensely grateful. Ultimately, this is what makes my job truly rewarding.”
Hans also enjoys training and mentoring fellow agents, taking a keen interest in helping them succeed and grow. “It is really rewarding to see someone new to the business learn it, love it, and then blossom.” Hans notes with pride that many of his current and former teammates are recognized as some of the best agents in the region.
First Yale, Then Harvard — Always a Serial Entrepreneur
Growing up in a New York City apartment with both parents working from home, Hans and Steve were the opposite of latchkey kids. Their father was an attorney and their mom started an international sales and marketing business selling flower pots. At her peak, their mother exceeded $10 million in sales, all from the dining room turned office she shared with their father. The entrepreneurial spirit was well ingrained in the Wydler household.
Hans received his undergraduate degree from Yale and a master’s degree from Harvard Business School. Initially, he focused on a career in media. Following business school, he worked with the then-nascent “digital” startup division of The Washington Post. In 1996, he moved on to help run other internet startups, including Washington’s first grocery delivery business and an online picture framing business. When the dot.com crash came in 1998, his career began pulling him in other directions. However, he says, “My wife and I love the D.C. area, so I had to figure out a new career path that would allow me to stay.” Enter real estate.
Hans thought he’d become a real estate developer. But once he started going through the process, spending time with agents in the residential and commercial side looking for his first investment property, he realized he’d be much better suited as a broker. “I’m a natural connector and I like helping people,” he confirmed.
Hans was rookie of the year, and eventually, Steve joined him. Over the next decade, the team grew to about 30 people and, at the time, was recognized as the 25th highest producing team in the United States (Real Trends and Wall Street Journal).
About five years ago, Hans and Steve launched their own brokerage, which grew to over $400 million in production with about 70 agents and employees. Then, in 2018, the brothers sold their brokerage to Compass. At first, it was an emotional decision, as the brokerage was the culmination of 15 years of hard work. In hindsight, they recognized it was a perfect partnership.
Philosophically, Compass and the Wydler Brothers are aligned in their vision and approach with where the industry is heading. “Together, we can achieve our goals so much faster,” Hans says, adding, “Not every merger works out, but this has been a really happy combination. The way Compass takes care of its people, recognizes the value of technology, and protects its brand is aligned with how we have always done things at Wydler Brothers.”
Real Family Dynamics
Hans notes that while family businesses can be awesome, they can also be challenging. So what is it really like working with his brother? “We don’t always agree but we do trust each other. We have been partners for a long time and have been brothers even longer. We have had our challenges but we’ve always been able to get through them and certainly come out stronger and in a better place.”
Hans and his wife, Ginny, recently became empty-nesters, as their two children are both currently in college. “Personally, I’m looking forward to traveling more with my wife in the coming years. Our favorite trips usually involve hiking, biking, and being with friends and family.”
SIDEBAR: SIDE HUSTLES
In addition to helping families buy and sell real estate, Hans and Steve have maintained their interest in high tech start-ups. They have co-founded and/or served as angel investors and advisors to several companies in the real estate tech space. One of the companies they helped co-found, Five Street, was sold to Move, Inc., in 2013. Hans is currently working on his latest venture called Komp, and just closed a friends and family round. Hans wouldn’t go into too many details, but is clearly excited about the opportunity.