Realty Firms Team Expand Market Reach
GRAND RAPIDS — AJS Realty of Grand Rapids and Woodland Realty of Holland were just acquired by one of the state’s largest real estate brokerages — Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors of Traverse City, which has 40 offices throughout northern and western Michigan that specialize in high-end residential and vacation/second home properties.
Last week, the AJS office on
Coldwell Banker Schmidt’s remaining 27 offices in Newaygo and Oceana counties, Northern Michigan and the
Prior to the merger, AJS had a sales staff of about 36 and
Jeff Schreur, CEO of AJS Realty, Jack Bouman, CEO of Woodland Realty, and Ken Schmidt, CEO of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors, have known one another for years. Schreur said Coldwell Banker Schmidt originally broached the subject of a potential merger with AJS and
Schreur said each company brings to the table attributes that make the combined company stronger. In his estimation, one of the immediate benefits to consumers will be greater exposure for people selling properties and greater choices for those looking to buy property.
The Schmidt organization had been very strong from Traverse City down the shoreline, Schreur said, and Woodland Realty had developed a great reputation along the shoreline, from the Saugatuck-Holland area northward to Muskegon and up to Ludington.
“Coldwell Banker Schmidt had three offices in
Coldwell Banker Schmidt is a fourth-generation, family-owned company. Ken Schmidt said the merger was advantageous because it was “with two strong, well-established companies” with management teams that were interested in staying in place.
“I don’t think anybody in our industry could have more respect for the owners and the leaders of those two companies,” Schmidt said. “AJS’s and
Schmidt said the high level of leadership in both companies is reflected in the fact that AJS’s Pat Vredevoogd, who is a partner in the firm, is a former president of the Michigan Association of Realtors and incoming president of the National Association of Realtors, a post she’ll take over in two months. Similarly, Woodland Realty partner Jeff Young is current treasurer of the Michigan Association of Realtors and will be president elect of that organization next year.
“We just couldn’t have higher regard for their ownership, leadership, quality of their sales associates, and their per-person productivity,” Schmidt added. “The resources they have will certainly complement and improve what we have.”
According to Schreur, all three companies were operating very well but were convinced they could operate better combined. Their blending brings a wealth of additional resources to both AJS and Woodland Realty, he said.
“Coldwell Banker has been a leader in the use of technology for many years, so this has taken our technology to a whole other level,” Schreur remarked. “The way we can serve our clients and customers now with all the technological advantages is fabulous. It gives us a lot of access to collateral material that only a large organization can provide. It gives us a lot of buying power for advertising, too. It’s just a real exciting move because we are better able to serve our clients and customers, and it’s good for our sales associates.”
Those are just the kinds of resources that will help Woodland Realty maintain its leadership in its markets, Bouman said.
“This is the best move to enable us to continue to thrive and to offer consumers in the area the greatest selection of properties and the best service in marketing and selling their properties. It gives us great stability as we move forward.”
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s state profile for
Home price appreciation in
Those percentages don’t dampen Schreur’s enthusiasm for what’s ahead.
“We have had five years of increased sales in a row,” he pointed out. “At the end of this year, it’s still going to be the third-highest resale of existing homes ever on a national basis. We also have historically low interest rates going. People ride through these ups and downs, but the big picture is still a strong, strong real estate market.”