Coldwell Banker Schmidt Acquires Third Realty Firm
GRAND RAPIDS — Just two weeks after announcing its acquisition of AJS Realty of Grand Rapids and Woodland Realty of Holland, Traverse City-based Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors expanded once again, this time with the purchase of Westdale Realty Co. of Grand Rapids.
The latest acquisition, announced earlier this month, immediately elevated Coldwell Banker Schmidt to the position of second largest realty company in Michigan. Detroit-based Real Estate One is the largest in the state.
Westdale adds to Coldwell Banker Schmidt some 220 agents and a dozen offices in Grand Rapids, Newaygo, Sparta, Greenville, Belding, Holland, Fennville, Rockford and Wyoming.
The combined companies have more than 40 offices and 800 sales agents that service higher-end residential markets in metro Grand Rapids, along the lakeshore, and in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Based on last year’s sales figures, Realtor Magazine estimates the blended companies would have a combined sales volume of about $1.8 billion.
AJS Realty, the three Coldwell Banker Schmidt offices in Grand Rapids, and the 12 Westdale offices now work together under the banner of Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt Realtors. Woodland Realty is now part of Coldwell Banker Woodland-Schmidt Realtors. Coldwell Banker Schmidt’s 27 offices in Newaygo and Oceana counties, as well as those in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, remain known as Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors. All of the firms fall under the corporate umbrella of Schmidt Real Estate, which is owned by CEO Ken Schmidt and President Mike Schmidt.
Cynthia Geldhof, manager of Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, said Westdale agents benefit from Coldwell Banker Schmidt’s national recognition and its presence in other markets.
“It gives us an opportunity to have name recognition throughout the country,” she said.
Ken Schmidt said the purchases of Westdale, AJS and Woodland Realty give Coldwell Banker Schmidt “the critical mass to raise the bar in customer service” and give its agents throughout the region access to the latest technology and training tools.
Mike Schmidt indicated that his company had been talking individually to Westdale, AJS and Woodland for years about the possibility of joining forces. None of the parties involved were privy to one another’s negotiations, he noted. The fact that Westdale hitched on two weeks after AJS and Woodland “was just the way it happened,” he said.
“We had an interest in doing an acquisition of all those companies and it was just, frankly, odd how it all happened at once, but it has turned into a real powerful, positive thing,” Mike Schmidt said. He said Westdale’s long tradition in the residential market in Grand Rapids made it an attractive partner.
“At one point Westdale was ‘the’ company in Grand Rapids, and we think there’s a lot of value to the sales associates that are still involved in the company, and along with the company’s history, that allows us to reposition ourselves in the market.”
Why is Coldwell Banker Schmidt in what appears to be a ramped-up acquisition mode of late?
Schmidt said the company has always aggressively pursued acquisitions and that its history bears that out. The reasoning, he said, is that the bigger the platform the company has, the better its associates can perform.
“We’re always looking for good, quality acquisitions that position us where we want to be in the market, but we’re busy with what we have to work on right now,” he added.
Parent company Schmidt Real Estate isn’t necessarily looking to surpass Real Estate One as the largest residential real estate company in the state.
“Honestly, our goal is just to provide the best service for our clients,” Schmidt commented. “It really does not have to do with size — which is a little bit odd considering we’ve grown the way we have — but size hasn’t been the goal.”