Real Estate Firms Merge

December 8, 2006
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Those looking to buy or sell houses with RE/MAX will have a stronger and larger network to work with along the lakeshore, as three offices from Holland, Muskegon and Grand Haven have joined to create one company.

The new RE/MAX Lakeshore is comprised of the former RE/MAX Muskegon, RE/MAX Grand Haven and RE/MAX Vogue Realty in Holland. There will be about 100 agents in the newly formed company and the former locations will stand, said David Wolbert, COO of the new venture and former director of operations for the Holland location.

"It used to be there were definite borders between the cities, and those are fading," he said. "That was one of the reasons for combining."

Other reasons included sharing systems and setting up a larger network to better share information.

Wolbert said that since the announcement, other real estate offices have been calling, and he would not be surprised if the company expands further in the next few weeks.

"We're setting up appointments this week and next week," he said. "That was part of our future goal: to increase the footprint along the lakeshore."

Wolbert said as the three offices are all RE/MAX companies, the transition should be smooth because they are already in the same system. Wolbert said the new company is also open to inviting non-Re/MAX offices to join their company.

"We do have a template that would fit a traditional office, as well," he said. "We would gladly tell them how the RE/MAX system works."

With many real estate offices in the area merging, Wolbert said the issue is an economy of scale, with larger companies being better equipped to provide extended services.

"The larger you are, the more services you can provide at a more competitive price," he said.

The three offices have had a loose partnership for several years, putting out the RE/MAX Coastal Living magazine together to help attract clients from Indiana and Illinois looking in West Michigan for second homes.

"That was the start of what we've come to do now," he said.

Dale Zahn, CEO of West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors, said he's seen more companies merging along the lakeshore in recent years.

"It's something that happens often times naturally because of market conditions and because firms are looking for ways to keep their costs down while providing a high level of professional service for the consumer," he said.

With the evolution of franchise firms and bigger companies, Zahn said, many offices are looking to maintain cost-effective operations.

"Clearly, there was a need that was satisfied by the evolution of the franchise," he said.

Despite the recent mergers, Zahn said, there is still a place in the market for the smaller firms and boutique firms.

"Not everyone in the public wants bigger and views bigger as better."     

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