Real Estate - Residential

Firms Find Benefits In Mergers

By Cece Nunn, posted Feb 23, 2018
The Cheek family operated an Ocean Isle Beach-based residential real estate firm, Resort Brokerage, for nearly two decades years before deciding a merger was in the company’s best interests.
Resort Brokerage recently merged with Keller Williams Realty, and the former Resort Brokerage office at 15 Causeway Drive in Ocean Isle is now part of Keller Williams.
Although the Cheeks hadn’t considered joining a franchise in the past, “we were blown away when we sat down and started discussing the Keller Williams model with Ladd [Gasparovic] and the other principals at the Keller Williams Wilmington Business Center,” said Clifton Cheek, formerly of Resort Brokerage and now the south Brunswick Keller Williams office’s broker in charge.
The merger adds a roster of 20 agents to Keller Williams in Wilmington, and more will likely be added to the Brunswick County office, said Cheek, who is also this year’s president of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors.
Resort Brokerage was founded in 1999 by Larry Cheek, a retired dentist and Clifton Cheek’s father. The company had a total sales volume of $58 million last year.
Nationwide, mergers of residential real estate firms aren’t typical, with a small percentage of Realtors reporting that they were working for firms that had either merged or were bought in the past two years, according to statistics included in the National Association of Realtors Member Profile for 2017. But there have been several in recent years in the Wilmington area and nearby.
Coldwell Banker Chicora, which has been in the Myrtle Beach real estate market for 45 years, announced in March of last year that it was merging with the network made of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage of Greater Wilmington and Coldwell Banker Advantage of Raleigh, Fayetteville and Southern Pines.
That relationship has helped the firm in numerous ways, said Tim Milam, president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. The network has five regions as a result of the merger – Wilmington, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Southern Pines and Myrtle Beach – and that has led to a beneficial referral arrangement, he said.
“It’s enabled our agents to refer back and forth within our own company in these five different regions, make a little extra money and better service the client,” Milam said.
Another advantage is being able to buy things in bulk, he said.
“I’m able to negotiate on a 1,200-agent basis and get lower costs for our agents from a technology standpoint, and that’s very helpful,” he said.
Neighbour Realty & Associates, a firm based in Ogden, became part of Intracoastal Realty last year.
“It seems like every year you see one or two, but I see no reason why there will be any more or any less [this year],” said Jim Wallace, founder and CEO of Wilmington-based Intracoastal Realty.
When it comes to mergers, it’s important that the companies involved are a good fit, Wallace said.
“The only reason companies should ever merge is if they have similar cultures, and that’s not always an easy thing to find,” Wallace said.
Clifton Cheek said that culture was a factor in his firm’s decision.
“The culture, the principals of and values of [Keller Williams] really just hit home with us,” he said. “We realized that this partnership with a company that is much, much greater than us will give us a lot more exposure, a lot more tools, resources, education and things that we’ve been creating ourselves over the years but that they’ve already got there.”
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