Two of the Baltimore area's best-known residential real estate brokerages, Prudential Preferred Properties and Meredith Real Estate/Better Homes and Gardens, are joining forces to become one of the area's largest agencies.
Sales associates at both companies were notified in surprise announcements yesterday that Prudential is acquiring Meredith Real Estate for an undisclosed sum effective Tuesday. All Meredith associates will become part of the Prudential organization, and the two companies will operate under the Prudential Preferred Properties name.
The sale is a significant acquisition for the Prudential franchise, which had 2,800 associates in 70 offices from Philadelphia to northern Virginia, including 750 associates in 15 offices in the Baltimore area, before buying Meredith.
Meredith had 225 associates in five offices, two of which will be eliminated as a result of the merger. Its acquisition will give Prudential's Baltimore division close to 1,000 associates in 18 offices, making it one of the largest real estate agencies in the Baltimore area.
Long & Foster Realtors and O'Conor Piper & Flynn Realtors are recognized as the two largest in the state, with more than 1,200 associates each, but not all of them are in the Baltimore area. Grempler Realty Inc. has more than 1,100 agents, and Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate has about 850, according to published reports.
The acquisition of Meredith also will give Prudential a much stronger presence in Baltimore, since Meredith has an active Roland Park office and Prudential had no offices in the city.
Carole Greenwald-Ryan, president of Prudential's Baltimore division and one of five owners of Prudential Preferred Properties, could not be reached for comment.
Meredith co-owners Michael Yerman and Paul Herrmann will join Prudential but will not have any ownership interest, Mr. Yerman said. He said he will become vice president in charge of new homes and condominiums and that Mr. Herrmann will also be a vice president and sales manager of the Roland Park office, with other administrative duties as well.
The enlarged company no longer will be affiliated with the Better Homes and Gardens network, a rival of Prudential's.
"As we go into 1991, this allows us to have a larger market for our company and our sales associates, and I think that's very important," Mr. Yerman said. "The more we looked at it, the more we thought it made sense."
Prudential Preferred Properties was formed in 1989 as a result of Prudential's acquisition of the former "Capitol region" of Merrill Lynch Realty. It now operates as a limited partnership and independent franchise linked with the Prudential Real Estate Affiliates Nationwide real estate network, which has more than 25,000 sales associates in 1,500 sales offices throughout the United States and Canada.
Meredith Real Estate grew out of Magill Yerman and Co./Better Homes and Gardens, founded in 1984. Mr. Yerman and Mr. Herrmann have worked together for the past several years and became co-owners in March 1989.
Mr. Yerman said the sale to Prudential has been in the works for only five or six weeks. He said it came about because Meredith and Prudential were "looking at office space together" in the same building in the Perry Hall area and the owners began discussing working together in a more formal way.
"We were two medium-sized companies in the Baltimore market," he said. "It was a mutual decision. We both thought we ought to investigate the idea of bringing our businesses together."
The paperwork was signed Thursday. Starting next week, all Meredith signs will be replaced by Prudential signs, and about 500 properties listed for sale with Meredith will become Prudential listings, although the sales associates will not change.
As part of the larger Prudential network, which bills itself as the sixth-largest real estate concern in the country, Meredith associates will benefit from Prudential's name recognition as well as educational and training programs and benefit programs they did not have before, Mr. Yerman said. In turn, he said, Prudential will gain a stronger foothold in the Baltimore market, more local management and expertise, and a solid new base of sales associates.