Seven independent Coldwell Banker real estate agencies have formed an alliance to save money on advertising and to allow each to sell homes more easily over their combined region, from southern Pennsylvania to Northern Virginia.
The seven agencies will share information, mostly listings of homes for sale, and let agents from affiliated brokerages use their offices. They also will pool advertising dollars, marketing their properties under the Coldwell Banker banner and pushing for better rates from newspapers, radio and other media outlets.
The seven agencies include 55 offices and 2,945 agents.
"It seemed like a natural thing to do," said Donald R. Grempler, president of Towson-based Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc., the largest agency in the group.
In recent years, with profit margins shrinking, more and more brokerages in the region have merged, and small agencies have joined national chains. Agents are taking a greater share of commissions, forcing brokers to look for ways to save money, reduce overhead and increase sales.
In addition, the industry is trying to eliminate barriers between markets, especially by creating multiple listing services for the entire state or region.
Mary Bell Grempler, chairman of Coldwell Banker Grempler, said the alliance will allow the agency to reach a vastly larger area, without having to buy or open new offices.
"I couldn't grow Grempler that fast," she said.
Gary Kaukonen, of Coldwell Banker Home Realty Professionals in Anne Arundel County, said the agencies had discussed the arrangement for several years, but the idea received new life when the former Grempler Realty bought Coldwell Banker's eight Baltimore-area offices in September. Sears divested its Coldwell Banker chain last year, and many of the offices were sold off as franchises.
The chain's parent, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc., is based in Mission Viejo, Calif.
While the old Coldwell Banker management in Baltimore was cool to a regional alliance, the new Grempler company endorsed it.
The seven franchisees are:
* Grempler, with 22 offices and 1,400 agents serving the Baltimore metropolitan area.
* Coldwell Banker Yost Realty, with four offices and 110 agents serving southern Pennsylvania.
* Coldwell Banker Best Realty, with one office and 25 agents serving Frederick County.
* Coldwell Banker Home Realty Professionals, with three offices and 110 agents serving Anne Arundel County.
* Coldwell Banker Stevens, Realtors, with 11 offices and 550 agents serving Northern Virginia and Washington.
* Coldwell Banker Nyman Realty, with nine offices and 400 agents serving Prince George's County.
* Coldwell Banker Realty Pros, with five offices and 350 agents serving Montgomery County and Washington.