Baltimore Prudential division sold to Va. franchisee Future of 9 offices in area is unclear

November 07, 1995|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Six months after a corporate restructuring spun Prudential Preferred Properties into three separate realty companies, the Baltimore division is being sold to a Fairfax, Va.-based Prudential franchise owner.

The sale of the Baltimore division to Prudential Carruthers Realtors is expected to close by the end of the week, officials of the Prudential Real Estate Affiliates Inc., the franchiser for both Prudential Preferred Properties and Prudential Carruthers Realtors, said yesterday.

Carole A. Greenwald-Ryan, who became sole owner of the Baltimore division in the May 5 reorganization, is expected to remain involved in the merged operation, said Laura Buser, a Prudential spokeswoman. Ms. Greenwald-Ryan, president of the Baltimore division since 1990, could not be reached yesterday.

The future of nine Prudential offices in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties remained unclear. Offices in Perry Hall and Roland Park have closed.

The franchiser expects Prudential to benefit from the sale because it will more than double the size of the Carruthers operation.

"It will give us a stronger and more competitive edge, the fact that the company that will be there will be stronger and larger," she said. "It increases agents' referral opportunities and helps consumers [because] the areas they service will be larger and offer more properties to view."

Before it restructured in May, the former Prudential mid-Atlantic franchise included Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia divisions. As independent companies, each entity renegotiated its debt with Prudential Residential Services Co., which had financed the bulk of the mid-Atlantic franchise sale to Ms. Greenwald-Ryan and four partners in 1990.

The reorganization was prompt-ed by a more than $2 million cash crunch in the Washington division resulting from a drop in home sales. Shortly after the breakup, the Washington company was sold to Weichert Realtors, the second-largest real estate company in metropolitan Washington.

At the time of the restructuring, Ms. Greenwald-Ryan, who started in real estate in 1967, said she had no intention of selling the company. For several years, the weakened economy and a slowdown in home sales had forced her to slash expenses. Like many other local real estate brokers, she closed offices, laid off staff, and cut advertising and office support to keep the company profitable. But the cuts had prompted dozens of agents to leave, including some who headed to competing agencies when their commissions were delayed by as much as 30 days after settlement.

Those who left have received money owed them, one former Prudential agent said yesterday.

Managers of Baltimore-area Prudential offices said yesterday that they were still waiting to hear whether any changes will result from the sale.

Roxane Zach, manager of Prudential's Lutherville office, said she hopes to stay on with the company and expects her 18 agents will as well.

"Everyone I have spoken with is delighted," she said. "I don't see any changes."

Tom Carruthers, president of Prudential Carruthers, was reportedly meeting with Baltimore-area Prudential managers yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

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