Real Estate Agencies See Consolidations, Closings – Arkansas Business

By George Waldon –




The biggest of residential real estate agencies in Arkansas got bigger in a year that marked an end of a home sales boom. Crye-Leike Realtors pushed its 2008 sales volume in the state to $900 million (up from $837 million in 2007) as it remained No. 1.


Among the top 10, only Keller Williams Realty of Little Rock joined Memphis-based Crye-Leike in reporting sales gains in 2008. The firm moved from No. 11 and $128.2 million in 2007 to No. 7 and nearly $141 million.


Accompanying the sales slowdown were consolidations and closings. Six of the 40 largest firms joined forces through mergers.


The biggest during the past 12 months was the late December 2008 sale of Coldwell Banker Advantage Realty to Rector Phillips Morse.


At its peak, Coldwell Banker Advantage Realty ranked as the third-largest residential real estate agency in the state for 2007, with a $323.8 million sales volume and 208 licensed agents and brokers.


The combination of the two Little Rock companies produced Coldwell Banker RPM and solidified the position of Rector Phillips Morse as a leading residential player. Founded in 1955 by William F. Rector, RPM is a mainstay among central Arkansas realty firms.


Coldwell Banker Advantage, which opened in February 2001 with 14 agents, was founded on the purchase of Coldwell Banker McKinney & Co. Realtors in west Little Rock. Led by Wayne and Paulette Richie, the firm stayed on the acquisition trail to amass market share in central Arkansas.


During its nearly eight years of operations, the company grew to become the third-largest residential real estate firm in Arkansas and No. 91 among Coldwell Banker franchisees nationwide.


The 10 buys ranged from six-agent shops to large operations. Among the deals were the Cabot office of Jacksonville-based Bart Gray Realty in 2003, Real Estate Central in North Little Rock and Bart Gray Realty of Jacksonville in 2004, Coldwell Banker Alliance at Hot Springs Village in 2005, Arnett & Associates Realtor of Cabot and Rainey Realty of Little Rock in 2006 and Coldwell Banker Alliance Realty of Hot Springs in 2007.


“We realized there were too many players in the market for its size,” Wayne Richie said. “Sometimes the reality comes that it’s better to seek out someone to merge with, to combine forces and make a stronger company.”


That scenario was repeated in northwest Arkansas in July 2008 when Benchmark Real Estate of Lowell was folded into Griffin Co. Realtors of Springdale. The merged operations ranked Griffin Co. No. 15 with a 2008 sales volume of $95.2 million.


In 2007, Griffin Co. ranked No. 12 ($125.2 million), and Benchmark ranked No. 39 ($43.3 million). That combination would have ranked No. 7 in 2007.


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