Survival of the fittest
TAHOE CITY ” With two Tahoe real estate mergers occurring within days of each other in late October, those in the industry continue to try and stay grounded in an already wavering market.
As the weeks since the mergers have shown, real estate agents across Truckee and the North Shore have had to reevaluate their situations, not only with their companies, but with the industry as a whole.
“It’s a tough market for brokers of any size. For those who run the mom and pops, when they don’t have the money to cover overhead costs, it can be more challenging,” said Cathy Harry, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors.
There is good news, though. The group is reporting a 12 percent increase this year in total inventory sold, despite the fact the prices per unit have decreased.
“We are busier than last year,” Harry said. The Prudential branch in Truckee sold 18 units this October, as compared to zero in October 2007.
Still, costs are being cut, companies are combining and overheads are being lessened.
“It’s just like any business,” Harry said. “My concern for the mergers are for all the folks working so hard, when the name changes, we want to make sure it’s handled well. This is still a time to keep our heads up and work together.”
For some, the mergers have provided a competitive advantage in the market.
“There’s always people that benefit from the mergers,” said Vince Scott, Broker/Owner of Intero Real Estate Services Incline Village. “I’ve picked up a few more agents and a few more market shares because of the recent mergers.”
Scott said the luxury, high-end markets are still seeing serious buyers.
“There’s always people who need to buy and sell,” added Scott. “You need to be more creative in how you do it.”
For others, the mergers mean losing the hold on a particular market because a company is diluted with outside influence.
“When you talk about major companies, they are not geared to the Incline Village market,” said Tom Bruno, former Coldwell Banker Incline Village agent who moved to Chase International following the merger. “They may try to catch up, but in these times, I don’t want to waste time trying to catch up.”
Whether the recent mergers have affected the industry for better or worse, many believe a leaner real estate industry could benefit buyers.
“I think there needs to be a weeding out process,” said Scott. “It got a little top heavy and anyone who could get a license was selling homes.”
According to Bruno, approximately 25 percent of the agents in Incline Village are full-time.
“It’s painful,” said Daniel Jacuzzi, President of the two new Coldwell Banker firms.
“But in the long run, the right-sizing of an industry creates a foundation for it grow off in a more positive way.”
While these mergers have caused some good fortune and others grief, the true test of intestinal fortitude is coming in the first quarter of next year.
With this year’s National Association of Realtors dues already been paid, the next round is coming in January.
Bruno explained that it is likely a higher percentage of people will drop out this year as opposed to previous ones.