In a move to expand its sales capacity and presence in New Jersey, the residential brokerage arm of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC has acquired all assets of Clifton-based Prime Realty USA.
"The real estate market and the consumer have changed. Now, there needs to be more confidence in a brand, and that's where an international brand like ours comes into play," said Hal Maxwell, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. "With us having the number-one or number-two market shares in many markets, it's difficult for smaller companies to find ways to compete, so they figure, 'Why beat 'em if we can join 'em.' "
But Maxwell said Prime Realty has held a dominant market share for years in areas of North Jersey where Coldwell had difficulty building a presence. So, when former Prime Realty co-owners Arlene Freeman and Fran Harrison told Maxwell they were interested in an acquisition during a routine phone call six months ago, he realized that bringing on their sales team would "only enhance what we're doing."
"We've been a mom-and-pop shop for 26 years. Other companies were looking to acquire us, but we knew Coldwell Banker was the place to go, because it offered the most," Harrison said. "Our client base is tremendous in Passaic and Clifton, so we feel the transition will be seamless for our agents and customers. I know we can only grow with Coldwell's technology and experience."
According to a spokeswoman, in the past two years, the company has only acquired Prime Realty, though a "number of agents and owners" from four small firms in central and northern New Jersey have joined Coldwell in that time period.
"We will always be looking for other companies to join forces with, because we're made up of acquisitions and mergers," Maxwell said. "This is a very good time to do it, since we're experiencing an increase in the real estate market, while the tools needed to support agents and consumers are becoming more difficult for smaller companies to deliver."
Prime Realty formerly operated one office with 17 sales staff, which will merge into Coldwell's Clifton office. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, which is owned by NRT LLC, a subsidiary of Realogy Corp., has 58 offices and more than 3,000 staff in New Jersey. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.