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Merger of Two Top-Selling Coldwell Banker Franchises Creates State’s Third-Largest Residential Real Estate Brokerage

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RISMEDIA, November 17, 2011–Two of the top-selling Coldwell Banker franchises in North Carolina have joined forces, creating the state’s third-largest residential real estate brokerage company.

The merger of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty of Wilmington and Coldwell Banker Advantage of Raleigh and Fayetteville creates a regional powerhouse with a sales team of more than 600 agents and 26 sales offices in Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Jacksonville and other Eastern North Carolina markets. The two companies combined to generate more than $1.3 billion in sales volume from 6,500 real estate transactions in 2010, which would have ranked the merged company as the state’s third-largest brokerage, according to REAL Trends, a real estate industry trade magazine.

Those totals would also have ranked among the top 55 brokerages in the country in sales volume and among the top 75 in transactions, according to the magazine.

The two companies are on track to surpass last year’s sales and transactions totals in 2011, having already exceeded $1 billion in sales and 6,000 transactions through October, according to statistics provided by local offices of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The merger was announced by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation CEO Jim Gillespie on Thursday, November 17, in separate news conferences in Raleigh and Wilmington.

“Today’s merger creates the fifth largest Coldwell Banker affiliated company in North America,” Gillespie said.

“Coldwell Banker Advantage and Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty have been long-time members of the Coldwell Banker Chairman’s Circle, representing the best-of-the-best of our great brand,” he said.

The new company will be led by co-CEOs Tim Milam of Sea Coast Realty and Gary Rabon of Advantage. In Wilmington, it will be called Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, while in Raleigh and Fayetteville it will continue to operate under the Advantage name.

“This is a true merger of equals,” Milam said. “It is not an acquisition. I want to emphasize that in the strongest possible terms. All owners of both companies will remain owners with the new company. Neither company is buying the other. Instead we’re joining forces to compete more effectively in today’s challenging marketplace.

“Gary and I have been friends for years,” he added. “Our companies have been built on similar values and culture. We’ve talked about merging for at least the last five years, and finally decided this summer the time was right to get it done.”

Rabon added:  “This is a merger where both companies are strengthened. It builds our regional footprint and enables us to do an even better job of supporting our team of brokers and agents in the field. It also creates a lot of synergies in terms of marketing, training and technology.”

The merger brings together two companies that have dominated their respective markets. SeaCoast Realty is currently the number one brokerage in Wilmington, Brunswick County, Topsail and Jacksonville with over 23 percent of the market.

Advantage, meanwhile, ranks number four in Raleigh and number one in Fayetteville, according to MLS statistics.

Both have emerged as leaders in North Carolina’s fast-growing military market, with strong positions among military families in Fayetteville and Jacksonville – home of Fort Bragg and Camp LeJeune, respectively.

The merged companies will also have an advantage in serving the two-way traffic between the Raleigh/Research Triangle and the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach markets, Rabon said.

“There’s a lot of cross-pollination on I-40 in both directions,” he said. “Triangle families are looking in Wilmington area for second-home opportunities, while a lot of Wilmington area families are looking to move to the Triangle for job opportunities.

“The merger gives us an even better connection to this growing segment of the market, one that we are both going to capitalize on.”

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