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Realtor associations propose merger

By Staff | Oct 2, 2015

There is always strength in numbers, and if area Realtors agree that one huge association is better than two smaller ones, the benefits could be staggering.

The boards of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors and the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach unanimously agreed this summer to merge the two organizations, pending approval of their memberships.

Members of both associations can vote during the 10-day voting period from Oct. 17 to 26, and there is a website, www.vote2unite.com, devoted to encourage members to vote to merge “for a better organization.”

If approved, the merger would bring the joint membership number to approximately 6,000, 5,300 of which are in the Fort Myers association.

Paula Hellenbrand, president of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors, said the boards met over the summer to discuss the pros and cons of doing it before deciding unanimously to approve it.

“It is the best outcome for all Realtors. The world is bigger than one town and we serve clients from all over. We can be much stronger politically for our Realtors and the public we serve by combining our resources,” Hellenbrand said.

Jason Jakus, president of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, said many of his Realtors serve Fort Myers, but live and work in Cape Coral.

“We have 1,600 that live and work in that market and we first talked about potential shared services such as education,” Jakus said. “There was an overlapping of resources and inefficiencies. It made sense to sit down and talk about merging.”

Both organizations have shared their resources for years already, which has really helped the consumer, Hellenbrand said, because it gives sellers the broadest exposure to the Realtors in the area.

“The more people who know my home is for sale the more likely it will sell. It benefits them to have us all united,” Hellenbrand said. “We simply breaking down the borders and allowing us to unit and make a difference.”

“Most people don’t see the river as a border or barrier nor do our members. It’s in our own head,” Jakus said. “This will help enhance the customer experience. It will save the Realtors time and money and the consumer won’t see a big difference.”

The merger would bring benefits such as increased access to education, three office locations, increased access to trained staff members for education, political and governmental affairs, enhanced service, shared technologies, reduced direct costs, increased opportunity to enhance its recognition, one set of dues and greater collaboration.

Following approval, a joint task force comprised of board members from both associations would determine the board composition for the transition year of 2016 and submit a new name with the merger request to the National Association of Realtors for approval. According to the website, neither city would be mentioned in the name.

With the synergy both sides have had, Hellenbrand said she didn’t understand why it took so long to merge.

“Sometimes, it’s about having the right people at the right time. We have right commonalities of great people and leadership,” Hellenbrand said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the people who vote and it’s in their hands now. I can’t think of a reason someone would be against it.”

“Everything happens for a reason and I think with our leadership we asked ourselves ‘What if,” Jakus said. “It was a matter of timing.”

For more information, visit www.vote2unite.com.