Realtor association memberships vote to merge
Area Realtors agreed by a huge margin that there is strength in numbers and that it will result in a better organization.
Realtors from the Cape Coral Association of Realtors and the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach agreed in a landslide to merge the two organizations after a vote between the two memberships that took place last week.
In Cape Coral, 92 percent voted in favor of the merger, with more than 83 percent eligible voters casting ballots.
A two-thirds vote was necessary for the merger to go through, according to the Cape Coral Association bylaws, according to Paula Hellenbrand president of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors.
“We’ve worked together for so long. We’ve shared an MOS for many years. We work with each other in transactions, do joint education. It just makes sense and our members agreed,” Hellenbrand said.
In Fort Myers, 96.5 percent of voters cast an affirmative vote. Members of both associations had the opportunity to vote during a 10-day voting period from Oct. 17 to 26.
The merger will bring the joint membership to approximately 6,000, of which 5,300 were in the Fort Myers association.
“We’re very excited about it. It’s been in the making for some time and we had overwhelming response from both sides. We’ll be able to create efficiencies between us and better our members and the public,” said Jason Jakus, president of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach.
The merger means less duplication of services and staff, as well as increased access to education, three office locations, increased access to trained staff members for education, political and governmental affairs, enhanced service, shared technologies, more political clout, reduced direct costs, increased opportunity to enhance its recognition, one set of dues and greater collaboration.
“We can offer a larger number of educational opportunities for members because it will be easier to meet minimum participation standards,” Hellenbrand said. “The more quantity and volume you have, the cheaper it gets.”
Moving forward, a joint task force comprised of board members from both associations will determine the board composition and submit a new name with the merger request to the National Association of Realtors for approval.
Hellenbrand said the transition will be toughest part, especially the legalese and financials, but all the work should be worth it.
“We have two CEOs and two staffs. We’ll create a nominating committee with 50/50 representation so we can get the right people to fill the top jobs,” Hellenbrand said. “I’m very excited and honored to be a part of this. Everyone is very like-minded and ready to do what’s best for our members.”
“If we can say one year from now and ask our members if they voted yes, would you vote yes again,” Jakus said. “If everyone says yes, we won.”
The merger goal is set for Jan. 1, 2016.