Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

McGrew dropping Coldwell Banker, returning to independent roots

November 29, 2007

Now chairman of Coldwell Banker McGrew Real Estate, Mike McGrew knows he's got plenty of work ahead in the coming weeks.

Among the biggest jobs: Changing about 300 "For Sale" signs throughout Lawrence, Eudora and the surrounding area.

"We're going to go out and swap them all out," said McGrew, who formally became chairman and CEO last month. "There's lots to do."

That's because the agency founded by his grandfather

56 years ago is returning to its roots, dropping its 10-year-old franchise affiliation with Coldwell Banker and returning to work as an independent real estate agency.

The switch -- back to McGrew Real Estate -- formally takes effect Dec. 1.

That's when all the familiar blue-and-white signs will be taken down, replaced with red-and-white versions with fewer words but still backed by the same 65 agents and a dozen or so other professionals who will continue helping clients to buy, sell and lease real estate.

By not renewing the agency's 10-year franchise agreement, McGrew Real Estate no longer will need to pay fees to Coldwell Banker -- fees that generally work out to about 8 percent of total gross sales.

That's a significant price to pay, McGrew said, for an agency that just a few years ago recorded peak sales of about $100 million -- and especially considering that the franchise affiliation also meant giving up some local flexibility when it came to making business decisions.

"We send quite a bit of money to Parsippany, New Jersey, and then they spread it out all over the country," McGrew said. "Our people are excited about having more control over our time and our resources, and the ability to have more impact locally.

"They just feel like it's a real advantage to have control again at the local level, and we do feel like we have the opportunity to pursue some things that we didn't feel like we had control over before. We really are hopeful that this is the first of several very positive steps."

McGrew Real Estate has three offices. Two are in Lawrence -- at 1501 Kasold Drive and 4100 W. Sixth St. -- and one is in Eudora at 1402 Church St.

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