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Changing faces of Erie real estate


At one time the Erie real estate scene included more than a dozen real estate ... Weichert, which has affiliates in 39 states, was founded in Chatham, New Jersey, in 1969 and expanded throughout the northeastern United States. Heasley plans to increase ...


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New national names have come to the county, and individual agents have gone out on their ownHere's what's new in Erie-area real estate. Pam Parker @HerTimesErie At one time the Erie real estate scene included more than a dozen real estate offices with local ownersSome were small and others were large, but local folks owned them all.National and regional franchises moved into town, and some local business owners became local franchise ownersBut a new crop of Realtors is stepping away from the franchises and out on their ownOther Realtors are teaming up with franchises that have never been here before.So who went out on their own?In the past decade, few Realtors have taken on the responsibility of going it alone, but recently two Erie men have started their own offices. Joe Herbert, owner of Joe Herbert Realty, 4528 Zuck Road, went out on his own in 2016Herbert, 57, had worked for Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services and Coldwell Banker Select in residential and commercial sales."I made the decision to go out on my own because I had reached a point where I wanted to leverage my brand and experience and build my own team of people and help them succeed," he said.Herbert bought the former historic schoolhouse on Zuck Road and West Grandview BoulevardIt had been converted into a home decades ago and then into a beauty salonHerbert renovated the building, leased out the salon and now has five agents, with three more scheduled to join his staff this yearHerbert also personally owns additional properties and businesses.Herbert said real estate is a tough business with a high percentage of agents getting out of the industry after only three years"I felt like I could change that," he saidHe said he believes the small business approach has enabled him to spend more time with clients and in training staff.Similarly, Bob Pfister, owner of Bob Pfister Realty, 4674 Tulane Ave., opened his office in January 2016He'd had careers in business and management before joining Howard Hanna Real Estate as a part-time agentIn 2009, he was recruited to manage the Coldwell Banker Select airport office.What made him want to take off on his own? "I told myself if I was going to do it, now is the time to do it, and no matter what happened I could still be an agent, so there was no downside," said Pfister, 60He opened his doors in an office attached to Great Lakes Construction on Asbury Road, a facility many residents will recall was once known as Padden'sHe now has three agents on his team, with one more joining this month.Pfister said the reward is that he has more time with clients and staff members now that he is away from a large companyBut there are challenges"You have to keep the plates spinning when it's a rather lean month," he said.What are the trends in real estate office ownership?Herbert and Pfister represent the norm for Realtors across the countryA 2016 National Association of Realtors study, provided by Herbert, indicates that 78 percent of real estate firms in the country have only one office with three Realtors in it, and that's an increase from 2015The study also indicates that 83 percent of the offices are not associated with franchises.New franchises join the mixRE/Max Realtors and Coldwell Banker Select Realtors are well-known national franchises in the area, along with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, a regional broker that does business in several statesBut new signs recently started popping up on homes.Keller Williams Realty opened a branch in Erie in 2016, and Fred Wienecke is the team leader of the office located at 2550 Village Common DriveWienecke, 39, previously worked for Howard Hanna and Palermo RealtyHe said the current office has 18 agents, with more scheduled to join this year"I anticipate between 40 and 50 agents by the end of 2018," he saidKeller Williams is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and dates to 1983It is an international franchise.Sherri Heasley, broker for Pro Realtors, just joined the national chain Weichert Realtors, and her firm is now called Weichert Realtors — the Pro GroupHeasley, 56, had been in real estate as an independent business owner for 31 years, but she decided the time was right to join Weichert Realtors in December because Weichert offered advantages she didn't have as a private business owner"The resources — systems and tools — that are available from Weichert network will enable the agents to capture more business opportunities to grow their businessesWe need to invest in ourselves — the agents and the company — for continued growth and excellence," Heasley said. Weichert, which has affiliates in 39 states, was founded in Chatham, New Jersey, in 1969 and expanded throughout the northeastern United StatesHeasley plans to increase her 20-member staff by an additional 14 people by end of this year"We currently have nine people in varying levels of training/test taking status," she said.Are real estate careers calling?If you've been keeping track, these four real estate office bosses are expecting to add about 40 staff members this year, and other firms are also looking for agentsHerbert said he believes the local market offers opportunity in addition to local homeowners moving to upgrade or downsize"We do have some people moving into the area for medical careers," he said.Pam Parker can be reached at 870-1821Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/HerTimesErie. 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