February 1, 2023 at 5:11 p.m.

New name, bigger reach

New name, bigger reach
New name, bigger reach

By Ben Sonnek- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Coldwell Banker Crown Realtors acquires Neighborhood Realty

Local real estate is getting a broader reach, thanks to Coldwell Banker Crown Realtor’s recent acquisition of Sauk Centre’s Neighborhood Realty.

“We are honored to serve the team in Sauk Centre and all of our surrounding communities,” said Brandon Johnson, president and CEO of CBCR. “A large marketing team behind the hyper-local agents within our Coldwell Banker Crown team is an amazing mix of talent for the communities. We are honored to partner together in impacting lives through real estate.”

For Neal Leagjeld, who will transition from Neighborhood Realty’s managing owner to CBCR associate broker, the merger should allow him more family time, and he anticipates his annual sale rate to remain in the usual 55-65 range.

“My sales aren’t going to dip because of this move,” Leagjeld said. “In fact, they may even increase because I’m going to have a little more time to be a lot more effective as an agent.”

CBCR, an Alexandria-based real estate agency, currently has 27 agents across four Central Minnesota offices, including ones in Morris and Crosby.

The acquisition process began about a year and a half ago when Leagjeld and Johnson met, and Neighborhood Realty received an offer from CBCR by September 2021. The process was tabled for a time as Leagjeld had to attend to family matters.

“In mid-October (2022), my wife and I broke everything down as far as pros and cons – what the benefits would be versus what we’d be losing,” Leagjeld said. “Really, the one big thing that stood out was that most small real estate companies either pass their company on to a family member or just shut the doors.”

The agents and people in the Sauk Centre area were what drew Johnson toward acquiring Neighborhood Realty; from his early conversations with Leagjeld, he could tell Neighborhood Realty was culturally and geographically a good fit for CBCR.

“A rising tide lifts all ships,” Johnson said. “With this acquisition, the national brand recognition and local, family owned brokerage will benefit the agents and the consumer. We are able to expand the Coldwell Banker Crown footprint while bringing new services and opportunities to the communities.”

Leagjeld was also happy with how CBCR’S culture fit with his agency.

“I would never move to a company that didn’t align with Neighborhood Realty’s core values of being extremely involved in the community,” Leagjeld said. “Almost monthly, we’ve had something we’ve been a part of or supported locally. In all of the communities he’s in, Brandon’s very much aligned with me when it comes to that.”

While the cultural alignment is more important to Leagjeld than the CBCR name, he does see the value in said name as he sees more home sales in the area going through larger companies.

“In Sauk Centre (last year), around 30% of the sales were from agencies outside the Sauk Centre area,” Leagjeld said. “A lot of times, the people who are using the outside agencies are using the big-box companies, so if we can give people a local option with that corporate name, I think there’s going to be a significant benefit.”

Leagjeld anticipates minimal changes to his branch of the agency when the acquisition takes effect.

“Neighborhood Realty always closely operated as a team,” Leagjeld said. “We’ve always had a ton of fun together and have always been very tight-knit. With the personnel here, not a lot’s going to change with that. I took each agent underneath the microscope with this (merger), and each and every one of them is going to have significant benefits to their career because of this move.”

From Leagjeld’s perspective, this year’s housing market will be a good one as long as they have houses to sell – although, at the moment, that inventory is pretty slim.

“The interest rates and job market play a huge factor into it, but the bottom line is, if we don’t have inventory, we have to create it,” Leagjeld said. “There’s still a tremendous amount of demand, and so the way to create (inventory) is by creating more homes.”

Some new homes in the region include a four-door twin-home development in Long Prairie. In Sauk Centre, there are the GreyStone area’s twin homes project and Sauk Centre’s coming Authors Addition.

“If you do a 10 twin-home development and five people from Sauk Centre buy out there, it’s not just 10 homes reentering the market in Sauk Centre; now, we’ve shifted 15 homes,” Leagjeld said. “We really need to encourage the (Authors Addition) development when it comes on because, again, if that’s 10 doors right there, that could be another five or eight doors that become available in town. Development is what’s going to stir the inventory up.”

Johnson notices the inventory need and the incoming demand as well.

“We’re in an adjusting market,” Johnson said. “The past two years have shown us a lot of growth in homeowner’s equity. While the market is still in need of inventory, the buyers are out there and waiting. We are now on trend with 2019 numbers and themes as we approach the spring season. We are feeling very confident that 2023 will be a great year for real estate whether you’re buying or selling.”

The Sauk Centre office is also getting remodeled as the merger gets under way. Johnson noticed a decline in large conference room usage during 2020 and beyond; smaller areas for about five people are becoming more commonplace, so the Neighborhood Realty space is being reorganized with that in mind. Offices are getting more private, and there will be painting, reflooring and redecorating to make the area more uniform.

In the merger, Leagjeld is looking forward to working with fellow like-minded agents in a broader range.

“I can cut down on travel time if I don’t have to run up to Brainerd or Morris to show,” Leagjeld said. “Less time on the road is going to give me a lot more time with my wife and my family.”


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