BY KATHY BEVAN

In separate undertakings concluded one month apart, HomeLife
Realty Services and Sutton Group Real Estate have both bought back their
respective regional franchise operations in the provinces of Alberta,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Under the headline Corporate Strategies Do Change, HomeLife
Realty Services announced that in December it had re-acquired franchise
licensing rights and management for the Prairies from partners Rick Dubord and
Colin Dreyer. Dubord and Dreyer continue to own the franchise rights for B.C.,
and will now operate as HomeLife of B.C. Terms of the all-cash transaction were
not disclosed.

The Prairie region re-acquisition marks a distinct change
for HomeLife Realty, dramatically shifting it from decentralized to centralized
corporate ownership, with the national franchisor now fully in control of the
regional franchise rights in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and the Prairies.

“We have the financial capability and a corporate plan to
consolidate the region,” says Louis Eliopulos, HomeLife Realty’s COO. “The deal
was timely and a win-win proposition for all parties concerned.”

Dubord says: “The bottom line is that HomeLife Realty
has the resources to go in and expand the franchise. They've had success in Toronto and the east and
they wanted to carry that forward into the Prairie region.” He adds:
“What we're going to do here in B.C. is continue with our corporate
offices and the development of the franchises in this province.”

In B.C., HomeLife recently left its western headquarters in New Westminster and moved
its executive staff into one of its real estate offices in Cloverdale, to make
better use of company space and reduce overhead. “It's worked well —
we're back in the heart of our company, our costs are down and now we’re geared
to move ahead,” says Dubord.

Also shifting into centralization mode, Sutton Group
Financial Services announced that in January it had too had reacquired its real
estate franchise system in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for a purchase
price of $535,000 – partly in cash and partly in common stock of Sutton Group
Financial Services. In making the announcement, president and CEO Scott Shaw
said this move “represents part of the corporation’s continuing strategy to
reacquire certain of its regional franchises and streamline operations in order
to remain competitive in the face of increasing consolidation in the real estate
brokerage industry.”

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