Small real estate firms in the valley making changes |

Small real estate firms in the valley making changes

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The local real estate business has always been competitive. Sometimes, keeping up means looking for outside help.

A handful of local real estate companies have either sold, merged or expanded in the past few weeks. Those involved say there’s a simple reason for the moves: resources.

Kraig Forbes has been associated with Sotheby’s International Realty for the past several years. His experience with a world-wide network has been fruitful, Forbes said, because he and the other brokers at his company made contacts with people they’d otherwise have missed.

When Forbes was approached by Fuller BCV, another Sotheby’s-associated company based in the Denver area, and with an office in Park City, Utah, it didn’t take long to make a decision.

“It was a natural fit,” Forbes said. “About 30 percent of the Vail Valley market is from the Front Range.”

And Forbes said he and the other brokers at the local office are already starting to see some benefits.

“We have a marketing department now,” Forbes said. “A company of 20 doesn’t have the same tools that a company of 200 does. There are tools out there I didn’t event know about.”

More marketing muscle was one of the reasons Kathy Cole recently merged her company, Coldwell Banker Timberline Real Estate, with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, which has offices in Steamboat Springs and Sun Valley, Idaho.

“We saw what happened in Steamboat (when it merged with Distinctive),” Cole said. Distinctive owner Todd Conklin is trying to grow the company, Cole said, and may add other resort-area offices besides the ones in Vail and Steamboat.

“It made a lot of sense – we can share some expenses,” Cole said. “It really strengthens our resources.”

Brooke Gagnon for the past few years has been a “team leader” for Keller Williams Realty in the valley, which means she’s been focusing on marketing and adding more brokers to the national company’s team. Old Town Realty of Steamboat recently joined that network of local offices.

“They wanted a national brand behind them,” Gagnon said, adding that a companywide profit-sharing program is an added incentive for brokers, especially in a down market.

Gagnon said clients may come to local offices through the national brand but still want to work with veterans of the local scene.

Both Forbes and Cole said they won’t be surprised if other small, local companies join with bigger groups down the road.

“Smaller firms may look at it as they realize there’s more tools available to them,” Forbes said. “The more tools we have these days, the better.”

Cole agreed, adding that it’s hard for smaller offices to compete with larger companies. Consolidation, she said, “gives you more you can offer clients. I’m excited about this, to see what happens.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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