Michelle Corbet, Memphis Business Journal
Two Mississippi real estate companies have combined to create a single Century 21 franchise with the largest market share in the state.
Century 21 Maselle & Associates has acquired Bob Leigh & Associates through a five-year financial agreement for an undisclosed amount, bringing 106 real estate agents and seven Mississippi cities to the Century 21 franchise.
“This isn’t just a big deal for us, but also for Century 21,” said Doug Maselle, president and managing broker, Century 21 Maselle & Associates.
About seven months ago, Bob Leigh, principal broker of Bob Leigh & Associates, started exploring options for the future of the company when he and wife Peggy were experiencing health complications.
“I told my agents, I can promise you, I’m not going to do anything that’s not good for you and the future of the company,” he said.
Leigh said he knew if he merged with another company, he wanted to find one that was expanding to Memphis. Maselle has about 120 agents and offices in Brandon, Clinton, Jackson, Byram and Madison, Mississippi, as well as an office on Farmington Boulevard in Germantown.
With the acquisition of Bob Leigh & Associates, Maselle will add about 100 agents and offices in Southaven, Hernando, Senatobia and Batesville, Mississippi.
“We’ve done a couple of acquisitions over the years, and what I’m interested in is the broker — not necessarily their facilities or financials,” Maselle said.
He went on to explain how brokers who have good relationships with their agents tend to have loyal employees.
“Bob could sell to anybody, but he chose me, but I also chose them because I knew the kind of agents they would bring,” Maselle said.
The acquisition warranted a visit from the Century 21 corporate office in Madison, New Jersey. The two Mississippi companies and executives from Century 21 announced the acquisition to a room full of Bob Leigh real estate agents over lunch June 9.
Greg Sexton, Century 21 COO, said the corporate office wanted to help celebrate a great coming together of two companies joining Century 21.
“What’s so great about these two companies coming together is now, Century 21 in the state of Mississippi has the No. 1 market share out of any real estate company out there,” Sexton said.
Century 21 operates in 78 countries with more than 100,000 agents worldwide and 7,000 offices, but did not have a presence in Northwest Mississippi prior to the acquisition.
Sexton said Century 21 is preparing to introduce a new technology that it acquired from ZipRealty Inc. for $166 million last summer, giving the agents a competitive advantage they have not had.
Technology was one of the things that sold Leigh on franchising with Century 21.
As part of a corporate system, independently owned and operated Century 21 franchisees benefit from marketing services and cutting-edge technology. Those tools and services come at a price of a franchise fee of 6 percent on each real estate transaction.
Though it may be worth it: According to the 2013 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Real Estate Firms, firms affiliated with a franchise report an 87 percent boost in name recognition, an 85 percent increase in enhanced use of technology and an 83 percent improvement in acquiring listings.
Leigh said each agent would need to make one more deal a year to make up for the 6 percent fee, but with the technology Century 21 brings to the table, agents should see business increase 25 percent, he said.
Leigh and his wife want the acquisition to be as seamless as possible and have agreed to remain principal broker and managing broker for a minimum of two years with associates Jimmy Jones, managing broker/trainer for the Southaven office, and Jeff Waters, administrative consultant, also committed.
“We feel like we’ve hit a home run with Maselle & Associates,” Peggy Leigh said. “The culture of the company is so much like our own, and Maselle is such a strong, innovative and successful broker, when you add the strength of Century 21 to that it just makes for a great marriage.”