Local Coldwell Banker branch buys Century 21

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— Coldwell Banker's local branch is acquiring Century 21 Ski Town Associates.

Karen and Mix Beauvais, who run the Coldwell Banker Silver Oak branch, said they are buying out Century 21 owner Chuck Armbruster. Coldwell Banker and Century 21 are owned by the same parent company, Realogy, Karen Beauvais said.

"It was only logical that when Chuck looked for someone to buy him out, he would come to us," she said. "We share the same philosophy, the same education, the same Web sites."

With the purchase, which was initiated a couple of weeks ago, Coldwell Banker will add 60 listings to its 95 and 10 people to its staff of 30 full-time brokers, Karen Beauvais said. The new brokers will work out of the agency's Silver Oak office, which adjoins the downtown post office.

Karen and Mix Beauvais said they have lived in Steamboat Springs for nearly 40 years and have owned the Coldwell Banker franchise for 20. Karen Beauvais said buying another agency was a good move, despite the trials of the housing industry.

"I don't perceive real estate as a down market," she said. "This is when you go after the good guys; this is when you go after the business."

The response from her real estate colleagues has varied.

"I can't lie and say everybody's given me a high five," she said. "Some people think I'm nuts. But the general perception is that this is a very smart thing for us to do, to consolidate and to be able to choose the agents that we want to join us."

Few real estate agents returned calls seeking comment about the merger or the state of the local industry. Dennis O'Connor, broker-owner of Lincoln Avenue Realty, said the Beauvaises were wise to buy out Century 21.

"I think in a tight market like this, you've got to be lean and mean, and when you consolidate, you spread the expenses over a few more agents," O'Connor said.

The Steamboat area market, which started to slip last fall, has rebounded in the past several weeks, Karen Beauvais said.

O'Connor also said he was seeing increased interest in real estate.

"People buying now at reasonable prices with cheaper money are going to be the winners in the future," O'Connor said.

Brokers, however, have been leaving the business or switching companies, he said. Some realized the profession wasn't viable for them anymore, O'Connor said. Armbruster, who owned the Century 21 franchise, did not return calls seeking comment. He will stay on as an agent, Karen Beauvais said.

Contracts won't change dramatically for Century 21 customers, she said. The wording will be altered to turn the accounts over to Coldwell Banker, and the agency will switch out the signs and the listings.

"All of their sellers will be treated the same, with the same care and dedication," Karen Beauvais said.

She said her office was one of the top five Coldwell Banker offices in the country in four of 12 months last year. The brokers at Coldwell Banker believe in the franchise owners and share their values, Karen Beauvais said.

"My retirement plan is to drop dead at my desk, and so is Mix's," she said. "We're not going anywhere."

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