The Real Deal Miami

Keller Williams on the hunt for mergers in down market

By Jennifer LeClaire | June 26, 2009 02:24PM

South Florida’s real estate market is one of the hardest hit regions in the country, but bad times for brokerages also mean opportunities for consolidation as smaller, weakened players falter and seek deep-pocketed backing.

Keller Williams Pembroke Pines has added dozens of agents this year, including the just-completed acquisition of Lyon Company Realtors. In total, the Pembroke Pines office has 162 agents and saw $31,000 in May profits — its most profitable month ever — despite the local market challenges.

“We’re in talks with a few groups right now about mergers,” said Natascha Tello, broker and operating principal at the Pembroke Pines office. “It’s always about finding a win-win. With Mark Lyon, his core group was a match. Our two companies’ cultures are basically identical, placing God, family, and business at the forefront of our lives.”

Lyon, an industry veteran since 1991, started his own company in May 2005, along with his wife, Monin, his son, Mark Lyon Jr. and his daughter-in-law Kristy. 

The market collapse convinced Mark Lyon that joining forces with Keller Williams would allow him to offer his agents a stronger training program to help them remain competitive. 

“Keller Williams has the training, the culture and the values we need to advance in this industry. The profit-sharing model was secondary to the culture,” Lyon says. “I am a major producer and I know I can get good splits wherever I go, but Keller Williams offered me an opportunity to become part of a phenomenal winning team.”

Although KW had attempted to recruit Lyon in the past — and he had entertained discussions with team leaders several times — he decided now was the time to make the move. At the height of the market, Lyon Company Realtors had 75 agents on board. The real estate downturn left him with 30 agents. Ten of them followed Lyon to Keller Williams.

“The culture of Keller Williams attracted me,” said Dan Crispino, who worked at Lyon Company Realtors before the merger. “People are always reluctant to change, but in this case change was for the better. The training and support is going to help me take my business to the next level. The transition has been seamless.”

Lyon admitted the other 20 agents were disappointed to see Lyon Company Realtors disband. Nobody likes change, he said. But he credited Keller Williams executives with handling the transition so smoothly that the top producers that followed him to Keller Williams felt at home before they ever moved into the office.

“The first two weeks were a settling-in period,” Lyon said. “But now, I am seeing my agents beginning to write deals. In fact, they are writing more deals now than they were two months ago. Of course, the market is improving, but I also believe that moving to Keller Williams has made a positive impact on us all.”