Crye-Leike Merges With Coleman-Etter, Fontaine

SARAH BAKER | The Daily News

Crye-Leike Realtors Inc. continues to expand its standing as the largest real estate firm in the Mid-South area by merging with longtime Memphis-based Coleman-Etter, Fontaine Realtors.

The decision was finalized Friday, and Fontaine Taylor, president and broker of the company, made the announcement Tuesday to her team. Taylor will remain a broker, but will now be a vice president of Crye-Leike and will also do sales.

“She’s going to sell and manage because her people are coming with us,” said Dick Leike, president of Crye-Leike. “I don’t know how many are going to come, but those that come, I want them to feel as comfortable as they possibly can.”

Founded in 1951, Coleman-Etter is among the oldest residential real estate brokers in the Memphis area, with about 30 agents. Crye-Leike is the sixth-largest firm in the U.S., with just fewer than 900 agents.

“You’re always looking to grow, but you’re also looking to align yourself with good associates or good agents, and no question, Coleman-Etter, Fontaine going back almost 60 years has built a fantastic reputation over the time period,” Leike said.

Coleman-Etter’s current office at 651 Oakleaf Office Lane will close and the staff and brokers will have the option to move to any of Crye-Leike’s 18 locations in the city. The South Perkins Road Crye-Leike office is close to Coleman-Etter’s current location.

Current economic times provide both firms with an opportunity for reposition, Leike said.

“It’s been tough,” Leike said. “It’s an opportunity that we’ve always wanted, but now we have an opportunity, so we’re taking advantage of it. I think it’ll be a great alliance. What we’ve got now is some good, experienced people with a good reputation and we’re adding them to ours.”

Merging realty firms are becoming increasingly more common in a declining market. In December, locally owned Kendall Haney Realty Group announced its merger with Austin, Texas-based Keller Williams Realty Inc. – the second-largest real estate firm in the Mid-South.

Kendall Haney, broker and owner of Kendall Haney Realty Group, will remain as principal broker of the new operation, Keller Williams Downtown Convenience Center, and will focus on growth of the Downtown and Midtown markets.

It wasn’t the only example. The Memphis market’s shaky conditions became evident in January 2009 when the realty offices of RE/MAX on the River and RE/MAX at Mallard Creek closed their doors, forcing about 42 agents to seek employment elsewhere.