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Coldwell Banker brokerage sold

January 14, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office was acquired this week by two local real estate professionals who say they will bring new divisions and a more localized focus to Washington County's leading residential brokerage.

The new owners are lifelong Washington County residents Clarence Horst, who developed and managed the office since its inception in 1995, and Brian Flook, owner of Power Marketing & Advertising Inc., a national real estate marketing firm based in Hagerstown.

The office previously was part of NRT, a subsidiary of Realogy Corp., which operates hundreds of brokerage offices across the United States under the Coldwell Banker brand and other names.

Now called Coldwell Banker Innovations, the Hagerstown office will operate as an independently owned franchise of Coldwell Banker, Horst said.

The new owners plan to expand the brokerage by adding commercial and new home divisions, Horst said. Flook's marketing firm focuses on new homes and he has written a book about new home marketing, he said. They also hope to expand their market geographically, increasing sales in West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania, Horst said.

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Horst said local ownership will allow the company to be more reactive to changes in the market and will help with the company's goal of driving Tri-State area residents to its Web site.

The word "Innovations" in the business name reflects the creativity the new owners hope will give them an edge in a changing field, Horst said.

"Real estate has changed," he said. "People don't need us for data like they used to."

With many home buyers and sellers turning first to the Internet, Coldwell Banker Innovations will focus on driving searchers to its highly personalized site, then connecting them with a high-quality trained sales force, Horst said.

The office will remain at 1850 Dual Highway and retain its current sales associates, he said.

The Hagerstown office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has led Washington County in both number of residential sales and total dollar volume since 1997, Horst said.

"We're looking at an opportunity to launch us forward, to keep that strength and even move it farther along," he said.

Horst said he sees real estate as moving into a "spring market" and is counting on low interest rates and low prices to kick-start sales after the market slowdown.

In the first few weeks of January, Horst said he has seen an increase in the number of people interested in buying homes.

"It's been really refreshing," he said.

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