Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Combined Group Sees Strong 2015

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Combined Group Sees Strong 2015

Article excerpt

Sarasota and Manatee county Realtors look to benefit from their united organization and a stronger market

STAFFORD STARCHER WORKED his way through the executive committee ranks with an eye on becoming president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors in 2015.

Then things got a whole lot bigger.

"You just sort of plan as you go, and all of a sudden we had this little merger," he said. "It changed what my year was going to be, and changed it very positively."

On Jan. 1, the real estate groups in Sarasota and Manatee counties formally combined into the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

As president, Starcher now leads an association with 5,500 agents and 525 business partners, which were formerly known as affiliates.

Members voted to approve the merger in September. Supporters promoted the combination with the slogan "We are stronger together."

Starcher now says of the two groups: "We are together, and we are stronger."

"We have been selling real estate in one metro market for a long time, and that really did help facilitate the merger," he said. "People ask how far is (a particular property) away from the beaches, not if it is in one county or the other."

With the merger, members will benefit from having "north and south" association offices in Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota, where they can more conveniently get lock boxes or pick up signs, he said.

The group also plans to open a "service center" in West Bradenton later this year, so members who focus on that area don't have to trek miles to Lakewood Ranch to take care of business, he added.

While the merger came together relatively smoothly, the two groups did have a false start when it came time to pick a new name.

Originally, the combined group planned to call itself Suncoast Realtors Association. But many felt "Suncoast" implied a larger geographic area, so a name was selected that specified the two counties alone.

Starcher, a real estate agent who teams with his wife, Linda, works out of brokerage firm Re/Max Alliance Group in Sarasota.

That company's co-owner and president, Peter Crowley, was the 2014 president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors, and agent Sherry Grooms was last year's president of the respective Manatee Association. …

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