Metro Brokers gets new name

Atlanta-based Metro Brokers, with more than 2,000 agents, has joined Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, the companies announced Monday.

Metro Brokers signed a long-term franchise agreement with the Parsippany, N.J.-based company for the residential side of its real estate business. The company will now be known as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

The arrangement with Metro Brokers adds approximately 2,400 agents and more than two dozen offices to the franchise, which is in 12 other states.  Signage will be the only visible change.

Metro Brokers also acquired two other real estate companies Monday, Lakes and Mountains Realty, in Rubin, Ga., and ERA United with offices in greater Atlanta. The acquisition will add approximately 150 people.

“This is just a sign of the times,” said Jim Crawford, an associate broker with REMAX Greater Atlanta. “Consolidation, repackaging and rebranding, that’s what is going on now.”

Crawford said real estate outfits are doing what they can to stay in business in a down market.

Metro Brokers was founded in 1979 by John Hartrampf. The current president and chief executive, Kevin Levent, worked as an agent in the 80s and 90s before taking the helm in 1996.

In 2001, Metro Brokers signed a franchise agreement with GMAC Real Estate, and under that umbrella the company became the largest real estate license holder in the state and saw sales volume exceed $2 billion in 2004.

The transition from GMAC to Better Homes and Gardens was a necessary one, said Levent. He said the new direction of GMAC Real Estate, since it had been sold, was not one he was comfortable with. He said the most recent owners were not well known and had plans to change the GMAC name, which would likely not be recognized by potential customers.

Levent said the commercial real estate division of Metro Brokers has joined Coldwell Banker Commercial and will now operate as Coldwell Banker Commercial Metro Brokers.