Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches, Realtor Association of Miami-Dade division ending as twin entities merge
By Yudislaidy Fernandez Florida's two largest realtor associations are merging into the Miami Association of Realtors and will emerge as the third-largest realty association in the nation. The competing Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches and the Realtor Association of Miami-Dade County become one Aug. 1, when the merger is made official for a combined almost 22,000 members. In the new association, Teresa King Kinney, who heads the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches, is taking the chief executive officer role. Martha Bullman, who's led the Realtor Association of Miami-Dade County for 18 years, said she's stepping down and won't be part of the new leadership. The historic merger came together in about a month, developing from discussions on how together the groups could provide more services, tools and resources and create a stronger voice, leaders said. The first merger meeting was June 24. "At that one meeting, we reached agreements on every major decision that needed to be made to go forward with the merger," Ms. King Kinney said. The associations' leaders "voted unanimously to go forward." A shorter name was picked to focus on the Miami brand. "That's the brand that recognizes our entire marketplace," she said, adding that's how international buyers recognize this market. The Keyes Co.'s Victor Ulloa, Miami-Dade association president, said members favored the merger because they know, especially in these challenging times in real estate, that "there is strength in numbers." The 21,726-member Miami association will push past Chicago, which has 12,460, as third largest US realtor association. The newly-formed group is just 264 members short of becoming second largest by passing the Long Island Board of Realtors, with 21,990, Ms. King Kinney noted. Houston tops the list at 22,780. Once the merger is final, members become part of the Miami association and then will pay a single annual fee, which she said won't increase. The two associations failed in merger talks in 1998 after nine months at the negotiation table, Ms. King Kinney said, but now the timing is right. "We have gotten so intermingled in the past two to three years, it's gotten to the point where they are us and we are them," she said. "It was the right timing and the right leadership," added Jack Levine, the Miami-Dade realtor association's treasurer, who'll chair the new association. With the merger, Ms. King Kinney said there'll be little staff duplication because each has different divisions and programs, plus double the membership equals more staff needed. Together, the group is to have locations in five cities: Miami Springs, North Miami Beach, Coral Gables, North Miami and Plantation. Coldwell Banker's Terri Bersach, current chair of RAMB's board, said the union will add value and benefit all members. "Combining tools and resources to do business, considering what our industry has gone through, will be able to empower members," she said. "All we've heard is positive comments from all the members, and everyone seems excited about it."