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Frank Howard Allen Realty sold

SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY has acquired the two Frank Howard Allen real estate offices in Sonoma. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY has acquired the two Frank Howard Allen real estate offices in Sonoma. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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After 103 years of business in the North Bay, family-owned real estate company Frank Howard Allen Realty announced it has sold its offices to Sotheby’s International Realty and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

At a companywide meeting at its Marin Office on Tuesday, Oct. 26, Frank Howard Allen owner Larry Brackett told his staff that all 17 offices had been sold, effective at 12:01 a.m. Coldwell Banker acquired 13 Frank Howard Allen offices, including all offices in Marin County and offices in Petaluma, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Kenwood. Sotheby’s International Realty acquired the remaining offices – two in Sonoma, one in Glen Ellen and one in Napa. Both Sotheby’s International Realty and Coldwell Banker are part of the nation’s largest real estate firm, NRT, LLC.

Frank Howard Allen was founded in 1910 in Marin County by Frank Howard Allen Jr. and closed $1.85 billion in real estate sales last year, according to NRT. Brackett and his wife bought the company in 1989. It is regarded as one of the largest real estate firms in the North Bay and has been named among the top 60 firms in the country, based on sales in Real Trends 2013 list of the 500 largest brokers.

According to Corrie Sterbentz, Frank Howard Allen’s regional manager in Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Napa, who will become a local manager at Sotheby’s International Realty, the company could not sell offices to Coldwell Banker in Sonoma because of a local Coldwell Banker franchise. Sotheby’s International Realty was another strong suitor, she said, and, with its powerful presence in the Valley, a natural choice.

“Sotheby’s International Realty is highly regarded,” Brackett said in a prepared statement. “The company has a strong, far-reaching platform, and its name opens doors to clients across the country and across the globe. We believe that our agents and clients will experience tremendous benefits from the enhanced regional and global presence.”

While financial terms relating to the acquisition were not disclosed, Sterbentz said all 300 Frank Howard Allen employees would keep their jobs through the transition and operate under the new companies (Brackett will work in an advisory role at Coldwell Banker).

In a press release, a Sotheby’s International Realty spokesman said Frank Howard Allen’s 16 sales associates in Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Napa would join its 28 sales associates, with the combined teams representing more than $460 million in sales volume in the past year.

Thirty-year Frank Howard Allen realtor John Duran, who works in Santa Rosa, said it’s hard to tell what this acquisition will mean in the long run, but it will be a big change from working for a relatively small regionally-based company to working for a mega national corporation. Duran, who explained rumors about Frank Howard Allen being up for sale had been circulation for years, says the biggest adjustment comes not in working under a new name, but working with new management in companies with different cultures. He also noted that real estate business is “hard business,” so he and his colleagues are working to mitigate any extra challenges during the transition.

Frank Symons, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Sotheby’s International Realty’s Western Region, noted Sotheby’s International Realty company culture and expertise make it an ideal fit for Frank Howard Allen agents. “Their (Frank Howard Allen) agents are well known and deeply respected in the area, and we are confident that we will greatly benefit from their talents and knowledge,” he said. “At the same time, they will gain opportunities to increase their business through all of the advantages offered through our international brand.”

Sterbentz said she and her colleagues in the Valley are “very happy to be part of a company with such a strong name and presence.” That opportunity, she explained, will allow Frank Howard Allen agents to have an opportunity be part of a larger organization and have greater access to all of the resources that come with working for a company with global presence.