By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal business writer
After more than 100 years, the Akron Area Board of Realtors’ days are numbered.
Members of the Akron board voted by a wide margin Wednesday to merge with the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors.
Cleveland board members approved the merger in online voting that ended Wednesday.
The boards will be combined and renamed the Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors, effective Oct. 1.
Each organization has seen a decline in membership over the past 10 years. Fewer members means less dues, and merger proponents saw consolidation as a way to save costs.
The Akron Realtors group represents about 1,350 real estate brokers and agents, said Akron board President Tony DeLuke. That’s down from about 2,000 in 2000.
The outcome of the voting, DeLuke said, shows “people understood the reasons why we’re merging.”
The merger also will result in increased lobbying power at the state and national levels, said DeLuke and other area real estate agents Wednesday.
“We’ll become a stronger board,” DeLuke said, “with more clout as far as being able to lobby for the home sellers and buyers.”
Realtors nationwide have been vocal on a variety of home-ownership issues, DeLuke noted, everything from maintaining tax benefits associated with owning a home and strengthening the federally backed flood insurance program.
The combined organization will have more than 4,000 members and be the second largest board in Ohio. The Columbus board is the largest.
DeLuke declined to give a tally of the votes cast by the Akron board members at a meeting Wednesday at Guy’s Party Center in Akron. DeLuke said nearly 70 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the merger. More than 150 members were at the meeting.
“I think it’s going to be good,” real estate broker Candice Eberhardt told a reporter outside the party center on Waterloo Road.
“The Cleveland board has excellent continuing-education classes, and with everything they have to offer in the way of education, the merger will make us more informed for buyers and sellers,” said Eberhardt, with Eberhardt Realty and Management in the Wallhaven area of West Akron.
One real estate agent, who declined to give his name, said he feared a merger would result in concerns of Akron area agents taking a back seat to Cleveland-oriented issues.
Jim West, a past president of the Akron board, said some may feel nostalgic over the end of the Akron board. “But it’s progress,” he said. “We have to adapt to change.”
The Akron board celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
The current Cleveland board and Akron board offices will be retained, at least for a time. The Akron board office is at 799 White Pond Drive near Interstate 77 in Akron. The board leases space there from the Home Builders Association Serving Portage and Summit Counties.
A website promoting the merger notes that offices of the boards “may be consolidated at some point in the future, but both buildings are under lease through 2016.”
The statement, however, goes on to say, “It was clear that through merger members of both associations will have increased access to services through multiple locations.”
Both the Cleveland and Akron boards charge $190 a year for local dues. The fee for the unified organization is to remain the same in 2014. After that, the board of directors would set dues annually during the budgeting process, according to the website, www.akronclevelandrealtors.com.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.