East San Francisco Bay Realtor boards approve merger under Contra Costa Association banner

Members of Contra Costa County associations set to vote on proposal

The boards of directors for two Realtor associations in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay region have approved an agreement to merge, subject to a membership vote to begin at the end of the month.

The combined 3,500 or so members of the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Contra Costa Association of Realtors and Richmond, Calif.-based West Contra Costa Association of Realtors will vote on the merger during a window that opens Oct. 27 and closes Nov. 11. If approved, the trade groups will officially join forces on Jan. 1, 2014, under the Contra Costa Association of Realtors banner.

The merger plan comes nearly a year after the trade groups completed an association management services agreement that provided many CCAR products and services to WCCAR’s nearly 500 members, including CCAR technology products and other resources, the trade groups said in a statement.

These products and services included professional development training, an online store, networking events, insurance benefits, free laptop repair, a market statistics tool, and customizable websites.

A merger would “considerably expand” the list of products and services available to WCCAR members, the groups said. This includes access to CCAR’s multiple listing service, to which incoming WCCAR members will be invited, but not required, to join.

“It’s a logical next step and the right thing to do for our membership,” said Michele Manzone, 2013 president of WCCAR, in a statement.

“The current association management services agreement with CCAR has brought a great deal of value to WCCAR membership very cost-effectively. Now we’re taking the opportunity to move to the next level and provide even more services and benefits, as well as long-term value and stability to WCCAR members.”

WCCAR is currently one of the five shareholders of MLS cooperative East Bay Regional Data Inc. (EBRDI). The WCCAR board has announced they will not be renewing their service center agreement with EBRDI at the end of the year, and the board has requested that their shares be purchased back by EBRDI, though any changes in status would not occur until Jan. 1, 2014, CCAR told Inman News. Manzone declined to confirm CCAR’s statements regarding WCCAR’s relationship with EBRDI.

In a statement, Robin Dickson, 2013 president of CCAR, said the services agreement had “established seamless workflow” between the two associations. With its implementation, WCCAR’s staff, which previously stood at three full-time employees and one part-time employee, was reduced to zero, CCAR spokesman Mark Appel told Inman News. One of the previous employees was then hired as a full-time employee by CCAR to man WCCAR’s Richmond office along with other CCAR personel, he said.

Sheiren Diaz, CCAR’s CEO, now also holds the title of  executive vice president of WCCAR, but that title will go away with the merger and Diaz will be CEO of the combined organization going forward, Appel said. WCCAR’s previous EVP, Jeff Wright, actively participated in the transition period before his departure, according to Appel.

Merger image via Shutterstock.
Merger image via Shutterstock.

A merger would expand CCAR’s coverage area to the West Contra Costa County cities of Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, El Sobrante, El Cerrito, Rodeo, San Pablo and Crockett.

“CCAR will continue to operate the WCCAR office in Richmond for the foreseeable future and will maintain a physical presence in Richmond for at least two years,” Appel said.