The owners of a large Boston-based brokerage, Re/Max Prestige, have abruptly ended the firm’s affiliation with franchisor Re/Max Holdings, rebranding their 14 offices and 280 agents as Laer Realty Partners.

Announced today, the launch of the new, independent brand — Laer is an acronym for “Local Agents, Extraordinary Results” — by owners Stacey Alcorn and Andrew Armata caught both agents and the Re/Max franchise region owner by surprise.

Alcorn and Armata, who bought Re/Max Prestige in 2000, want to expand the brokerage throughout New England — something they couldn’t do as a Re/Max affiliate because of competition restrictions set by the management of Re/Max’s New England master franchise region, Alcorn said.

Alcorn, who called Re/Max founder and Chairman Dave Liniger a personal mentor, said she has plans to grow Laer Realty Partners to be the biggest firm in New England in five years and then expand nationally. Currently, the firm has 13 offices within Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire.

“There just wasn’t enough opportunity to expand,” Alcorn said.

But Re/Max of New England, a Re/Max master franchise region owned by Re/Max Integra, claims Alcorn and Armata have broken their franchise agreement.

“We are disappointed that Re/Max Prestige has elected to breach their franchise agreements and withdraw from the Re/Max system, and we are reviewing appropriate next steps in this matter,” said Dan Breault, regional director of Re/Max of New England.

“However, our first priority is assisting the agents affected by this decision,” Breault said. “With more than 200 Re/Max-affiliated offices located throughout Massachusetts and New England, we are committed to working with the agents who wish to stay within the Re/Max family.”

(Denver-based Re/Max LLC owns and operates 10 of the 32 Re/Max master franchise regions in the U.S. and Canada. The other regions are owned by firms like Re/Max Integra.)

Breault would not comment about Alcorn’s allegation that Re/Max of New England’s rules stifled her firm’s expansion as an affiliate.

When Re/Max of New England found out about the firm’s decision to go independent today, it contacted all of Laer Realty Partners’ agents to say that it would work with them to find a way to remain Re/Max agents if they wanted to, Breault said.

Some former Re/Max Prestige agents, most of whom learned they were no longer part of Re/Max at a four-hour launch event today, were surprised to learn they were now working for a brokerage with new branding that had shed its affiliation with Re/Max.

“I’m a little shocked and overwhelmed,” said Deborah Noone, who had been with Re/Max Premier for four years. Noone says she received 750 business cards with the new branding, a business website, three listing signs, two open house sign riders, and a request from Alcorn and Armata to give them a chance and stay with the firm.

Noone also says she’s gotten recruiting calls from four nearby Re/Max offices today offering her a place to land if she wants to stay with Re/Max. As of now, she says she’ll remain with Laer Realty because she believes in Alcorn and Armata. But she’s concerned that the $400 annual membership fee she just paid to Re/Max will apparently be for naught.

In conjunction with today’s launch, the firm announced a $1 million regional TV and radio marketing campaign that will air Laer Realty Partners’ ads in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Laer Realty Partners will air the above video as part of its $1 million regional marketing campaign that launched today.

Brokerages affiliated with a franchisor, especially a large global franchisor like Re/Max, receive branding benefits, technology, referrals and leads that can be tough for an independent firm to replace.

Alcorn says that’s why the firm decided to launch its regional marketing campaign on the same day as the firm’s launch. Laer will also be investing in search engine optimization and Facebook ads to help get its brand and website in front of consumers, she said.

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