New Orleans-based Gardner Realtors, an 800-agent firm with 25 offices in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi, has dropped a decade-long affiliation with Prudential Real Estate and will look to Leading Real Estate Companies of the World to bolster its relocation and referral business.

The move, announced Thursday, took effect today. Norris Songe, Gardner Realtors’ president of financial services, told The Times-Picayune that the brokerage had seen a steady decline in relocation referrals from Prudential over the past five years.

Meanwhile, the company’s own investments in technology and analytical tools have reduced its reliance on the real estate franchisor, Songe told the paper.

President of operations Glenn Gardner — whose grandmother, Gertrude Gardner, founded the firm in 1943 — last week announced a joint venture with Prime Lending last week, called Service First Mortgage Loans, The Times-Picayune reported.

According to the company’s website, Gardner Realtors became affiliated with Prudential in 2001, when Gertrude Gardner Realtors merged with Prudential Louisiana Properties.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World claims to be the world’s largest network of independent real estate brokerages, with 550 companies and 140,000 associates in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Recent additions to the network include Santa Fe Properties (Santa Fe, N.M.),  Hilton & Hyland Real Estate (Beverly Hills, Calif.), Joshua & Company (Aspen, Colo.), and The Group (Ft. Collins, Colo.).

Last year, one of the largest residential real estate brokerages in Indiana — Realty Group Companies LLC — rebranded as Prudential Indiana Realty Group, signing a 13-year contract with Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services Inc. The 500-agent, 12-office company had been affiliated with Century 21 since its founding in 1980.

According to Prudential’s most recent annual report to investors, the company’s real estate and relocation services division generated $216 million in revenue in 2010, posting a $20 million profit for the year.

That was an improvement from the $60 million loss posted in 2009 and its $189 million loss in 2008. Losses for 2008 included a $117 million write-down of all of the goodwill associated with the real estate and relocation services division, reflecting deterioration of the U.S. housing market.

In its most recent quarterly report to investors, Prudential said its real estate and relocation services division racked up a $10 million loss during the first half of the year, despite generating $92 million in revenue. That compares to $3 million in operating income on $101 million in revenue during first half of 2010.

The decrease in operating income and revenue reflected the slower pace of sales and lower average home sale prices compared to 2010, when markets were still enjoying a boost from the federal first-time homebuyers tax credit program, the company said.

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