New Orleans-based Latter & Blum Inc. has finalized a partnership with Van Eaton & Romero, a 250-agent brokerage based in Lafayette, La., boosting Latter & Blum’s size by 28 percent and making it one of the nation’s top 40 brokerages, the companies said.

Latter & Blum, which owns the C.J. Brown Realtors brand in Baton Rouge, La. and the Noles-Frye brand in central Louisiana, is now a 1,300-agent company spanning Louisiana and southern Mississippi, set to finish the year with $1.8 billion in total sales and 8,400 transaction sides.

"This newest alliance will lead to unprecedented financial strength, growth and breadth of service offerings," said Bob Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum, in a statement.

Van Eaton & Romero will retain its name.

"The technological, managerial, and strategic support coupled with the regional, national, and worldwide connections that we are gaining by becoming one of the Latter & Blum Family of Companies heightens our capabilities exponentially," said Van Eaton & Romero CEO Bill Bacqué.

Last year, Latter & Blum signed an agreement with Realogy Corp. franchisor ERA Real Estate, which made its three residential real estate brands the first "ERA powered" brokerages — they took on ERA Real Estate’s lead management platform and training and referral network but retained their own branding.

Latter & Blum ranked by Real Trends as No. 58 in 2011 of the U.S.’s largest brokerages with 6,324 closed transaction sides. The company has residential, franchise, commercial, property management, insurance and mortgage operations in Louisiana and Mississippi.

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