Realtors and lawyers, new bedfellows

August 9, 2002

Pru Atlanta starts title company with law firm

By Bridget McCrea
Inman News Features

While often at odds, Realtors and lawyers are becoming bedfellows, leaving title companies out in the cold.

The latest joint venture is between Prudential Atlanta/Georgia Realty and Atlanta-based law firm McCalla, Raymer, Padrick, Cobb, Nichols & Clarks. The brokerage, which has 25 offices and more than 900 sales associates in metro Atlanta and North Georgia, joined ranks with the law firm to form its own title company, Prestige Title Services.

A growing number of real estate brokers are sidestepping the local and national title companies and partnering with law firms to deliver title services. For brokers, it is a way to earn more on the transaction and not give away the customer to title companies.

Brokers also argue that there are consumer benefits.

Prudential Atlanta/Georgia Realty SVP Toni McGowan said the impetus behind the joint venture was simple: To create a one-stop shop real estate brokerage.

"The public finds the real estate transaction confusing, scattered and overwhelming," said McGowan. "We've done this to be more full service and to give buyers and sellers more confidence that their transaction is being handled by professionals in an easier more efficient way."

A number of real estate brokerages in Atlanta already have partnered with local law firms to form title service companies. The trend started about four years ago, and McGowan estimated that since then nearly half a dozen real estate brokerages have followed suit.

Atlanta-based Jenny Pruitt & Associates, Realtors, and Harry Norman Realtors have similar relationships with McCalla, Raymer, and local Coldwell Banker and RE/MAX operations also have formed their own title service firms with other law firms in the area.

Such partnerships are attractive in Georgia because in that state an attorney is required to close property transactions in which ownership interest changes hands.

Prudential Atlanta/Georgia Realty doesn't require agents to use the title service, but McGowan said it offers an added convenience. She wouldn't reveal the ownership structure of the new company other than to say it's a joint-venture partnership and a limited-liability corporation.

The new alliance isn't the first time Prudential Altanta/Georgia Realty has aligned itself with other companies to reach its goal of becoming a "full-service" firm. It has also partnered with HomeBanc Mortgage, Georgia Realty Insurance, All Connect, ADT Security and American Home Shield and most recently it signed an exclusive vendor agreement with Resale-ability, an Atlanta-based "one-stop" home services company.

Resale-ability helps home sellers stage, update and make minor repairs to their home to enhance its appearance in anticipation of a sale. The company also helps buyers update or personalize their new home before they occupy it. Resale-ability's five design centers are located in Shaw Carpet dealer showrooms in the Atlanta area. The company also offers in-house consultations.

Resale-ability President Michelle Krouss said the company arranges all bids and installation, which for most work is a guaranteed completion in 10 business days.

"We come to the home with a detailed cosmetic checklist assessment and discuss any improvements needed from furniture placement, clutter removal, to repairs such as new carpet, flooring, handyman services, fresh paint or even landscaping for added curb appeal if needed," she said.

Prudential Atlanta/Georgia Realty is an independently owned and operated member of the Prudential Real Estate Affiliates network.

Copyright: Inman News Service

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or [email protected].