By Tom Bailey Jr.
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:36 p.m., updated February 2, 2011 at 10:51 p.m.
The venerable Coleman-Etter, Fontaine Realtors is merging into the city's largest agency, Crye-Leike Realtors.
"I know it's harder and harder for the small companies to be able to compete with the big ones," said broker Fontaine Taylor, who reached the deal Friday with Dick Leike and announced it to her staff and agents Tuesday morning.
"I wanted to give my agents the best tools they could have," Taylor said. "I have every confidence in Crye-Leike and Dick Leike and (Crye-Leike general manager Steve Brown). ... I felt like it was a good fit."
Majorie Coleman and Fran Etter, among the first women admitted to the local Realtors association, founded the firm in 1951.
Taylor joined them in 1981 and bought her partners out in 1984.
Coleman-Etter, Fontaine Realtors used the dignified, white-painted, wood signs -- with the blue silhouette of a city skyline -- that often were posted in front of high-end homes in Midtown and East Memphis.
Leike described Coleman-Etter, Fontaine's niche as the "old Memphis market. Central Gardens, East Memphis, Hedgemore."
Taylor said, "We've been thought of as sellers of the higher-end homes. We have done a wonderful job."
The agency has three staff members and about 30 agents, and all have been invited to join Crye-Leike.
Taylor, who will be a vice president at Crye-Leike, said she's looking forward to becoming a full-time real estate agent again.
The Coleman-Etter, Fontaine office at 651 Oakleaf Office Lane will close.
"Coleman-Etter, Fontaine has some good agents," Dick Leike said. "... Fontaine has something she can add to it all, too. My theory is it's two good companies, and we can come together and build a stronger company."
The recession has rocked the real estate world the past four years.
Even a behemoth like Crye-Leike, the state's largest agency, has shrunk from more than 1,200 agents to under 900 in the Memphis area.
"It's becoming more and more difficult to run businesses in this kind of economic times we're in," Leike said. "When you think about it, we're doing half the business we did in 2007."
-- Tom Bailey Jr.: 529-2388
Coleman-Etter, Fontaine Realtors is merging into Crye-Leike Realtors - The Commercial Appeal -Memphis
February 02, 2011