Cumberland County realty firms merge
Two Cumberland County real estate firms have joined forces hoping to expand their business in the commonwealth's fastest-growing county.
South Middleton Township-based Hooke, Hooke & Eckman Realtors LLC announced this week that it has affiliated with Hampden Township-based Keller Williams of Central PA.
Hooke, Hooke & Eckman is a family-run independent brokerage that has a long history serving the Carlisle-area real estate market.
The owner of Keller Williams of Central PA, Keith Sealover, said the merger will combine his 65 agents with about 35 at Hooke, Hooke & Eckman. He called the deal a "market disruptor."
Sealover declined to disclose the terms, but said Keller Williams will keep the Carlisle-area office of Hooke, Hooke & Eckman. Its signs will change over the next two weeks to Keller Williams, he said. Hooke, Hooke & Eckman's owners also will move into leadership roles at Keller Williams.
Real estate consolidations have become fairly common in Central Pennsylvania as companies look to become one-stop shops for real estate services or to extend their sales territories.
Larger real estate companies aligned with big franchise brands such as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Coldwell Banker, or giant family-run operations like Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, routinely acquire or partner with smaller independent companies.
Smaller companies can find it hard to compete with deep-pocketed national brands that can spend more to promote listings and drive sales leads.
Matt Madden, president and broker for Hooke, Hooke & Eckman, said the affiliation will give his agents better tools more quickly to serve clients. The company also has been looking to grow on the West Shore and the owners felt the move to Keller Williams was the best way to do that.
"While we have had great success and enjoyed being independent, affiliating with KW means we are able to expand our reach under a globally known brand," he said. "Our agents will have expanded tools and resources available through KW that will provide the ability to serve our clients at a higher level now, rather than building those systems independently over time."
The two companies first started talking about working together five years ago, Sealover said. Talks picked up again over the last year.
Sealover said adding a company with a stronghold in the Carlisle area will help Keller Williams develop new relationships with homebuilders to sell more homes.
With large-scale housing development starting to slow in the high-growth Cumberland Valley townships of Silver Spring and Hampden, developers and Realtors expect residential development will push west toward Carlisle.
"We're getting built up here (in Hampden Township)," Sealover said. "That growth has to go out to other extremities."
Cumberland County saw its population rise by 6.2 percent between 2010 and 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, making it the fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania this decade.