Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties, a local realty firm owned by Broker Fred Elliott is celebrating a milestone in its business and has recognized several of its agents at a celebration luncheon.
The firm at 1400 Homestead Rd. is celebrating its 35th anniversary. It is one of the largest realty firms in Lehigh. The community has about 10 or so real estate forms, but Elliott said that during the boom years, there were several more that shut down when the economy went south.
"But we have continued to do business throughout the years with our dedicated agents. There have been challenges but we have put our customers, the homebuyers first, and we have come through the rough times.
Jean Sims with Fred Elliott.
"We are proud to be able to say we have been in business for 35 years and our sign out front on Homestead attests to that fact," Elliott said.
Today, Elliott said there are 35 agents and support staff people at Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties, and each is a plus to the business, he said.
Elliott went to work as a Realtor for the firm in 1990 when there was one building on Homestead Rd. Today, there are four, three adjoining offices and one across the street.
The business was owned by Neal and Estelle O'Sullivan from New Jersey who today are winter residents of the area.
While Elliott and his agents have witnessed the downturn in the economy and have seen the number of foreclosure peak, he says he believes the real estate market has leveled off and is coming back and now is a great time to purchase a home.
Many of the real estate agents have been with the firm for more than 24 years and they were given special recognition with an attractive glass trophy at the luncheon.
Those with the longest years of association with Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties include Jean Sims with 30 years, Duane Firestone with 29 years, Sandra Roman with 25 years and Lynne Brantley with 24 years.
Sims said it was like a big family working with the staff at the realty firm and other Realtors agreed.
Elliott said he moved to Lehigh Acres in 1984 and when he went to work as a Realtor, the population of Lehigh was around 18,000 people. The last U.S. Census puts the population at more than 85,000.
Elliott said he remembers buying his first home in 1984 and his mortgage payment was $212.50 a month.
The appreciation banquet celebrating 35 years of business in Lehigh was celebrated on March 15 at the Majestic Golf Club in Lehigh.
Elliott and Carrie Chase, an assistant to Elliott in the office, prepared the awards recognition program at the luncheon.
"It was really a milestone for us and we were happy to honor the people who have helped to make us successful," Elliott said.
Jean Sims, who has been with firm for 30 years, said the experience has been a good one over the years.
"The reputation is good here. Everyone works together and we treat our clients with respect. The community is more diversified now and there are bigger challenges today, but we have a good team and we are like a big family,"
Sandra Roman, another Realtor who has been with the firm for 25 years said the reason she likes working at the firm is because of "its stability and the respect the firm and its employees have for this company.
"We are a big family, and everyone who works here will agree," she said.
Elliott is active in his community and has come to be regarded as a businessman with integrity.
"The real estate business has been through some challenging times. We have been here to help homeowners in any way we can. Today is a good time to purchase a home and I see the leveling off of the local real estate economy. Things are moving upward.
"Homebuyers with credit can come to us and we will work with them in fulfilling their dreams of home ownership. We have lenders who are willing to work with us and we will do our best to make the experience of purchasing a home a good one," Elliott said.
Having been in business for more than three decades shows that we serve our customers the people of Lehigh well and we are here to put the customer first," said Carrie Chase, Elliott's assistant. She is also active in the community and especially the recent Relay for Life for cancer held two weekends ago.
"And while the firm was here before the economy and has continued through the hard times shows that Coldwell Banker is strong. It is interesting that when the hard times came, the realty firms that sprung up are now gone.
"We're back to the solid community of realty companies that were here before," she said.