Aspen’s Mason Morse joins Coldwell Banker affiliate |

Aspen’s Mason Morse joins Coldwell Banker affiliate

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Two of Aspen’s oldest real estate firms merged Wednesday to create a company that its executives say is positioned to be the leader in sales in the Roaring Fork Valley.Mason Morse Real Estate merged with Coldwell Banker The Aspen Brokers, officials with both companies said. The new firm will be known as Coldwell Banker Mason Morse.”We think it’s a great tactical move for us,” said Bob Starodoj, the owner and CEO of Mason Morse, as well as the merged firm. Mason Morse has been a very successful, independent firm for 50 years. If it was going to grow, it needed affiliation with a national real estate company such as Coldwell Banker, Starodoj said.Mason Morse was bigger than a boutique real estate firm before the merger, but it wasn’t as big as Morris & Fyrwald Sotheby’s International Realty. “For us, we were kind of between,” said Will Herndon, president and COO of Mason Morse. He will hold the same positions after the merger.The merged firm has sales over the past 12 months that are second only to Morris & Fyrwald in the Aspen market. Morris & Fyrwald had a total sold volume of $504 million between Nov. 1, 2010, and Oct. 31, 2011, according to the Aspen/Glenwood Springs Multiple Listing Service. Mason Morse Coldwell Banker combined for $445 million total sold volume over that same period.Morris & Fyrwald had 17 percent of the market to Mason Morse Coldwell Banker’s 15 percent.The announcement of the merger was made Wednesday evening at Mason Morse’s 50th anniversary celebration. Starodoj, who has been with the firm since 1967, said it is one of the biggest milestones in the company’s history.Jane Moy, the former top executive of Coldwell Banker The Aspen Brokers, said the move is a “really good merger of resources.” Mason Morse is a great local brand; Coldwell Banker brings international name recognition and marketing, she said.”We thought it just made sense to merge and now we’re ready to go out and kick some butt,” Moy said.She helped found The Real Estate Brokers Ltd. in 1978, then started Coldwell Banker The Aspen Brokers in 1986. Moy had eight licensed real estate agents working for her prior to the merger. All were invited to join the merged firm.One of the real estate agents from The Aspen Brokers is Carrie Wells, perennially one of top two producers in the Aspen market. Moy will concentrate on real estate sales with the merged firm but she will still be involved to some degree in management, she said.Mason Morse had 52 full-time real estate agents before the merger. The physical merger of the offices in downtown Aspen won’t occur until later in the year.Starodoj said there were “casual talks” about a merger over the past 18 months. Morris & Fyrwald acquired the Sotheby’s franchise agreement in February 2009, making it the Aspen powerhouse. That was one of the biggest changes in the Aspen real estate industry in the aftermath of the recession, along with the scattering of top brokers from Coates, Reid and Waldron and the acquisition of the firm by Joshua & Co.Starodoj said the tougher times produced by the recession made him look more seriously at a merger. Since fall 2008, some firms have shrunk and even disappeared and some real estate agents are getting out of the business.”I don’t think in 2007 we were worrying about those things,” Starodoj said. “It made us examine who we were.”Moy said the talks intensified just in the last few weeks, in large part because Starodoj wanted the merger to happen as his firm turned 50 years old. “We worked day and night to make it happen,” she said.Officials with Coldwell Banker, the nation’s oldest real estate firm, were very supportive of the affiliation with Mason Morse, according to Moy. “They are very protective of their brand,” she said.Herndon said Mason Morse’s affiliation with Coldwell Banker will attract more sellers to list their property with the firm, expand the reach to potential buyers and make significantly more marketing tools available, especially social media.”We think Coldwell Banker is a great fit,” Starodoj