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Main Street Realty ends 33-year run, merges with Beverly-Hanks

fr mainstreetMain Street Realty, one of the oldest and last remaining independent real estate firms in Haywood County, is closing its doors this month. But it isn’t going far.

Main Street Realty is merging with the regional real estate powerhouse Beverly-Hanks and Associates Realtors. While the Main Street Realty team will only be moving two blocks to their new home — they don’t even have to cross Main Street — it is a game-changer in the local real estate landscape.

After a 33-year run, Main Street owners Marty Prevost and Ann Eavenson said Beverly-Hanks offers the marketing expertise and online presence that’s become necessary as the real estate industry has evolved. Meanwhile, Main Street Realty brings a stable of well-known Realtors with deep community ties into Beverly-Hanks’ ranks.

Beverly-Hanks is growing from 22 real estate agents to more than 30 with the addition of Main Street’s team — putting it on track to become one of the largest firms in Haywood County. 

If there’s any behind-the-scenes jostling over choice desk space or prime parking spots as the two staffs merge, it wasn’t apparent during a Monday evening social mixer between the two firms.

“Everybody in this room at some point in time was the new guy,” said Neal Hanks, president of Beverly­-Hanks and Associates, as the newly joined office mates toasted their future together.

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Hanks said the quality and reputation of Main Street Realty’s agents would be a tremendous asset. Rather than pose in-house competition for Beverly-Hanks’ existing team, Main Street Realty’s agents will bring their own listings, own buyers and own accounts to the table.

“The pie just gets bigger. We are combining their market share with our market share,” said Brian Cagle, the managing broker of the Beverly-Hanks Waynesville office.

Main Street Realty has been an institution in the real estate world of Haywood County, tacking calm and steady no matter how wildly the winds whipped. When the market soared, Main Street Realty remained modest. And when it crashed, Main Street remained steadfast.

The real estate firm has been an important anchor in the Main Street business community for three decades and was known for its civic contributions.

“They are part of the fabric of this community,” Cagle said.

Prevost and Eavenson have witnessed huge change in the industry since they first opened their doors in 1982. There were fewer than 50 Realtors in Haywood County then. Now there are around 250 — down from a peak of about 350 during the real estate boom.

There are not only fewer Realtors working the market now than a decade ago, but there are markedly fewer real estate firms as well. Only a handful of smaller, independent firms remain in the market. Most are now affiliated with national franchises.

The attrition of firms isn’t necessarily due to the economy or the real estate crash, however.

“Consolidation is a trend in our industry nationwide,” Hanks said. Real estate companies face the same business realities that have prompted consolidations and mergers of everything from hospitals to car dealerships: economies of scale, Hanks said.

“It’s harder for smaller companies,” he said.

Main Street Realty is the third independent real estate firm Beverly-Hanks has absorbed since moving in to Haywood County.

Beverly-Hanks first opened an office in Waynesville 10 years ago, during the height of the real estate boom. 

It was the new kid on the block at the time. Back on its home turf in Asheville, Beverly-Hanks had been an industry leader since the mid-1970s. But it needed a presence in Waynesville, the gateway to expanding its market reach to the west.

Beverly-Hanks bought one of the most architecturally significant and impressive buildings in the Main Street shopping district — the old First Citizen’s Bank building — making a statement that it was settling in to stay.

The giant four-story building was bought with an eye toward growth, but that growth has been slow coming given the cool real estate market over the past seven years.

Hanks said the real estate market in Haywood has been slower to rebound than the Asheville area but has now reached the turning point.

An uptick in real estate transactions recorded through the Haywood County Register of Deeds is a testament to a rebound in the making.

The total dollar value of real estate sales recorded in Haywood County has increased 35 percent in the past 12 months, compared to the same 12-month period the year before.

• $217.5 million in real estate sales were recorded from July 2013 to June 2014.

• $300 million in real estate sales were recorded from July 2014 to June 2015.

“We have been really busy in here, so it is definitely due to an increase in volume as well as some larger sales value-wise,” said Sherri Rogers, the Haywood County Register of Deeds.

Cagle said with the market on the mend, Beverly-Hanks plans to add even more Realtors over the coming year.

As Prevost and Eavenson considered their options in the evolving real estate landscape, Beverly-Hanks was the best philosophical match.

And its Main Street location, just two blocks down from their longtime office, was the clincher. After working on Main Street 33 years, Prevost and Eavenson didn’t want to part with the sense of place that comes with working downtown.

Both Prevost and Eavenson said they will miss running their own company, but they are also looking forward to what they called “a new adventure.”

Prevost and Eavenson were in their early 30s — and the mothers of young children — when they started Main Street Realty in 1982. It was pioneering for women, let alone young women with children, to be entrepreneurs at the time.

“We didn’t have enough sense to know better,” Eavenson joked.

Getting real estate listings came naturally, as they drew on their church connections, civic clubs and groups, social circles, family ties and their children’s school networks.

“We both grew up here and we knew a lot of people,” Eavenson said. “There’s nothing I would have rather been doing the past 30 years.”

And it’s that sense of longevity and commitment that made Main Street Realty an attractive proposition for Beverly-Hanks.

Merging with Beverly-Hanks took some soul searching, however.

“We have only thought about this for two years,” Prevost said, when asked whether it was a hard decision.

They valued their independence, but it became increasingly tough to keep pace with rapidly changing technology. A slick, high-performance website is critical as real estate has moved to an online platform.

“It was time to totally revamp and redo our web site or go to plan B,” Eavenson said.

Prevost and Eavenson aren’t planning to retire but will join Beverly-Hanks along with the rest of Main Street Realty’s team. The hardest part of giving up their business will be trying to pack up an office they’ve occupied for 33 years.

“We are paper people and they are paper-less,” Prevost said of Beverly-Hanks. Somehow, she’s got to slim down her huge bank of filing cabinets to just two desk drawers by month’s end when the move is complete.

“That will be a huge adjustment,” she laughed.

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