PLAINS TWP. — Two realtor associations will soon join forces to create a larger, county-wide group called the Luzerne County Association of Realtors.
The combining of the Greater Wilkes-Barre and Greater Hazelton realtors’ associations comes as the Wilkes-Barre group celebrates 100 years in existence.
Charles Adonizio III, insurance broker and founder of Atlas Realty, Inc. in Pittston and president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Realtors Association, said the merger has been underway since the beginning of the year.
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Association of Realtors was formed in 1915 and serves all of Luzerne County.
The decision to merge was voted on and approved by Greater Wilkes-Barre Association of Realtors committee members. Adonizio signed the paperwork to officially change the name on Oct. 1, exactly 100 years after the association was formed.
“We were formed Oct. 1, 1915 and the same day, we’re starting the new association,” he said. “It’s the last day of our 100 years as the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association of Realtors, and the first day of our next however many years as the Luzerne County Association of Realtors.”
Adonizio stated the Greater Hazleton group was unable to meet certain criteria required by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which, according to its website, represents over 1.1 million residential and commercial real estate agencies.
“(The NAR) requires the associations to meet certain criteria to keep up with their franchise like the number of agents, the level of service, the education — all of these are requirements to keep the franchise going,” said Adonizio. “Well, Hazleton was having trouble because they were on the smaller side, only having about 125 members, and were having trouble keeping up with all the requirements of the National Association of Realtors. It was suggested that they not renew their association status and that they look for a merger partner.”
Adonizio said Greater Hazleton searched for other merging partners in places like Scranton and Schuylkill County, but elected to go with Greater Wilkes-Barre to remain in Luzerne County.
Adonizio stressed the Greater Wilkes-Barre Realtors Association is not buying out the Greater Hazleton location.
“What we’re doing is just taking over their territory in what is called a ‘jurisdictional merger,’” he said. “It’s happening right now and most, if not all, of the Hazleton members have joined our association. Basically, they wound down their operations and joined ours. In a sense, we haven’t absorbed them, just taken over their territory.”
While the merger is not complete, Adonizio expects everything will be finalized by the end of October. Greater Hazleton Realtor Association employees will continuing working out of the Hazleton offices.