Coldwell Banker Keeps It in the Family for Return to Valley

WARREN, Ohio – Coldwell Banker is making its return to the Mahoning Valley after a 15-year absence, and the international real estate firm has enlisted the Stevens family to lead the charge.

On Thursday EvenBay Real Estate co-owners Janice and Michael Stevens announced the company has become a franchise of Coldwell Banker. The couple has a long history with Coldwell Banker, dating back to Janice’s mother, who owned the area’s previous franchise. And it was at that office that the two first met.

The couple founded EvenBay – now officially named Coldwell Banker EvenBay Real Estate – five years ago and has grown the company to include 20 agents at offices in Boardman and Howland. They co-own the agency with Forrest Kobayashi.

“It was us believing in them and Coldwell Banker believing in EvenBay Real Estate. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be here today,” Michael Stevens said. “And they believe in the Mahoning Valley too. That was the most exciting thing: they’re just as excited about the opportunity in northeast Ohio as we are.”

The Stevens’ return to Coldwell Banker, he added, takes the agency “to the next level.

“We talked to several companies and we decided that if we were going to do it, it was going to be with the biggest and best,” he said. “We are going to expand in multiple counties. We’re going to expand in size with our agents. We’re going to expand our technology. We’re going to be able to service everybody with the most professional agents this industry has to offer, right here in northeast Ohio.”

With more than 3,000 offices worldwide, becoming a Coldwell Banker franchise opens up more connections to institutional knowledge and the resources the company offers, Janice Stevens said, which in turn can draw in more buyers and sellers.

“It’s a great opportunity to refer things back and forth across all parts of the country and around the world,” she said. “It’s a well-known name, even though it hasn’t been in the area for about 15 years. Bringing that back, people know the name and even though it’s competitive out there, it gives an edge that I think sellers and buyers will be drawn to.”

Among those resources is a new suite of marketing tools, which will be overseen by Michael and Janice’s daughter, Megan Kovacich, who’s joining EvenBay full-time after serving as a consultant with the agency occasionally in the past. 

“A lot of times, my [previous] job was to develop strategy and assets and everything else. Coldwell Banker gives us all of that at our fingertips,” she said Thursday morning at EvenBay’s company onboarding meeting with Coldwell Banker. “They’ve created all of that for us, so it’s up to us to go in and elevate our brand more than we’ve ever done before. The tools and resources are absolutely amazing.”

Megan Kovacich, speaking, discusses the new marketing tools available to EvenBay Real Estate as a Coldwell Banker franchise.

The first EvenBay TV ad with the new Coldwell Banker branding was set to air Thursday night during the Major League Baseball playoffs. Down the road, there will be work done to improve the online presence of both the agency and its 20 agents, Michael Stevens said.

“They just rebranded their marketing. One of our fears was people having the idea of that legacy Coldwell Banker, but it’s really the farthest thing from that,” he said. “They’ve rebranded and added new, young, energetic leadership. They’ve revamped their tools and are strong on Facebook and the internet.”

Now that the months-long process of becoming a franchise is wrapped up, EvenBay’s next – and ongoing – challenge is generating sales in a competitive market. Low inventory continues to be the main obstacle, Janice and Michael Stevens agree, causing buyers to have to move quickly when the property they want comes on the market.

“They’re few and far between, so when they come on the market, they get multiple offers and sell immediately,” Janice Stevens said. 

Added Michael: “I could go on and on naming reasons why the market is the way it is – the lack of inventory, the demand, the economy, all those issues. We also see a generation issue right now, with larger homes and a lot of downsizing going on.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.