San Diego Business Journal

Two San Diego residential real estate agencies have merged, creating a single firm with nearly 1,000 agents.

Ascent Real Estate based in Bankers Hill has merged with Coldwell Banker West.

The combined firm will operate under the Coldwell Banker West name, with Peter Mendiola retaining his position as president and Penny Nathan, president and CEO of Ascent, becoming a partner.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With 14 offices throughout San Diego County, the combined brokerage projected that it would have annual sales topping $2.5 billion.

Coldwell Banker West reported sales of about $1.5 billion in 2018 and Ascent reported sales of about $850 million in 2018.

Nathan founded Ascent in 2005 and had eight offices with nearly 150 agents.

“We’re keeping all of our offices and hopefully, all of our staff will stay with us,” Nathan said.

She said she first thought of merging her firm with another about 10 years ago and again five years ago but she wasn’t ready to make the move.

This time, merging seemed like the right move because the larger firm created through the merger will be able to acquire and take advantage of new technology that’s emerging in the real estate industry.

“The time is right for our company and our agents to take the next step in their careers because our industry is undergoing dynamic changes,” Nathan said. “Technology is changing every industry. I think we’re going through a technological revolution like the industrial revolution. We’re retooling as you will.”

A growing trend is for smaller agencies to join forces with bigger ones to get economies of scale in acquiring and deploying the new technology, including the use of artificial intelligence, she said.

“I see what’s going on in our industry. I feel I’m still ahead of where the consolidation, mergers and acquisitions are heading,” Nathan said. The trend is for “In the future, larger and stronger brokerages will be in a better position to serve top-selling, productive agents and their clients.”

Coldwell Banker West was an apt choice because it has a similar culture, she said.

“It’s very much the culture I built into Ascent,” Nathan said. “It’s not about selling them a house, getting them to buy. It’s being their fiduciary, being involved in their lives and being there when they need advice.”

Coldwell Banker West was founded in 2007 with six offices and more than 800 agents.

“I think our companies were very similar so the natural thing is to try to grow together,” Mendiola said. “It definitely creates a powerhouse agency for sure.”

The merger also broadens the agency’s reach.

Previously, Coldwell Banker West focused on South County, East County and downtown San Diego.

Mendiola said Coldwell Banker West “caters to all kinds of clients.”

“We sell the most million-dollar homes. We also cater to first-time home buyers,” Mendiola said.

Similarly, Nathan said Ascent sold everything from an $80,000 mobile home to an $8 million house.

“You have two locally-owned real estate companies that are driven by the same passion,” Nathan said.