Longtime Hudson Realtor merges with Howard Hanna

By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal business writer

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Gail Royster, owner of Royster Group, LLC, has soldher real estate agency to to Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

Longtime Hudson Realtor Gail Royster wanted to keep selling houses, but was weary of all the other chores that came with owning her own real estate agency.

So she sold to real estate powerhouse Howard Hanna.

The deal allows her to keep her Royster name on signs, and turns over what she felt was tedium to someone else.

“I’ll be able to focus exclusively on my clients,” Royster said. “This gives me the opportunity to relieve myself of operational responsibilities,” such as payroll and accounting.

Royster’s business is now operating as part of Howard Hanna out of the Hanna office at 122 N. Main St., across from Hudson’s village green.

Royster’s three agents and an office administrator also made the move to the Howard Hanna facility.

Royster Realty Inc. — now the Royster Group LLC — had previously been in a building at 126 W. Streetsboro St.

Hoby Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Ohio and Michigan, and Royster declined to reveal financial terms of the deal. Hoby Hanna said it was “fair market value.”

Hoby Hanna said his company had long competed with Royster and thought highly of her small agency’s ability to capture a relatively large market share in the Hudson area.

“Gail and all her agents really have a great customer-service focus,” he said.

Royster Realty recorded 35 home sales, totaling more than $8 million, last year.

Hanna said he first asked Royster about buying her agency seven years ago.

“We’d sort of make the annual call, and she would ceremoniously tell me she wasn’t interested,” Hanna said. “I guess persistence pays off.”

Royster said late last year she contacted Mary Brennan, Howard Hanna’s Hudson branch manager and a company vice president, and said “the door [to sell] may be open a crack.” Negotiations began shortly thereafter.

Royster said the deal gives her group access to the advertising and other resources of a big player in the market: “We have total autonomy under the umbrella of the huge and very successful Howard Hanna company.”

Royster, long involved in Hudson area civic activities, started in the residential real estate business in 1976. She opened her own agency more than 20 years ago.

“I started out with Smythe Cramer, which was ultimately purchased by Howard Hanna, so I’m sort of back home in a way,” she said.

Hanna said Howard Hanna has acquired about 45 real estate companies — big and small — in the past 15 years. In 2008, Howard Hanna bought the assets of its largest Ohio-based competitor, Realty One. That followed the 2003 acquisition of Ohio’s Smythe Cramer, another large competitor.

Howard Hanna, headquartered in Pittsburgh, calls itself the fourth-largest real estate brokerage in the country.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.

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