Payson's increasingly lackluster real estate market has claimed a 16-year-old victim: Morgan Realty Associates Better Homes and Gardens will close its doors in early January.
"Business is down tremendously," said co-owner Jill Morgan, who is also the president of the Central Arizona Board of Realtors. "We're down $70,000 in gross income and about $45,000 in profits, which is a lot, and that's straight out of my pocket."
Morgan and her husband and co-owner, Wayne, will begin merging their business and listings with the Payson office of Coldwell Banker Jan. 5.
"This change will have no effect whatsoever on how we'll be doing business," Jill Morgan said.
In addition to the radical slowdown of home sales in the area, Morgan said there are a number of other reasons for the decision to close up shop.
"The entire Better Homes and Gardens real estate franchise was bought out by GMAC Real Estate about a year and a half ago, and they told me I could keep the name Better Homes and Gardens for five more years. But I got a letter in April saying, 'As of November, you've got to change your name to GMAC'which to me sounds like a car loan company. I did not want to do that."
In the meantime, two other nearby businessesFounders Bank and JB's Restaurantclosed down.
"Both of those were good sources of business; our walk-in traffic was always our bread and butter. But without them and because of the town's sign regulations, which didn't allow us to put any signage on the highways it made our location very difficult."
The Morgans were also contacted by Compass Bank, which owns the commercial building the Morgan's occupy. "They said there was a good chance the building would be sold and our lease would not be renewed. So it just seemed like one stumbling block after another."
The business was opened at its existing location at 104-A E. Highway 260 in 1985 by Morgan's mother, who sold it to Jill and Wayne in 1994.
"It's just one of those things," Morgan said. "I really don't understand why the market is down so badly ... except maybe the town has made it so difficult for people to come in here and build their dream homes, like they used to. Most of the folks we talk to get discouraged when they hear what it takes to build a home, pay the impact fees, deal with all the difficulties of putting a regular septic system in. It just gets harder and harder."
As of Jan. 5, Jill and Wayne Morgan can be reached 474-2216, or in person at Coldwell Banker, 715 S. Beeline Highway in Payson.