Latter & Blum acquires Lake Charles firm

Latter & Blum has acquired Lake Charles-based ERA Moffett Realty Inc., making it the first independently owned New Orleans-based residential real estate firm to enter the Lake Charles market.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

ERA Moffett has been in business for almost 42 years and has more than 40 agents, said Stephen Waring, a spokesman for Latter & Blum. For the first half of the year, it has been the second-largest real estate firm in Lake Charles, with a 24 percent share of the market.

The acquisition increases the size of Latter & Blum’s residential operations to 29 offices with more than 1,400 agents in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Bob Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum, said the ERA Moffett deal, along with the 2012 acquisition of Lafayette-based Van Eaton & Romero, positions the company to benefit from the growth going on in southwestern Louisiana, caused by the billions in industrial construction projects.

Rick Haase, president of Latter & Blum, said population shifts and rising property valuations caused by the industrial projects will generate significant opportunities for the company’s agents and clients.

“Both Latter & Blum and ERA Moffett Realty have a long tradition of serving the real estate needs of the energy sector,” Merrick said. “I’m very excited about what the future holds for our company and agents.”

The transaction continues Latter & Blum’s strategy of acquiring established real estate firms that have a dominant position in regional markets. In 1995, the company purchased C.J. Brown Realtors in Baton Rouge and in 2009 it purchased Noles-Frye Realty in Alexandria.

The company will do business in Lake Charles under the name ERA Moffett Realty, Latter & Blum Inc./Realtors ERA Powered.

“Looking into the future of the residential brokerage business, we believe that being part of a regionally dominant, well-respected brand will best position our people for success for the long term,” said Judy Moffett, manager of ERA Moffett Realty. “This alignment with Latter & Blum allows us to capitalize on the growth in our market.”

Latter & Blum, which was founded in 1916, is one of the 40 largest real estate firms in the U.S. based on unit sales. In 2013, the company had more than $2.92 billion in home sales.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.