Citing real estate market woes, Coldwell Banker Orcas Island closes shop

On Saturday, May 31, Coldwell Banker Orcas Island closed the doors of the historic church manse it occupied on North Beach Road in Eastsound.

Martha Warachowski, temporary designated broker for the business, made the tough decision on Monday, May 26, when plans to continue the business under the brokership of longtime Realtor Harvey Olsan and management by Realtor Jeff Miles (temporary designated broker) fell through.

“The real estate market is a big risk – there’s nothing selling now,” said Warachowski. “With the expenses of running a business, it just wasn’t covering it.”

“It’s an extremely difficult decision for me,” said Warachowski. “Had I been able to follow in my mother’s footsteps, we could have survived this, but it’s just too much.”

Warachowski’s mother, Patricia (Pat) Pomeroy had been Broker-Owner of Coldwell Banker Orcas Island for 12 years until her death last December.

“My first duty is to my mother’s estate,” said Warachowski. “My desire was to sell the business and still have it be a viable entity as Coldwell Banker Orcas Island Associates with all the blue sky Mother had brought to that name.

“But when it came right down to it, the real estate decline is a trend, and you have to have some serious money backing you.”

Warachowski had worked at the office for six years, from 1995 to 2001.

During those years, Pomeroy had been elected Realtor of the Year by the Orcas Island Association of Realtors and won the Peter Fisher award for Fair Housing.

More recently, Pomeroy completed a refurbishing of the offices in the historic Victorian building which had served as the church minister’s manse when the Community Church was located at the building next door. Between the years 2003-2006, Coldwell Banker Orcas Island (CBOI) led the Association of Realtors in first or second position in the number and price of properties sold.

That doesn’t soften the blow to Warachowski or the Realtors remaining at CBOI – Jeff Miles and Anna Roseberry.

Warachowski said, “I trust Jeff implicitly and Anna completely stepped up to the plate there – anybody would be lucky to have either one of them working for them.” Miles’ plans are still unclear, and Roseberry plans to work for Offshore Realty.

Warachowski said that Steve Buck of Coldwell Banker San Juan Island had considered buying the business, but decided that “it didn’t make good business sense to stretch across the islands.”

CBOI leased the building from DGO LLC, a corporation headed by Susan and Wally Gudgell, Jr.. It was known as the Land Office Building when Rich Exton started it. It became Orcas Realty Associates, doing business as Coldwell Banker Orcas Island, in 1994, and in 1997, Pomeroy took over as Owner-Broker from Jay Hagland.

A number of the island’s successful realtors had been mentored at Coldwell Banker Orcas Island.

“Mother prided herself on honesty and integrity and being the best person you could be and she instilled that in others. People responded or they were out the door,” said Warachowski.

On June 7 the office will conduct an estate sale of the supplies, equipment and furniture in the building.