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Lakewood Prudential still open for business

Prudential Palms Realty President and CEO Helen Sosso said she will trim her business to about 80 agents. File photo.
Prudential Palms Realty President and CEO Helen Sosso said she will trim her business to about 80 agents. File photo.
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — A well-known Sarasota real estate broker will be focusing her attention on her Lakewood Ranch venture as her company consolidates several offices in Sarasota County.

Helen Sosso, one of the most prominent residential real estate brokers in the Sarasota-Bradenton market, has slashed the size of her business.

Sosso, president and CEO of Prudential Palms Realty in Sarasota and Prudential Lakewood Ranch in the East County, will downsize her firm to capture more market share through the implementation of technology. It’s a plan that has been in development for some time, she said.

“I’ve been trying to migrate to this model for 24 months,” Sosso said. “But I didn’t have the group of people to support it.”

The reborn Prudential Palms in Sarasota will be run out of two offices downtown instead of seven spread throughout the county. The Lakewood Ranch presence, meanwhile, will continue as is. Although she holds the titles of president and CEO, Sosso does not have an ownership stake there and holds only a minority ownership stake in Prudential Palms Sarasota.

The combined operations will have about 80 agents. At its peak, the firm had nearly 200 agents and employees. Five offices — Longboat Key, Siesta Key, St. Armands Circle, downtown Sarasota and South Sarasota County — will close.

“I’m eliminating offices that weren’t making any money,” Sosso said. “Real estate doesn’t have to be done in offices.”

Originally, Sosso considered shutting down completely the Sarasota operations and only running the business out of Lakewood Ranch to focus on East County sales. However, she met with several Sarasota agents in recent days about the closure, who convinced her to give the new model a chance in both locations.

The Prudential Palms contraction created a buzz in the real estate community. In a statement released Aug. 22 through Grapevine Communications, Sosso addressed rumors that the firm faced deeper financial troubles. She stated the firm has “no plans to file bankruptcy.”

Sosso acquired Lakewood Ranch Realty in late 2009.

“I just thought Lakewood Ranch is a phenomenal place,” Sosso told the East County Observer at the time of the sale. “It’s a city, and what developer doesn’t want to be able to build a city? It’s over 30,000 acres and has virtually every use you can think of.

“It’s a phenomenal developer’s story,” she said. “They had a master plan for the whole development (before it was built). ... It’s the type of product that every developer and builder wants to be a part of.”

Sosso previously ran a residential realty firm in Pittsburgh. She opened her first real estate office in the region in 2002.


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