On March 24, 2008, the 4,500-square-foot Longboat Key branch of Prudential Palms Realty office opened. At the time, the branch, located at 2 Ave. of the Flowers next to the Longboat Key Publix, housed 30 agents. Prudential Palms Realty founder and CEO Helen Sosso told the Longboat Observer that her company had signed a five-year lease for the office.
Now Sosso, a prominent residential real-estate broker in the Sarasota-Bradenton market, has slashed the size of her business.
Sosso, who runs Prudential Palms Realty in Sarasota and Prudential Lakewood Ranch in east Manatee County, will downsize her firm to capture more market share through technology.
“I’ve been trying to migrate to this model for 24 months,” says Sosso. “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, says Sosso. At its peak, the firm had nearly 200 agents and employees. The five offices in Sarasota that will close are on Longboat Key, Siesta Key, St. Armands Circle and in downtown Sarasota and south Sarasota County.
“I’m eliminating offices that weren’t making any money,” Sosso told The Observer. “Real estate doesn’t have to be done in offices.”
Sosso says she leaned toward totally shutting down the Sarasota operations and only running the business out of Lakewood Ranch, to focus on east Manatee County. But 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 local real-estate community. In a statement released Aug. 22 through her public relations firm, Grapevine Communications, Sosso addressed rumors that the firm faced deeper financial troubles. She says the firm has “no plans to file bankruptcy.”