Two industry powerhouses Real Living ( and GMAC Real Estate ( announced Wednesday they are merging to create a residential real estate franchise with about $20 billion in annual home sales.

The move was set in motion late last year when Brookfield Residential Property Services (Brookfield RPS), a division of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., acquired GMAC Real Estate. Earlier this month, Brookfield RPS acquired Real Living Network Services, a subsidiary of Real Living Inc., and as a result will now rebrand GMAC Real Estate as Real Living.

Columbus, Ohio-based Real Living sold Brookfield the right to use its brand and technology across the rest of the U.S. and Canada. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the deal will affect 10,000 associates and 600 offices, giving Brookfield a total of about 30,000 associates in North America doing $50 billion in annual sales.

Brookfield apparently has no plans to alter the Royal LePage brand. Real Living says it won't alter its core real estate business in and around Columbus.

In Real Living, we found the ideal partner and brand for what we are hoping to accomplish with our real estate operations, which we are committed to building even further, says Graham Badun, managing partner & CEO of Brookfield Residential Property Services. We explored a number of options, including creating an entirely new brand from the ground up, but our customer feedback and research kept leading us back to Real Living. Both companies share many of the same core values and combined will be part of a bigger, stronger network of brokers and sales professionals.

We are thrilled to have Real Living as our flagship U.S. real estate brand, and welcome Real Living's 2,000 brokers and sales associates into Brookfield RPS' North American real estate network of almost 30,000 real estate professionals. We look forward to further expanding the size of our network by adding new franchisees that are truly looking for something fresh and different, and we are excited about the opportunity to take the brand to new markets internationally, Badun adds.

Badun also announced the appointment of Real Living's Harley E. Rouda, Jr., a longtime real estate industry broker, owner, operator and franchisor, as president of the newly combined operations.

Real Living was founded in 2002 by Rouda's father, Harley E. Rouda, Sr., who served as NAR president in 1991.

Real Living's technology platform has been recognized by Inman News as one of the best in the industry. The company has been named Most Promising New National Brand by The Swanepoel TRENDS Report, and Entrepreneur Magazine listed Real Living as one of the Top 50 New Franchises.

We brought a truly fresh approach to the industry earlier this decade when we launched Real Living as the first-ever consumer lifestyle real estate brand, and we will continue to do so by bringing new programs, services, support, training and technology, to our brokers and sales professionals, Rouda, Jr. said.

Source: Brookfield Residential Property Services, Financial Post, and Inman News (11/11/2009)