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(Enlarge) Deborah SeBour, who said this Sulphur Spring Road office was once that of the doctor who took her appendix out when she was 12, and her husband, Bruce, started the new year by reorganizing their independent real estate company in Arbutus into a RE/MAX franchise. (staff photo by Matt Roth)

The current lull in the real estate market is the right time to make a move, according to one local couple with longtime ties to the area's real estate market.

Deborah SeBour said she and her husband, Bruce, have decided to reorganize their small, independent real estate company on Sulphur Spring Road in Arbutus into a RE/MAX franchise.

"When things are down, you invest in yourself," she said. "You work on keeping your roots established and letting people know you're there."

She said the decision to franchise now came because they've always seen slow times as opportunities to adapt and grow.

The couple's independent company, Real Estate Investments LLC, will continue to operate as well as serve as a parent operation to the RE/MAX office, which was to open Jan. 5, SeBour said.

The office will continue to be located in a house on Sulphur Spring Road that backs up to the parking lot of Arbutus Town Hall.

The SeBours have owned the building for years and renovated it for the opening of the new office, which will be called RE/MAX New Beginnings. The office will serve Arbutus, Catonsville and Elkridge, as well as surrounding areas such as Violetville.

Deborah SeBour, who turned 50 on Christmas Day, said the couple saw turning their company into a RE/MAX franchise as "the next stage in our life."

It is also the latest of many business transitions the couple has made since entering the local market in 1989. That year, the SeBours started GFL Plumbing and Heating out of their Catonsville home.

Deborah SeBour worked from a desk in the family laundry room while Bruce SeBour, a master plumber, worked on new homes, which seemed to be popping up everywhere during the 1990s, and rehabbed older homes.

"Back in the 90s, we were helping to build 100 homes a year," Deborah SeBour said.

Then the market slowed -- drastically.

"By 2003, we were only doing 10 a year," she said.

In 2005, the couple stopped focusing on plumbing and formed their real estate company.

Having grown up in the area -- Deborah graduated from Catonsville High School and Bruce from Lansdowne High -- both were familiar with the neighborhoods as well as the residents, Deborah said.

That helped them get established.

Although the housing market is slow right now, the SeBours said they are confident it will turn around.

"It can only go up from here," Bruce SeBour said.

And when it does, they'll be ready, Deborah SeBour said.

Aside from Deborah, the company has three agents: the couple's daughter, Jessica Clausen, of Catonsville; Candice Titus, of Catonsville, and Dan Drechsler, of Arbutus.

Deborah's sister, Linda Hood, of Catonsville, serves as an administrator for the company.

The SeBours are looking for a part-time receptionist, and are in the process of recruiting more agents.

Eventually, the company may have as many as 15 agents.

Deborah SeBour said she plans on organizing an informational event at Arbutus Town Hall in late February for area residents to learn about the state of the market and the services the company can provide.

The SeBours hope to work with the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, which provides loans to businesses looking to grow in Arbutus, in order to raze their current space and build a new office on the site.

"We just want to become part of Arbutus," Deborah SeBour said. "Every day is a new beginning."

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