After 17 years of renting, a local Realtors group has taken its own advice and bought a home.

Last weekend the Bakersfield Association of Realtors moved into 2300 Bahamas Drive, a 10,000-square-foot building that's more than 50 percent larger than its previous offices at 4800 Stockdale Highway.

The irony was not lost on association President Scott Tobias, who acknowledged that it's "probably a good thing" that the group is now an owner not a renter.

"We did have to get a bit of a loan to do the tenant improvements, but our payments are a lot less than what we were paying to lease. So that's one benefit," he said, adding that future Realtors will one day own the building "free and clear."

He and association CEO Linda Jay said the group has long wanted to own but needed to make sure the timing was right.

The last time association members seriously considered buying was during the recent real estate boom. So in retrospect, their hesitance paid off: Prices had come down quite a bit by the time the group signed final papers nearly two years ago.

"We've been saving up for all these years and now we own our own building again," Jay said.

The association advocates for the local real estate industry, supporting private property rights and promoting high ethical and professional standards.

The last time the association owned a home, a much smaller place on 18th Street, was in the mid-1990s. Tobias said the group simply outgrew that space.

Jay said the new place, which will accommodate nine full-time employees and one part-timer, has a great community room and a room for training. That means the association will no longer have to rent space for professional development at nearby hotels.

Tobias said he didn't want to say too much about the internal issues that hindered making a purchase earlier. But what sealed the deal when it finally happened was communication, he said.

Jay said the property looks like a good investment.

"As Realtors, that's what we do. We deal in properties," she said. "It seemed like the right thing to do."