Thursday, July 25, 2013

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway expands real estate arm through Florida brokerage

Local firm's focus on luxury market is good fit with billionaire's brand, CEO says
July 16, 2013 11:00AM
By Emily Schmall
Rei Mesa
Rei Mesa
The real estate arm of Warren Buffett’s empire has signed Prudential Florida Realty as its first brokerage franchisee, The Real Deal has learned.
Home Services of America, an affiliate of the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway, has plans to sign franchise agreements with nine brokerages nationwide, according to Kevin Ostler of HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage network.
“We focus on the luxury market, and I believe that the Berkshire Hathaway brand will resonate really well with those buyers and sellers,” Rei Mesa, who heads the renamed Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, told TRD.
The announcement comes as Berkshire Hathaway increases its stake in the U.S. housing industry, from building materials to distressed properties, following bullish public statements by Buffett.
“Homes are such an important part of the resources of most families,” Buffett said in a March video posted on YouTube. “We are in all aspects of housing and they’re all coming back strong.”
Berkshire Hathaway signed a joint venture agreement in October with Toronto-based private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management, which had purchased Prudential Financial’s real estate business in 2011.The deal gave Berkshire Hathaway a controlling interest in Prudential, which has 1,400 offices and 47,000 agents across the U.S.
The company’s other housing-related acquisitions include a brick manufacturer, a carpet company, the loan portfolio of the bankrupt mortgage lender Residential Capital and real estate brokerages in Oregon and Connecticut.
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