Minneapolis-based HomeServices of America, the behemoth behind-the-scenes real estate brokerage, has named a new CEO who will be charged with leading the company through an international expansion, the build-out of a new national search tool and the rollout of a national network of commercial brokerages.
The new chief executive, Gino Blefari, replaces HomeServices of America (HSA) founder Ron Peltier as CEO; Peltier will become executive chairman.
“I have no plans to go anywhere,” said Peltier, who on Tuesday was named the most influential person in real estate this year by an industry consulting firm.
HSA is an affiliate of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and the parent of major brokerages across the country, including Twin Cities-based Edina Realty. HSF Affiliates is an HSA subsidiary that operates the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Real Living Real Estate franchise networks.
Blefari, who is just one of several executives with a new title this week, will focus on managing several major initiatives including the planned acquisition of five major brokerages in the United States and the company’s nascent international expansion.
“I’m not retiring; he’s being brought in for reinforcement,” Peltier said. “This is all part of expanding the senior management team to make sure there’s sufficient management to help manage all of the growth in different directions.”
Two weeks into the new year, HSA is already hustling. Last week the company said it acquired one of the largest brokerages in Florida. Peltier promised four more major deals by the end of the year.
And following the recent opening of offices in London and Berlin, Peltier said Wednesday the company’s franchise network would open an office in Milan, Italy. He expects several more to be launched by end of the year.
“Our strategy is to have a franchise presence in all the major financial markets of the world,” he said.
In addition, the company is in the midst of one of its most significant ventures to date: construction of a technology platform aimed at better enabling buyers and sellers to access the services offered by HSA companies, including real state, mortgages and insurance in streamlined fashion that’s consistent in every market.
The goal, Peltier said, is to replicate the kind of search experience that’s now offered by Amazon.
“It will know before you know what you’re looking for,” he said.
Peltier said Blefari has “unique expertise” that will support these initiatives.
Blefari has already helped expand HSA’s franchise networks. He’s been in the real estate business for more than three decades and has had several key executive leadership positions at Century 21 Seville Contempo and NRT before founding Silicon Valley-based Intero Real Estate Services, which HSA acquired in 2014.
In 2015, Blefari became president and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based HSF Affiliates, which has a network of franchises that now includes nearly 52,000 agents in 47 states. Last year Blefari led Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ global expansion.
Blefari will remain based in Irvine and be actively involved in the franchise operations. He will be replaced as CEO of HSF Affiliates and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices by Chris Stuart. Allan Dalton will become CEO of Real Living Real Estate.
Peltier founded Home- Services of America in 1998.
Peltier was among several HSA executives who made the Swanepoel Power 200 list of most powerful and influential people in real estate. It included Blefari (No. 14) and Mary Lee Blaylock (No. 58), who is HSA’s president of the West Coast region. A handful of other Twin Cities real estate experts also made the list: John Smaby, president of the National Association of Realtors and a broker at Edina Realty was No. 51; Greg Mason, president and CEO of Edina Realty was No. 63; Brenda Tushaus, the recently named CEO of Eden Prairie-based ReMax Results was No. 97 and Joel MacIntosh, CEO of WolfNet was No. 146.