For the first time, Twin Cities-based HomeServices of America can call itself the biggest real estate company in the nation. That's according to an annual survey by REAL Trends that ranks companies based on the number of closed transaction sides.

During 2018, the company closed 346,629 residential transactions worth $136 billion, a 5.6 percent increase in sides compared with the previous year.

HomeServices claimed the top spot from longtime rival New Jersey-based NRT, which reported 337,235 transaction sides worth $176 billion. No. 3 on the list was Hanna Holdings, which had 83,043 transactions worth $16 billion.

HomeServices's growth was largely fueled by a year of "incredible growth and strategic expansion," Ron Peltier, executive chairman of HomeServices, said in a statement.

HomeServices of America, an affiliate of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, has nearly 44,000 real estate agents in nearly 900 offices across 30 states and the District of Columbia. It's the parent company of Twin Cities-based Edina Realty.

HomeServices acquires locally owned market leaders with well-known brands. Instead of rebranding those companies, HomeServices retains the company's name, image and leadership.

The company made several large acquisitions last year, including Ebby Halliday Cos., the largest privately owned brokerage by sales volume in Texas.

And in January, HomeServices of America expanded its presence in Florida with the acquisition of one of that state's top-five biggest brokerages.

In January, Gino Blefari replaced Peltier as CEO. Peltier became executive chairman. Blefari said in a statement that the company won't rest on its laurels.

"HomeServices is dedicated to continued growth both organically and through strategic acquisitions and we are committed to modernizing the home-transaction experience for buyers and sellers and the process by which our agents serve them," he said.

HomeServices wasn't the only Twin Cities company to make the top-10. Eden Prairie-based ReMax Results was No. 9 with 24,008 transaction sides and $6.6 billion in sales. Last year the company's biggest acquisition was ReMax Metro in Brooklyn Park.

ReMax has consistently ranked among the top-10 by sides. Last year the number of agents in the company remained static at about 1,100. It closed fewer transactions, but total sales volume increased.

ReMax owner John Collopy said he expects more growth in the coming year.

"I do have a couple things we're working on," he said.