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HomeServices moves into Northeast

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA
  • Star Tribune
  • April 11, 2012 - 8:32 PM

HomeServices of America is putting down roots in the Northeast with the acquisition of Prudential Connecticut Realty, one of the largest brokerages in Connecticut and a key competitor in a new market for the company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Minneapolis-based HomeServices, owner of Edina Realty and the second-largest real estate company in country, is in the midst of an aggressive national expansion. Including this deal, HomeServices has 26 brands and more than 16,000 employees in 20 states.

Prudential has more than 50 offices in Connecticut, making the acquisition HomeServices' biggest in more than five years. The purchase is an important step in the company's efforts to establish a nationwide presence.

"I've been courting and nurturing this relationship for many, many years," said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices.

Prudential Connecticut is based in Wallingford, Conn. The deal also includes Prudential Rhode Island Realty, which has two offices.

In 2011, Prudential Connecticut had $2.5 billion in sales, making it one of the top 50 brokerages in the country.

Though the housing market is showing signs of improvement, deals of such magnitude are rare these days. Steve Murray, publisher of RealTrends, a real estate research and publishing company, said that could change in the coming months because there are so many cash-strapped regional brokerages that are easy targets for national brokerages looking to gain more market share. HomeServices is in a particularly good position to take advantage of those buying opportunities. The company is an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, is debt-free and able to pay cash, as it did for Prudential Connecticut.

More deals in the hopper?

And it won't be the last deal for HomeServices this year. Peltier said he's planning at least a half-dozen major acquisitions, including brokerages in other parts of the country where the company doesn't have a presence. Already this year, HomeServices has made three major acquisitions, including the expansion into the Pacific Northwest with purchases in Washington and Oregon. The company is also pursuing acquisitions in markets where it already has a presence.

Home buyers and sellers in Connecticut will barely notice the change. Prudential Connecticut Realty will retain its name and local leadership. HomeServices typically does not rebrand brokerages after an acquisition, part of its long-running strategy to capitalize on local brand recognition.

Prudential Connecticut is a well-known brand in the Northeast, where its chairman, Peter Helie, has worked in real estate for more than four decades. He'll continue in his role as chairman and CEO, as will President Candace Adams, who is in charge of running the day-to-day operations of the company.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

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