Edina Realty parent adds another firm to the fold

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA
  • Star Tribune
  • January 28, 2013 - 10:35 PM

HomeServices of America continues its national expansion with the recent purchase of Prudential Gaslight Realtors, a small Missouri brokerage.

It's the second acquisition of the year for Minneapolis-based HomeServices, which plans a record number of deals in 2013. The transaction is also an important step forward in the company's recently announced plans to develop a new national real estate brokerage.

HomeServices -- the parent company of Twin Cities-based Edina Realty -- is owned by a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Co. Berkshire announced plans late last year to build a franchised brokerage that capitalizes on the credibility of the Berkshire Hathaway name.

"Our goal is to grow HomeServices' brands through the ongoing sales and marketing process, as well as through strategic acquisitions similar to this one," said HomeServices CEO Ron Peltier.

Blue Springs, Mo.-based Gaslight has already been rebranded as Prudential KC Realty. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the brokerage will continue to serve buyers and sellers in Kansas City, Mo., and beyond. In that same market, HomeServices already owns Reece and Nichols Realtors, the leading local brokerage.

Wayne Minear, the former broker/owner at Prudential Gaslight Realtors, praised the deal. "This a win-win for our customers and our associates," he said.

Peltier also said that while the purchase is a small one for the company, it's a critical part of the company's strategy to expand its regional presence and to proceed with plans to build a new national brand. Peltier said Prudential KC will join upwards of 15 brokerages later this year in the launch of a new national network of franchised real estate companies that will bear the Berkshire Hathaway name.

Details of that plan were unveiled in late October, when HomeServices said it had formed a partnership with Brookfield Asset Management to help create that new franchised network called Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; the new entity will be operated in conjunction with the company's existing brands and affiliate networks, including Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate. Those two networks alone have operations in more than 1,700 locations in the U.S. while HomeServices has a presence in 21 states.

At the time of the acquisition, Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, said he was "confident that these partners will deliver value to the residential real estate industry."

With home sales on the rise and the prospects for an enduring housing recovery, the residential brokerage industry is poised for a year of significant mergers, acquisitions and expansions. Steve Murray, publisher of RealTrends magazine, said he expects an "unprecedented" number of deals to happen this year.

That's true for HomeServices of America, the second-largest real estate holding company in the nation. Peltier said he expects to announce another four to five acquisitions this year in addition to the two that have already happened during 2013.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

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