New franchise brand known as Berkshire Hathaway Home Services created

By Kathy Day

Look for the Berkshire Hathaway name to join those in the local real estate market.

A new franchise brand known as Berkshire Hathaway Home Services will bring Del Mar-based Prudential California and Rancho Santa Fe-based Real Living Lifestyles under the new banner.

The joint venture, announced Oct. 30, unites HomeServices of America, an affiliate of Warren Buffett’s Omaha, Neb.-based company, and Brookfield Asset Management, a global alternative asset manager with a Residential Property Services division that includes Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate.

Leann Iacino, chief operating officer of Prudential California, said the venture is particularly significant since it is the first time Berkshire Hathaway has given its name to one of its subsidiaries.

“We feel it is the biggest game changer in residential real estate in decades,” she said. “There is no better name in business.”

The transaction follows existing industry models of real estate companies having a number of different brands under a single banner. Prudential and Real Living affiliates can retain their respective brands for the length of their franchise agreements, some of which extend through 2024, according to Caroline Underwood, a spokesperson for HomeServices. They also have the option to switch over sooner.

No changes in leadership at Prudential California’s Del Mar office or Real Living’s local operations are anticipated and there will be no impacts on the local agents, Underwood said.

Steve Rodgers, CEO and president of Real Living Lifestyles which operates eight offices in San Diego County, said his company will retain its name, but now will be known as a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

In the case of Prudential, which has more than 25 offices in the county, Iacino said they “will co-brand both company names” for an unspecified period of time.

In a press release, Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said, “I am confident that these partners will deliver value to the residential real estate industry, and I am pleased to have Berkshire Hathaway be a part of the new brand.”

The joint venture will be based in Irvine.

Iacino said that local agents’ reactions have been extremely positive given the stability of the Berkshire Hathaway name.”

She and Rodgers both noted that their clients stand to benefit from the distinctive luxury brand, stability, integrity and international exposure the Berkshire Hathaway name brings. The venture will also give agents more access to sales tools, including social media sites and global networks, through the combined strength of the companies, Iacino added.

Rodgers also said that because of the combined companies’ strengths in the relocation market, Real Living will “benefit in a big way.”

Brookfield is known for its real estate franchising experience while Irvine-based HomeServices brings its operational expertise to the table, Bruce Flatt, CEO of Brookfield Asset Management, said in the press release announcing the new franchise brand.

More than 53,000 Prudential and Real Living agents across the U.S. will join the more than 16,000 HomeServices agents as the new brand is rolled out.

In San Diego, Real Living Lifestyles will bring about 400 agents to the mix, while Prudential California adds about 1,000 agents.