By Sarah Gray
May 3, 2018

A Warren Buffett-owned residential real-estate brokerage firm is now the second largest in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices name has been franchised to 1,330 offices and more than 45,000 agents, the newspaper reports.

In a letter to shareholders in February, Buffett explained how his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, got into the real estate business by default in 2000 when Berkshire bought the energy company MidAmerican, which owned HomeServices. He then slowly built up the company.

In 2017, HomeServices acquired Long and Foster, Houlihan Lawrence, and Gloria Nilson. The acquisitions were preceded by Berkshire Hathaway buying Prudential’s real estate agent network in 2012.

Overall, sales at Berkshire Hathaway—which includes 60 businesses like GEIGO, Dairy Queen and Duracell—grew 23% in 2017 from the prior year. Berkshire Hathaway’s real-estate brokerage division reported $220 million in profits in 2017, according to an annual report, down from $225 million in 2016.

“Despite its recent acquisitions, HomeServices is on track to do only about 3% of the country’s homebrokerage business in 2018,” Buffett said in the letter to shareholders. “That leaves 97% to go. Given sensible prices, we will keep adding brokers in this most fundamental of businesses.”

Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting will be this weekend in Omaha.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify which part of Prudential Berkshire Hathaway purchased.

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