By Joe Tash
Americans are quite familiar with the names of billionaire Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, and his investment company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Now, the Berkshire Hathaway name will be even more visible in San Diego County, and throughout Southern California and the central coast, as it will be found on “for sale” signs on luxury properties.
As of Monday, Sept. 23, an established California real estate firm has taken on the prestigious company’s name. Prudential California Realty, which has been owned by HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary since 2002, became Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.
The name change and new signage were unveiled Sept. 23 at an event held at one of the company’s listings, a $7.5 million, 11,970-square-foot property on Rancho Del Mar Trail in Carmel Valley.
“We’re the first ones to be able to use that brand name in the real estate world. It’s quite an honor,” said David Cabot, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. “It’s a unique opportunity.”
With its headquarters in Carmel Valley, the company has a network of 62 offices and 3,200 agents in Southern California and the Central Coast.
Many of those agents have been with the company for a substantial portion of its 20-year existence under the Prudential California Realty banner, said Cabot.
Attending the Sept. 23 event along with Cabot, agents, clients and community members were Earl Lee, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC, and Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices.
California Properties focuses on the luxury market in such areas as Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, said Cabot.
“We’re primarily a luxury real estate company in Southern California and we have been for two decades,” Cabot said.
That reputation includes status as one of the top five real estate brokerages in the nation, according to the company. In 2012, the company closed nearly $11 billion in sales and handled more than 14,000 transactions.
The high-end home market has improved substantially over the past 18 to 24 months, along with the overall real estate market, Cabot said.
“The luxury market is doing very well,” he said. “The majority of the value lost in the recession has returned in both mid-level houses and high-end houses.”
Although the high-end market in Los Angeles recovered more quickly than in San Diego, the local area has since caught up, and is now on par with both Los Angeles and Orange County, Cabot said.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Realty is a full-service agency that offers — along with its real estate services — home loans, escrow, title and insurance.
“We’re a one-stop shopping experience for our clients,” he said. “A client can walk into one of our offices… and they never have to go anywhere else.”
Cabot is a 29-year veteran of the California real estate business. He began with Merrill Lynch’s real estate arm, then worked for Coldwell Banker before moving to Prudential, where he served as broker of record, and also as president and CEO.
By emphasizing the Berkshire Hathaway name, California Properties taps into a global brand, established by a powerhouse that has holdings in a number of different industries, from insurance to energy to real estate to media. Among the well-known companies that come under the Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway umbrella are GEICO Auto Insurance, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Dairy Queen and See’s Candies.
Cabot stressed that the company will continue to offer the same services with the same staff.
“The only significant change is the name on the door,” he said. “Everything else is exactly as it’s always been.”
He predicted the real estate community will quickly warm to the new name. California Properties is the first to take on the Berkshire Hathaway name, but the company plans to make similar changes at brokerages across the nation over the next year. Some will be company owned while others will be franchises.
“I think it changes the field of real estate forever,” Cabot said.
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