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Berkshire Hathaway real estate comes to ABQ

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bhtwoA national buzz in real estate soon will arrive in the Albuquerque metro area with the switch of Prudential All Star Realtors and Prudential New Mexico Properties, residential brokerages with common ownership, to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand.

“It’s a big name that’s gotten a lot of national attention,” said Jim Pitts, president and managing partner of the two brokerages. “It’s coming to New Mexico.”

Berkshire Hathaway is the flagship conglomerate of Warren Buffett, nicknamed the “Oracle of Omaha” for his decades-long run of beating the returns of benchmark stock indexes with his investments. With Buffett’s blessing, Berkshire Hathaway has been rolled out as a real estate brand.

“Clearly, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand has instant consumer and corporate recognition,” said Earl Lee, CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based HSF Affiliates, which operates the BHHS brand as well as the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate brands.

Prudential Financial Inc.’s sale of its real estate division in 2011 to a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary set the wheels in motion for the gradual disappearance of the Prudential Real Estate brand and the emergence of BHHS.

“This is a pretty unique opportunity where you’re converting a well-established brand, Prudential, into a new brand with equal gravitas and stature within the industry,” Lee told the Journal.

Conversion to the Berkshire Hathaway brand is not automatic for existing Prudential franchises. HSF has a vetting process that involves financial disclosures and background checks for franchises to ensure they properly represent the Berkshire Hathaway name, he said.

“It was a very intense process,” said Pitts, whose silent partner in the Prudential franchise is veteran local mortgage lender Greg Frost.

When they acquired the Prudential All Star and Prudential New Mexico franchises in separate deals last year, Pitts said they were aware the BHHS brand was coming.

The now sister brokerages have five offices in the metro, nine employees and about 200 Realtors, who work in a contract capacity.

The official conversion is scheduled for May 13, when the blue-and-white Prudential signs with the Rock of Gibraltar logo will be replaced by the “cabernet-and-cream,” or burgundy and light tan, BHHS signs with an old-school, seal-style logo.

The now-combined All Star and New Mexico franchise and Prudential Enchanted Lands Realtors in Roswell will be the first in New Mexico to make the conversion, although more are expected to follow suit.

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