The real estate landscape changed for David Peers 13 months ago, and the news was staggering. A real estate affiliate of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had bought the Prudential real estate agent network.
"It would have been national news, but it was overshadowed by Superstorm Sandy," he said. The news today is that Prudential First Realty's switch to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand kicks off with a get-acquainted luncheon with agents today. The switch is effective Thursday in Greater Des Moines, the first stop in Iowa in HomeServices of America Inc.'s efforts to assimilate the Prudential brand..
HomeServices of America Chairman and CEO Ron Peltier will be on hand to introduce the agency to 70 agents who work out of three offices in the metro area.
"It's been a long time coming. It's taken a lot of work," said Peers, general manager and chief operating officer of the residential company in Greater Des Moines.
On Friday, 700 Prudential First Realty yard signs will be replaced with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty signs.
"In that particular brand name there is strength, there is integrity and there is respectability," Peers said. "The Berkshire Hathaway brand just speaks volumes for success in any business."
HomeServices of America is the country's second largest residential brokerage. Buffett will have two real estate companies competing in Greater Des Moines. Iowa Realty Co. Inc., the largest residential company in the state, also is an affiliate.
Peers doesn't see a conflict.
"We're competing against all the other real estate brands," he said. "We have our own business plan, our own business philosophies, our own commission structures."
He does not anticipate the kind of conflicts over commissions that have erupted in court between Iowa Realty and a Keller Williams affiliate.
The Greater Des Moines market can stand the competition.
"The real estate market is very strong right now," Peers said. "We are seeing record sales. We're seeing increased selling averages, we're seeing decreased days on the market."
To top it off, "I truly believe we'll change the face of residential real estate in the Des Moines market. ... I really believe that people are going to want to have that sign in their front yard," he said.
First Realty has a long history in Greater Des Moines. It was launched in the early 1970s by Gene Stanbrough and later bought by Hubbell Realty Co. Later the company was sold to Iowa Realty, which ultimately fell under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella.