MARCO ISLAND — It would be prudential to remember this name: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Realty.
Effective Oct. 1 Prudential Florida Realty is affiliating with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (BHHS). The Florida arm of the company, with 40 offices in the Sunshine State, will be known as Berkshire Hathaway. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of developer WCI Communities.
And there’s one more name to remember in conjunction with this partnership Warren Buffett. The longtime CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for the town in which he inexplicably chooses to live, is ranked among the world’s most influential people by Time magazine, and Berkshire Hathaway was ranked number one in Barron’s 2013 listing of the world’s most respected companies.
George A. Percel, managing broker of the company’s Marco Island real estate office, said that associating his firm with such a positively viewed corporation and its legendary leader is a highly positive step.
“Just having the name Berkshire Hathaway gives people a lot of faith. With this affiliation, we’re working under a highly respected brand,” said Percel. For him, the most auspicious element of the change is the effect on the agents and employees of the company.
“The most important thing to me is that the people working in this building are happy and enthusiastic about this change,” he said. “This gives us a rebirth, a revitalization.” Between real estate agents and support staff, a total of 75 work in the office, a traditional full-service real estate brokerage.
The building in question, at 900 North Collier Blvd., is perhaps most easily pinpointed by the representation of nautical flags which gird its balcony, but those will be going away as part of renovations, said Percel. Like other area real estate professionals, he said the entire industry is in a revitalization of its own, with activity and pricing moving upward toward levels not seen since the economic downturn.
One piece of synergy that Prudential had on Marco Island the company’s longtime slogan, “own a piece of the rock,” couldn’t be more appropriate locally also goes away, but the affiliation with the Oracle of Omaha is hard to top for trust and positive associations with an American company.
Percel has been at the company since 2006, a real estate licensee since 1991, and a full-time Marco resident since 1988. He spent 11 years as executive vice president of the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors, so he is certainly familiar with the island and the business.
“Coming aboard in ’06 was a great time to learn, when the business slowed down,” said Percel. “Nobody anticipated as much of a downturn as we had, but teal estate is always cyclical.”
Through August of this year, Prudential’s Marco office closed $84 million in new sales of real estate, said Percel, in addition to developer sales that do not go through the Multiple Listing Service, and is seeing sales 10 to 11 percent ahead of the same period a year ago. WCI Communities, perhaps best known in Naples as the developer of the massive Pelican Bay community, also built Hammock Bay and the last three buildings in the Cape Marco complex at the southern tip of the island.
The new company, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, marks the first time the Berkshire Hathaway name has been branded in a business selling to the public, said Percel. The company is owner of many well-known brands in a wildly diversified portfolio, including GEICO, Fruit of the Loom, Dairy Queen, Benjamin Moore Paints, See’s Candies and NetJets.
The new Marco affiliate is holding a reception for its associates and staff Tuesday afternoon. No word on whether Warren Buffett will attend.