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As chief executive officer of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Helen Hanna Casey is doing the family name proud, continuing the great organization started by her parents, Howard and Anne Freyvogel Hanna, in 1957.

“We’ve always been committed to building a culture where people want to work and feel secure, a company that’s built to last from generation to generation,” says Casey. “The company’s vision is that everyone is successful together, and we want our agents to accomplish great things.”

She has a lot of help from family, as her siblings—Hoddy and Annie—are also part of the firm, in addition to a third generation consisting of Annie Hanna Engel, Hoby Hanna, Kelly Hanna Riley, Duffy Hanna and Dennis Cestra, Jr.

“We strive every day, in every transaction, to reflect pride in our company, ourselves and each other, and in the people and communities we serve,” says Casey. “Through our knowledge, integrity and innovation, we’re able to participate in our customers’ realization of the American Dream.”

Since the mid-1980s, the firm has expanded by mergers and acquisitions within its footprint and into contiguous areas, as well. Over the last several years, these acquisitions have taken the firm into Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina and New York. Last year, the ninth-largest company in the country—RealtyUSA—chose to join the firm, making Howard Hanna the largest real estate company in New York.

“The firm’s growth comes from several sources each year. First and foremost, continued organic growth comes from strengthening and providing the training and tools needed to assure our associates can grow their business,” says Casey. “We’re always looking for opportunities to enhance the presence of Howard Hanna, as well as to add to the services we provide our clients. Opportunities within our footprint assure the future of the company.”

2016 was a record year for Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. Closed sales volume was up 38 percent over the year prior at $17.5 billion with 95,152 closed sales units, representing a 43 percent increase.

“By entering new markets, we’ve been able to increase our service area and our sales. This also offers our associates more opportunities to expand their knowledge and connect with agents in other areas,” says Casey. “The internal network of referrals is an asset to everyone.”

Throughout its markets, Casey sees the need to develop new housing opportunities for baby boomers in order to help them achieve their goal of rightsizing for the future, which will free up more opportunities for move-up and first-time buyers, expanding the market for consumers, agents and developers and giving brokers the ability to expand their businesses.

“The new rental properties that have been built don’t fit their needs. They still want homeownership, but with less responsibility,” says Casey. “The need for condos, carriage homes and zero-lot-line homes has never been greater.”

The firm is also working with builders and developers to help design housing for the huge 65-year-old population.

Hanna Financial Services recently created the My First Home program to help first-time buyers make their dream of homeownership become a reality. Training throughout the company helps the firm’s agents understand these needs in order to help first-time buyers overcome objections.

“We’re also kicking off a company-wide campaign called Own vs. Rent, which includes training, as well as an external campaign of direct mail and social media, to help first-time buyers understand the actual cost of ownership. It’s amazing that millennials believe they need 20 percent down,” says Casey. “They don’t understand mortgage interest deductions, as well as other tax savings.”

Vitals: Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Years in Business:
Size: 259 offices, 7,850 agents
Regions Served: Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland
2016 Sales Volume: $17,484,822,972
2016 Transactions: 95,152

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