The Homesale Family of Companies, which includes Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, is a leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Md., and South Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania real estate markets, and last year finished second among all Berkshire Hathaway companies nationwide. The six-person ownership team includes Rod Messick, COO; Regina Coia, president of Realty Operations; Pete Slaugh, managing director; Brad Dimmig, president, Homesale Mortgage; Rick Doyal, managing director; and Ron Landis, managing director. Here, the team talks about market trends and the importance of strong culture.
How would you characterize your market during the first quarter of 2018?
Rod Messick: In general, it’s strong and healthy, with a lot of demand and activity. We do have an inventory shortage, and anything that’s attractive and priced properly is getting multiple offers right out of the gate. The higher you go, the more normal the offer curve and base of marketing is going to be.
What sort of challenges are you dealing with?
RM: One big headwind we’re dealing with in Central Pennsylvania is the cold winter we experienced. We’re also in the middle of an MLS transition. People are just getting comfortable with how the system functions and making sure it works the way it’s supposed to.
Regina Coia: It was a significant transition.
Studies show that millennials are buying a greater percentage of houses than ever before. How are you reaching out to this demographic?
RM: The biggest thing we’ve been doing to try and be more appealing to the millennial generation is to migrate more of our marketing toward social media channels by using Facebook and Instagram for both target advertising and brand awareness.
RC: The other piece is to educate millennials about new products available to get them into a home sooner. It’s not like their parents’ day when you had to have 10 percent or 20 percent down to get a mortgage. We have these young folks who can get into a first-time home for a few thousand dollars, and they just don’t realize that.
What attracts agents to your firm?
RC: Our culture is pretty dynamic. We have a set of core values and that’s an important part of our story. It’s really about removing obstacles and helping people achieve their dreams. People who describe our culture talk about a family and a trusting environment. It’s not enough just to be excellent or to be caring; we’re a culture of both. That has driven our growth in a significant way.
How is the firm unique, and what separates it from others in the area?
Pete Slaugh: We have all company-owned profit centers all the way to closing—mortgage, title insurance, property insurance, property management and investment. It’s an attraction because there’s a huge amount of support company to company by doing that. The agents really feel the difference. We’re also known as a very philanthropic company and we put back into the community every chance we get.
RC: I’d also say our training program and how we help people become productive and the tools and services we provide.
Let’s talk about that training. Tell me what you offer and how important it is to you as a firm.
RC: It’s critically important. We have “success centers” in each of our regions in Central Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Md., and we have a dedicated trainer and coach in each. We’re about to make a leadership change and appoint a vice president of career development, a brand-new role in our company, and that person will be charged with taking all the best of what we have in our curriculum and putting it on steroids and ensuring we have every type of program available to help agents start with a business plan. We want them to see us as their accountability partner.
Talk about your growth strategy for 2018.
RM: We feel like growth is critically important. Already, we’ve opened a new office that’s between two markets we’re already servicing; we massively expanded our Westminster, Md., operation with a great new hire and the market is really responding to our presence there; and we also moved our Lancaster County office, with a substantial improvement in the quality of our space. We’re trying to leverage the strength of the Berkshire Hathaway brand to do some market infill and some geographic expansion.
Vitals: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty
Years in Business: 21
Size: 28 offices, 1,300 agents
Regions Served: South Central Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Greater Baltimore Metro
2017 Sales Volume: $3.1 billion
2017 Transactions: Approximately 15,000 units
No. 52 in sales volume in RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Report
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