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Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC has announced that Blackhorse Real Estate and Cottage & Castles Real Estate, Inc. have merged and affiliated with BHGRE® as its 15th affiliate in California. The new firm, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Best Life, is now the dominant real estate brokerage in California’s North Monterey County, with marketshare more than double its nearest competitor, according to the company.

The combined company, which will be led by April Whitehead, Jurgen Herzog and Karen Cosentino, will be headquartered in Prunedale. It will also serve Salinas, Royal Oaks, Aromas, Elkhorn, Moss Landing, Marina, Seaside, Castroville and Pajaro. The new BHGRE Best Life generated over $35 million in sales volume last year.

The creation of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Best Life is the seventh BHGRE opening in California since the start of 2019.

Cosentino launched Blackhorse Real Estate 20 years ago. She is a former president of the Monterey County Association of Realtors®. Business partners Whitehead and Herzog previously led Cottage & Castles Real Estate, Inc. which was founded in 1987 by Ron Whitehead, Jane Spangler and Rene Carson. Herzog launched his real estate career as an agent in 1998. Whitehead joined the firm in 2000.

The new ownership group was specifically drawn to Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate because of the brand’s Be Better University® and PinPointSM, its proprietary predictive marketing tool that utilizes Better Homes & Gardens magazine and its publisher Meredith Corporation’s data generated from its 175 million consumers.

The region is noted for its affordable living, and sizeable home lots with majestic views of the entire Monterey Bay. It is within easy drives of such noted California communities as Monterey and Santa Cruz, and just 45 minutes to the San Jose International Airport.

The region’s entry-level home price of approximately $550,000 is in high demand with appropriately priced homes attracting multiple bids. The move-up market allows for gated communities and one- to five-acre lots. Those homes priced between $700,000 to $900,000 with flat land suitable for horses are in high demand. The region is known for its “affordable luxury,” where luxury homes range from $900,000 to $2 million, potentially half the cost of like-sized homes in Monterey, which is just a 30-minute drive away.

“Karen, April and Jurgen deserve a lot of credit for recognizing that by coming together they would be more effective in serving their affiliated agents and the Northern Monterey Country marketplace,” says Sherry Chris, president and CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “They also understood that competing as an independent firm is extremely challenging today. Affiliating with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate allows them to provide their agents with more resources than they could implement on their own. This is also another example of how our status as the real estate industry’s true ‘lifestyle’ brand fits to drive growth and market presence.”

“I have known April and Jurgen for a long time and we always viewed ourselves as friendly competitors and saw the cultural similarities each time our affiliated agents worked together on sales,” says Cosentino. “We both value a collaborative, family environment where our clients come first. Selling country properties requires a unique set of skills that goes beyond traditional residential home sales and the agents in both firms are outstanding. The merger just made sense as did the affiliation with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. No other brand has such instant credibility with buyers and sellers and that was critically important to us. The marketing and agent training resources the brand provides will allow us to increase our size and scope.”

“We thought the ‘Best Life’ name was obvious because of the incredible lifestyle we enjoy in North Monterey County,” says Whitehead. “Joining together and affiliating with BHGRE allows our agents to create an even more productive and enjoyable work life. Our region continues to attract so many who enjoy our bedroom communities, affordable home prices and acreage you don’t normally find in California. We have the rolling hills, horse country, ocean views and are centrally located to enjoy everything Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties offer. It really is the best life.”

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