1.25.2015

Albany real estate agency gets new name

ALBANY >> A homegrown, fourth-generation real estate agency is getting a new name and with it will come positive changes, the company head predicts.
On Feb. 17, Albany-based real estate agency Prudential Manor Homes and Prudential Blake Commercial will become Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and Berkshire Hathaway Blake Realtors.
Berkshire Hathaway, headed by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffet, purchased the Prudential Real Estate division, resulting in this name change.
Berkshire Hathaway is involved in a number of different companies from Geico to Dairy Queen to Helzberg Diamonds, and now its adding real estate to the portfolio.
What does this mean for the local company?
“We expect more business as a result,” said President and CEO Jay Christiana.
The local company is expecting this change to begin a ground-breaking chapter in its 93rd year of operation.
“It’s a big change for us and we’re really excited about it,” said Christiana, who reported that morale throughout the company has been high since the October announcement. “There’s been a great energy.”
Prudential Manor Homes currently has nine offices, from Lake George to Kinderhook. The main office is located in Albany, right near the airport.
With Berkshire Hathaway now on board, that number may soon increase, Christiana predicted.
“We’re really anticipating growth because of it,” he said.
While this partnership will bring increased national advertising, referrals and name recognition, for existing clients “it’s business as usual,” Christiana said. All who have listings with Prudential Manor Homes will automatically be transferred to the new company, with no changes in contract terms. The company hopes to assure customers their service will still be handled by a local agent that is knowledgeable in the regional real estate market.
Signs will promptly be changed by Feb. 17 and enhanced services and marketing programs, which will roll out next month as well.
What sparked the change was Prudential’s decision around two years ago to get out of the real estate business.
Originally a company called Brookfield Real Estate and Relocation acquired Prudential Real Estate two years ago. About a year later, Buffet came into the picture, seeking to break into real estate, and Berkshire Hathaway then acquired the Prudential Real Estate brand.
Agencies like Prudential Manor Homes had the choice to explore opportunities with other real estate franchises.
After looking at all the options, Christiana and his team decided that Berkshire Hathaway was “without a doubt the best option for us,” he said. The contract was signed six months ago, and soon the transition will be finalized.
Many other former Prudential companies are doing the same. Currently, there are four others in the state, the closest in Castleton-on-Hudson.
As of Jan. 14, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services has 1,075 offices in 47 states. The company is looking to expand internationally as well.
For the newly established Berkshire Hathaway Blake agency, “There’s a lot to be accomplished with the transition and we’re checking things off the list every day,” Christiana said.
With the title change, Christiana chose to incorporate the name Blake, the original name of the family’s real estate company.
Blake Realty was founded in 1922 by Samuel Blake, Christiana’s great grandfather, on State Street in Schenectady. In 1954 the company was incorporated as Blake Realty Inc. A decade later the first branch was opened in Amsterdam, and in 1970 divisions were developed to serve various segments of business, including residential, commercial, relocation, investment and development.
The most dramatic change in that history took place 23 years ago, when Blake Realty Inc. became part of the then-fastest growing real estate company in the world, Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.
Now under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella, Christiana said, “it’s grown and shrunk over the years with the market and everything else.”
“We’re certainly in growth mode right now and we see an opportunity in the marketplace,” he added.
For more information, visit bhhsblakerevolution.squarespace.com.
Lauren Halligan may be reached at 290-1443.

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