BrokerageMarkets & Economy

Brokerage M&A activity will be ‘good, not great’ in 2017 — here’s why

Main players and advisers are preparing for a strong 2017, but buyers will be selective
  • Two big players, Realogy and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, are actively looking for acquisitions.
  • Also in the mix with strong expansion plans are Pacific Union International and Howard Hanna.
  • Active M&A players are mainly interested in big independent brokerages in cities such as Chicago, Florida, Seattle and elsewhere on the West Coast.

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The market for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the real estate industry was very strong from mid-2013 to mid-2016 -- and then it cooled off. But after a pause, two big players, Realogy and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, who generally set the tempo in M&A -- are back scouring the market for selected purchases. "I think for 2017 across the country, we will have a good, but not great, year in M&A activity,” said Steve Murray, President of Real Trends Consulting, which specializes in valuation and mergers and acquisitions. The company has done over 600 valuations and 90 sales in the last five years. “It will be good, solid business,” Murray added. “There will be 20 or 25 companies in the U.S. on everybody’s radar." These include well-known independent brokerages in Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Seattle and in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in Florida, all of which could get the main players excited if they came on the market. How things...