• Long-time owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason McDuffie, Ed Krafchow, is retiring.
  • The brokerage has been sold to four new owners of existing BHGRE brokerages.

It seems that four franchised brokerage owners of Better Home & Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) companies in Northern California all got something early for Christmas this year.

“A Christmas present you paid for,” quipped manager-turned-franchise-owner at BHGRE Wine Country, Gerrett Snedaker.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Mason McDuffie, one of the largest brokerages in Northern California, has been sold off to four (new) owners of existing BHGRE brokerages as long-time owner Ed Krafchow retires from the business.

The brokerage has been divided up into four areas:

  • The East Bay, including Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont
  • San Francisco and San Jose
  • The Wine Country
  • Pleasanton

The history behind Mason McDuffie

Ed Krafchow

Ed Krafchow

At one time, Krafchow was among the largest broker-owners in the United States and ranked in the top 20 brokers in the country, according to Real Trends.

A graduate of UCLA, Krafchow was 39 when he became an agent at Mason McDuffie.

In 1997, he and his partner David Cobo were minority owners in the firm when they struck a deal with the Prudential real estate franchise network to fund buying the remaining 85 percent of the Berkeley, California-based firm.

It became their launchpad for growing the company five-fold in just eight years. At its peak in 2006, the company had nearly 2,000 real estate agents in 34 offices spread across four states, including an uber swath of California.

“Retiring after a long and distinguished career, Krafchow and BHGRE have worked together to find new and ownership opportunities for the brokerage firm as part of the brand’s service commitment and dedication to providing strategic growth opportunities for the BHGRE network,” said BHGRE in a statement.

“All of the new entities have stayed within the Better Homes and Gardens brand, becoming a great opportunity (once in a lifetime) for young entrepreneurs to increase their footprint,” said BHGRE CEO, Sherry Chris.

‘If you ever get to the stage you want to sell, think of me’

The franchise owner to take the biggest share of Krafchow’s business is Daryl Rogers, president of BHGRE Reliance Partners in Sacramento. Rogers will take on BHGRE-Mason McDuffie offices in El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Danville and Fremont.

“In Sacramento (where we have 4.5 offices) we were at 230 agents — this addition puts us at over 500,” said Rogers.

Rogers already had links with Berkeley and with Krafchow. When he was at Keller Williams, he sold the Keller Williams Berkeley office to Krafchow in 2010.

The pair have kept in touch over the years, Rogers moving to BHGRE in 2011.

“Because of that sale, we had a relationship,” Rogers noted. “For years we had talked at many BHGRE retreats and at Inman events; it was one of those things we talked about. By the time he decided to retire, it wasn’t out of the blue. We looked on the horizon, and I said: ‘If you ever get to the stage you want to sell, think of me,'” said Rogers.

The discussions over which franchise partners would take which parts of the business were very amicable, said Rogers. “And we all plan on working together as a team,” he added.

Rogers, usually based in the Roseville, California office, said he will have Matt Cord, manager of the BHGRE-Mason-McDuffie Berkeley office, as his president of East Bay and will spend three or four days a week in the region himself.

San Jose and San Francisco offices

Steve Belluomini, franchise owner at BHGRE J.F. Finnegan — along with two other partners, including Tony Ventura from BHGRE Ventura Barnett Properties in San Jose — has bought the San Jose and the San Francisco offices. Belluomini already owns BHGRE in the South Bay, including Daly City, San Mateo and Burlingame. 

He said: “We have always wanted to get into San Francisco. Being in Daly City, you’d be amazed at how much business that office does with San Francisco clients.

“We will be able to spread the name of BHGRE, and we’ll be able to service clients and agents in San Francisco and the South Bay to San Jose,” he added.

He will go from having from 286 to 392 agents.

The final offices

Former managers — now franchise owners — Snedaker and Randy Coffman have bought five offices from Krafchow, in Sonoma, St. Helena, Sebastapol, Santa Rosa and a small office in Bodega Bay.

Snedaker, as a licensee for Frank Howard Allen Realtors, sold nine offices to Krafchow in 2011 — so in effect, he was buying some of them back, he said.

“Staff and agents are really excited that we are doing this and being more local,” said Snedaker.

“I like the BHGRE story,” he added, noting that after beginning franchise operations in July 2008, “it is still maturing and getting recognition.”

BHGRE broker-owner of Tri-Valley Realty, Janet Cristiano, has also bought out BHGRE Tri-Valley Partners in Pleasanton.

Email Gill South

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