• Northwood Realty Services has acquired Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty and will be joining the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network.

A big deal for Pittsburgh real estate was announced Wednesday, with independent brokerage Northwood Realty Services acquiring Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty and joining the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network. The deal creates an uber brokerage of 1,800 agents and 50 offices in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Northwood Realty, with 1,000 agents, no.19 in Real Trends’ top movers by transactions in 2018, caters to the Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio markets while Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, looks after clients in the southwestern Pennsylvania area.

Tom Hosack, co-president and CEO of The Preferred Realty

The newly combined companies will be based at Northwood Realty’s head office in Wexford, Pennsylvania, close to Pittsburgh. It will serve 22 counties in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices claims the “brokerage superpower” will be the largest real estate brokerage in greater Pittsburgh for sales volume, units and listings (based on West-Penn MLS data through May). It has a joint sales volume of around $3.5 billion, said Tom Hosack, Northwood Realty Services president and CEO.

Hosack, will become co-president and CEO of The Preferred Realty. He told Inman the acquisition would be worrying news for the dominant player in the market, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, also based in Pittsburgh.

“This makes us ahead of Howard Hanna here now with the merger of two large players. It will be very effective, we will be using the franchise to be a very good competitor,” he said.

The CEO saw the acquisition and merger under the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices umbrella as a great opportunity to gain more brand awareness as it expanded into Ohio, Hosack said.

“In Ohio, they didn’t know what Northwood was,” he said.

Jim Saxon, co-president and COO The Preferred Realty

The CEO would like to expand further into Ohio — the brokerage already has one office in Cleveland. Hosack would like more there and will then move on toward Columbus. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, the merged business will be working its way east to Altoona and State College, he said.

Hosack is joined at the newly merged company by The Preferred Realty’s Jim Saxon who will be co-president and COO. Northwood Realty Services’ Wendy West, will be chairwoman of the new brokerage’s board of directors, while Ron Croushore, CEO of The Preferred Realty, is now the board’s vice chairman.

Ron Croushore, CEO of The Preferred Realty

Croushore said in a press statement Wednesday, “Our economies of scale will help us innovate, market and grow our services. As part of my legacy, I want to see The Preferred Realty grow for generations to come. We are certainly on that track.”

Saxon added in the same release, the timing was right. “Our markets are growing and changing, just like our competitors,” he said. “It’s more important than ever for our agents to be supported with the most effective technology, tools, education and leadership to help them succeed.

Hosack told Inman the agents from both companies had been texting and calling each other since last night. “The cultures are very similar. We are big on innovation — tech, marketing, better practices. It will be better for both consumers and agents.”

Northwood Realty Services, owned and operated by Everest Consulting Group, was founded in 1956 and has a number of ancillary services including mortgage lender West Penn Financial Service Center and People First Financial, as well as Everest Insurance and Everest Settlement.

The Preferred Realty, founded over 50 years ago, has a family of companies including Preferred Insurance, Preferred Settlement Services, RE Educators and a property management firm. All these ancillary companies will merge from next week, said Hosack, while the brokerages will merge from August 14.

The new entity is likely to take on a further 400 agents this year, he said.

Email Gill South.

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