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Warren Buffett's firm to sell homes locally

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Berkshire Hathaway, the $162 billion conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, has entered the residential real estate market in East Manatee County and Sarasota.

The Omaha, Neb.-based company, through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, has been buying and partnering with real estate firms nationwide for the past four months. Its latest partnership is with WCI Communities, a Bonita Springs-based real estate development firm.

WCI, through subsidiary Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, acquired Elite Preferred Realty, which has about 40 agents in Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty is a new flag of what was formerly Prudential Florida Realty.

Prudential, an insurance and financial services firm, recently began exiting the residential real estate business. That left an opportunity for Berkshire Hathaway to get into the industry. Berkshire Hathaway acquired Prudential Florida Realty in July, and it made the name change official in October.

Terms of the deal for Elite weren’t disclosed. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty President and CEO Rei Mesa said the firm, based in Sunrise with 39 offices statewide and more than 1,300 agents, focuses on high-end homes.

“We want to be in luxury markets with second-home buyers where there’s a higher sales price,” Mesa said. “We are confident we will be able to come into this market and increase market share in a short time.”

The acquisition of Elite also reunites Mesa with Helen Sosso, who runs Elite. Sosso headed Prudential Palms Realty in Sarasota and Prudential Lakewood Ranch in East Manatee County for nearly a decade, until she founded Elite last year.

“I was thrilled that Berkshire Hathaway chose our company to make its entrance into Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota,” said Sosso.

Prudential Palms Realty grew to seven offices in Sarasota and Manatee counties in the 2000s before downsizing in the downturn.




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