Peter Turtzo is the Senior Vice President of International Operations for HSF Affiliates LLC, responsible for establishing strategy and process for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ growth into international markets and later, for the affiliation of brokerages abroad. He comes to HSF Affiliates with a wealth of experience not only in international real estate franchising but also in the real estate industry as a third-generation broker.
Previously, Turtzo worked for 16 years in various leadership roles at Realogy Holding Corp. In 2005, he was appointed vice president of Global Operations at Sotheby’s International Realty and for the next eight years developed that brand in 43 countries and territories. He served the last two years as vice president of Global Operations at Coldwell Banker.
Recently, we sat down with the SVP of International Operations and asked him five questions about the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand and what its footprint might look like abroad.
- Prior to joining the team, what was your perception of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand? I’d heard about the success stories told by franchisees, who transitioned to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network and more recently, about independent brokerages who came aboard. Though these companies had distinct stories about why exactly they chose to become a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network member, they all expressed similar sentiments about how successfully the brand was received by both consumers and agents in markets around the country.
- What does the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand mean to you? The name stands for stability, strength, quality and innovation. Those are the fundamental values Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchisees—and their agents—bring to U.S. real estate markets and those are the same ideals that will be found in our affiliates around the globe.
- The international real estate market in the U.S. is $104 billion. How can Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchisees gain market share right now? That’s an important question, especially because, according to NAR’s most recent Profile of International Home Buying Activity, that $104 represents about 8% of total existing home sales dollar volume. In terms of how our members can capitalize now, the geographic location of our members will allow franchisees to win international business. Of our 1200 offices, many of our members are located in U.S. destination markets and feeder markets, so we are well positioned to gain our share of this growing market.
- What is one example of how an agent can take advantage of the international real estate market in the U.S.?
At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, we currently offer training to earn the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation, something few brokerage networks provide today. CIPS training provides a strong foundation for U.S. agents seeking to conduct business with international clients. The training program includes up to five full days of study covering international business in domestic markets and transactions in Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Americas. Instruction will involve transaction tools, currency and exchange rate issues, cross-cultural relationships, regional market conditions, investment performance, tax issues and more. In addition to this training, I’d advise agents to attend select international events. Go to Beijing, go to Berlin and network with agents in other countries, who may become important sources of international referrals. Also, agents should consider hiring a multilingual assistant who can help them reach a sector of their local market they might otherwise not be able to enter.
- Looking into the future, how do you think the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices name will resonate globally? The namesake of our brand, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is known around the world for its respect and trustworthiness. As we begin our international franchising, consumers will relate those same core values with the agents and brokers who serve them, just as we saw happen in the U.S. It’s an exciting time for us to start our global expansion and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices will provide brokerages in our target markets with opportunities to succeed unlike anything any other brand has to offer.