Why Are Local Real Estate Brokerages Rebranding, Merging and Expanding?

Times are changing for Hawai‘i’s housing market.

It’s a dynamic, fast-changing time for local real estate brokerages, as many are rebranding, merging and expanding amid a hot housing market.


You might have already noticed some of the changes—the names, signage and colors of longtime, established firms changing as fast as the skyline in Kaka‘ako.


For example, there are no Prudential franchises on the Island for the first time in decades. This comes after two of the largest firms in Honolulu ended their franchise agreements.


Prudential Locations recently went back to its old name of Locations LLC. Prudential Advantage Realty last month became Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty.


They did so, in part, because they couldn’t stay as Prudential for much longer. Prudential franchisees nationwide are being asked to convert to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand following Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. purchase of Prudential real estate in 2012.


Many franchisees made the switch to Berkshire, but some did not, including the two former local Prudentials, which were two of the higher producers in the nation and are separately owned and operated from each other.


While Locations, one of the largest brokerages in Hawai‘i, went independent and back to its local roots, the other former local Prudential found a new national partner, as did some other local brokerages.


LIST Sotheby’s International Realty acquired Kāhala Associates in October and Mary Worrall Associates Sotheby’s International Realty in 2013. Recently the company announced it also acquired Cathy George & Associates Inc. as it expands its services in property management.


Carvill and Company, founded as a small Windward firm in 1995, became Carvill Sotheby’s International Realty last year. Sandwich Isles Realty, founded in 1990, merged this year with Keller Williams Honolulu, which opened its office last year with 140 agents and has aggressively recruited agents.


Locations isn’t the only company that went back to its original name. iProperties Hawai‘i, which became Shirokiya Residential Estates LLC (SRE LLC) in 2013, switched back to iProperties on Dec. 31 in hopes to clear up some of the name confusion with startup SRE Matrix.


Keller Williams and SRE Matrix, backed by $50 million from Japanese mogul Takeshi Sekiguchi, each launched last year and are among the newer players looking to make their mark on O‘ahu.


Seattle-based Redfin just opened its first office in Honolulu with four agents.


There may be some market confusion with all the change locally with the name swaps, mergers, acquisitions and startups. The changes also mean consumers will have several new or newly branded companies to choose from.


But despite the changes at the brokerage level, the client experience with these companies often comes down to the abilities, expertise and personality of the individual Realtor.


Read More Stories by Jaymes Song


Disclosure: Jaymes Song is an agent at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty, formerly Prudential Advantage Realty