A deal that brings iconic investor Warren Buffett to the Silicon Valley housing market was announced Tuesday with the acquisition of Intero Real Estate Services by Buffett's HomeServices of America.
The acquisition of the fast-growing Cupertino real estate brokerage expands Buffett's real estate footprint in California, where HomeServices already has operations in Southern California and the Central Valley. The sale price was not disclosed.
"It's a very, very good company and we paid fair value," said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices. "The owners clearly did not need to sell."
Since its founding in 2002, Intero has grown to 2,000 agents in seven states, including California.
The company says it moved 7,300 properties for $5.7 billion in the greater Silicon Valley area in 2013, and its affiliates generated more than $1.5 billion.
Intero President and CEO Gino Blefari said the company's growth plans are now backed by the resources of one of the country's biggest residential real estate companies.
"This will allow us to grow even more," he said.
The deal means that HomeServices now has more than 23,000 real estate professionals in 25 states.
HomeServices, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, has reportedly had its sights on the valley for some time.
Peltier called it "one of the premier markets in the country."
The company has a reputation for giving its acquisitions operational freedom. That will be the case with Intero, Peltier said.
"Our business model is that we identify great companies and we leave them alone," he said. "We plan on keeping it and running it the way it's been run for years and years to come."
Blefari said the company's expansion plans are focused on Silicon Valley and Northern California.
Intero's management will continue to lead the company, Blefari and Peltier said.
Founded by Blefari in 2002 after he left Coldwell Banker, Intero soon grew to 13 offices throughout San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties, with nearly 50 affiliates in six states, including California.
Blefari grew up in Sunnyvale and attended San Jose State. He began selling real estate in 1984.
"It's an exciting thing for our industry when you see a guy like Warren Buffett coming in and saying I'm going put a bunch of money into the real estate industry," said Myron Von Raesfeld, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "It's a positive sign not only for real estate but for the economy, because real estate tends to drive our economy."
Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419 Follow him on Twitter.com/petecarey