Insurance to Real Estate Brokerage Services in 10 months
Early this year, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) established its office in the Dubai International Financial Centre to provide specialty and commercial insurance to its brokers and other companies with a focus on construction, energy, property, marine, casualty and executive and professional lines. Within eight months of setting an office, BHSI further expanded its leadership team in Dubai with the appointment of executives to fill key product line and service posts.
In November 2018, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices announced its entry into markets from Italy to Japan and the Middle East. The firm has teamed up with London-based Kay & Co., its second franchisee in Europe, after Rubina Real Estate in Berlin. Adding Milan, Vienna and Dubai to its network is in the works before end of the year.
Clearly, the promoter is on to something and UAE’s economy seems to be the beneficiary. These developments are timely for real estate market in Dubai which is looking at augmenting investor confidence.
Why global real estate markets?
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. first acquired a stake in HomeServices of America, comprised of real estate brokerages and mortgage companies, in 2000. The operation has become one of the largest residential-brokerage owners in the U.S.
One of the chief reasons of the firm moving into markets away from US is that many buyers of high-end properties are now coming from outside the U.S and HomeServices requires a more global presence to cater to that segment of property investors.
The tie-up with a luxury property brokerage focused on London neighborhoods at a time when Brexit has adversely impacted the U.K. housing market raises some eyebrows. However, the U.K. firm—now known as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co.—plans to expand through acquisitions and joint ventures, and will add as many as 10 standalone offices in the next decade to leverage other global markets such as Dubai for becoming profitable.
The ability to link buyers and sellers in different countries is already paying off, according to Michael Jalbert, senior vice president for global sales at HSF Affiliates. Since announcing its intention to work with Kay & Co., the U.K. company has received a steady stream of leads from the Berkshire Hathaway network. “And we haven’t even changed the signs yet,” he said.