Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, got some mud kicked in his face this week. His real estate brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, lost one of its top producers to rival Keller Williams in Buffett’s own backyard: Omaha, Nebraska.
Jeff Cohn and his 35-person team, Omaha’s Elite Real Estate Group, will be moving to a new technology-driven Keller Williams “Market Center” in West Omaha, the company said this week. The new office is a 15-minute drive from Buffett’s five-bedroom home on Farnam Street, on the west side of the city.
Buffett bought his Omaha home for $31,500 in 1958. It’s now valued by Zillow at about $1 million. Buffett often refers to it as the “third-best investment” he’s ever made, after the wedding rings he purchased for his first wife, who died in 2004, and for his second wife, for their 2006 marriage. Forbes puts Buffett’s net worth this month at about $88 billion.
“We’re excited to announce that we’re going to be officially launching a Keller Williams franchise in West Omaha on Jan. 1,” Cohn said in a Facebook video he posted on Tuesday. “We believe having a one-stop solution for the consumer is the future, and going into this next decade, it’s imperative that we’re serving our clients at the highest level.”
In an interview, Cohn said one of the main reasons he decided to move to Keller Williams is its emphasis on tech. In the last three days, he’s gotten calls from over 30 agents who want to join the new office from other companies, he said.
“For real estate companies to continue to exist they are going to have to have a huge emphasis on technology while keeping the agent at the center of the transaction,” Cohn told HousingWire. “Otherwise, what happened to Blockbuster will happen to the real estate industry.”
Cohn’s team was No. 1 at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in 2018, according to RealTrends. It’s on track to be No. 1 for 2019, said Cohn, who hosts the Team Building Podcast on iTunes. For the last six years, Cohn’s team has been No. 1 in Nebraska.
A year ago, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices lost its 2017 top producer when Mike McCann, “the real estate man,” jumped ship for Keller Williams in Philadelphia.