SEA ISLE CITY - A Delaware Valley real-estate company with offices in Cape May and Atlantic counties is hoping its new name will translate into increased rentals and sales. Prudential Fox & Roach on Tuesday officially became Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors, a mouthful for a company with 65 offices in Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey.
The company serves some of the region's pricier zip codes, including Philadelphia's Main Line, Margate, Stone Harbor and Avalon. It was acquired in August from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices of America Inc.
The Sea Isle City office on Landis Avenue celebrated the name change with a wine-and-cheese reception.
City Mayor and Cape May County Freeholder Leonard Desiderio wished the office staff luck on the change and joked around with a paper puppet of Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
"Now sell some houses!" he joked.
Vice President Carol Hopely Russo, of Sea Isle City, said the new name is expected to lend some cachet to the coastal real-estate offices.
Her agents swept the island, replacing sales signs featuring the blue Prudential rock icon with those bearing the "cabernet and cream" Berkshire Hathaway logo.
"The name is one of the world's most respected brands. But on the East Coast it's relatively new," she said. "He has the strength of stability. All of his companies are service-oriented. The integrity and professionalism is there."
Berkshire Hathaway has one of the nation's largest real-estate brokerages. Its BH Media Group acquired The Press of Atlantic City in August.
Few people have more experience in Cape May County real estate than Michael Ternosky, a broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
He co-founded First Eastern Realty in Sea Isle City, which was later bought by Prudential Fox & Roach.
Ternosky bought his first beachfront lot for $7,700 in Sea Isle City in the 1970s. He built a home and sold it for a profit of $16,000.
"I thought that was great," he said.
He saw the island get built out and watched the first demolition crews turn the earliest ranch homes into duplex condominiums. He saw interest rates spike to 17 percent in the 1980s and fall to as little as 2 or 3 percent today.
"People used to ask, 'What are we going to do here when we run out of land?'" he recalled.
Ternosky said in many ways real-estate agents have an easier job today because of the resources they have at their disposal.
"An agent who applies himself today can reach a lot more people," he said.
And there are other differences. Today, some agents at Fox & Roach hire professional photographers to showcase sales listings. This is especially important for the growing online presence that agencies must have. Fox & Roach Realtor associate Alexander Bowen specializes in updating the company's Web listings so would-be buyers can browse from home.
"A lot of people want to shop for a house in their pajamas," he said.
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