As part of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network, Kennedy Realty has global reach but continues a unique legacy of more than half a century in the local real estate business and now finds itself in a market resurging to historic highs.
"We have proudly served Statesboro and Bulloch County for over 53 years," said Everett Kennedy, owner and broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kennedy Realty.
He has worked with the local company, which was founded by Joe Johnston in 1963, for nearly 34 of those years, and has owned it for 23. Kennedy joined Johnston Realty in 1983, helped rebrand it in joining the Prudential Real Estate franchise network in 1989, and bought the firm in 1994.
The latest rebranding, as part of Berkshire Hathaway's relatively new real estate arm in April 2015, put a global platform and technology, marketing tools and other resources Kennedy believes are second to none in the hands of Statesboro's oldest real estate company, he said.
"So I feel like we've got the best of both worlds," Kennedy said. "We've got the local people, the local knowledge and know-how, but we're backed by a national and even now global organization with international reach."
At the national level, Berkshire Hathaway bought Prudential Real Estate in 2012 and started transferring agencies to the new brand the following year.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has about 1,270 affiliate offices and 42,350 agents in 42 states.
It also provides a global listings platform through 70 websites in 37 countries across five continents. Kennedy believes such exposure will benefit sellers and buyers as international interest in the Statesboro area grows with Georgia Southern University and with industrial trade through Savannah, he said.
All of Kennedy Realty's residential, commercial and other properties appear in the national and global listings. These are translated into almost 50 languages, with prices shown in the various currencies, he said.
Berkshire Hathaway also has agreements with nationally known real estate search sites including Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com so that its listings appear on these, as well as a mobile app of its own.
"Ultimately, these tools will help us achieve gains in efficiency and effectiveness, which means even better service for clients," Kennedy said.
Kennedy Realty is part of what he calls "a premier group" of Berkshire Hathaway affiliate companies with commercial real estate services.
On the residential side, it is also classified as a Luxury Collection Specialist agency, handling some homes ranking in the top 5 percent of prices in their market areas. Luxury Collection firms network with other agencies in this category across the country and use special marketing materials to reach customers in search of high-end residential properties.
Of course, Kennedy Realty also handles homes in lower price ranges.
In 2012 when Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett announced the acquisition of Prudential Real Estate, some pundits wondered about the wisdom of such a move, even by the renowned investor. Others saw at as a sign that the real estate market was entering sustained recovery.
Indeed, after a real estate collapse signaled recession in 2007-2008, the local market continued to decline through 2010. But the bottom was reached in 2011, and demand started creeping up the following year, Kennedy observed.
"It has increased every year since 2012, but 2015 was a pretty good year, '16 was, I would say, a really good year, and '17 looks bright," he said.
Both statewide and Bulloch County data show a resurgence in home sales and prices.
In 2016, 782 residential units listed through real estate agents were sold in Bulloch County, exceeding the 751 units sold in the pre-recession year 2007, as reported by the Georgia Multiple Listing Service, or GAMLS.
The average sale price of $153,940 last year remained lower than the $159,706 average in 2007, and the reported 2016 median price of $140,000 was also a little lower than the 2007 median price of $148,500. But with the higher volume last year, Bulloch County home sales of almost $120.4 million surpassed the 2007 pre-recession total of $119.9 million.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Realtors annual report on residential real estate activity statewide, which Kennedy also provided, showed that concluded sales in 2016 increased 9.8 percent over the previous year. Pending sales increased by 10.4 percent and the statewide median sales price by 6.2 percent. Here as in other references, "Realtors" is the trademarked name of a professional organization and its membership.
The Georgia Realtors report for January 2017 showed an increase of 5.1 percent in concluded sales over January 2016, with a 9.3 percent rise in median price, but a 15.2 percent drop in the number of homes for sale. That last statistic is a positive sign for home values, as it shows a tightening of inventory, Kennedy said. The same report shows a 3 percent increase in new listings over the previous January, indicating that more homes are entering the market as older inventory is sold.
The Georgia Realtors' latest annual report shows average days on the market have decreased each of the past four years, from 92 days in 2012 to 75 days in 2015 and then, in a largest proportional drop, to 64 days in 2016.
The market's resurgence is also reflected in the number of people working as real estate agents, Kennedy says from his statewide contacts and local experience.
In the last 60 days, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kennedy Realty has added three agents, bringing its total to 18 agents, the most yet.
"Ainsley Byington, Mitchell Ball and Skyler Frazier are our three newest agents, and we're extremely pleased to welcome them aboard and have them be a part of the team," Kennedy said.
Meanwhile, Kennedy and six of his experienced agents recently received awards from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices for performance ranking near the top for the national brand.
Mahtab Davoud, Billy Allen and Tim Montgomery were named to the Honor Society, comprising the top 10 percent of agents nationally. Nikki Williams garnered Leading Edge Society membership for placing in the top 7 percent of agents.
James Lawson and Sam DiPolito each won a President's Circle Award, reserved for the top 4 percent of agents.
"I am extremely proud of our agents' success and their commitment to providing a level of service above and beyond to their clients," Kennedy said.
He received the Chairman's Circle Gold Award, for the top 2 percent of the brand's agents nationwide.