Jason Waugh doesn’t think he’s in the real estate business. Instead, the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate sees himself as a business partner of an extended team.
“Our agents are CEOs and entrepreneurs, and they’re the ones in the real estate business,” he said. “As a company, our mission is to serve and support them, and our contribution is the resources and tools that enable them to achieve their professional goals.”
Berkshire Hathaway, a 2022 winner of The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Top Workplaces competition, now in its 11th year, offers a selection of housing-related offerings, including mortgage lending, insurance and moving services, and the real estate services for which it is best known is . Founded in 1948, the company had sales of $4.5 billion in 2021.
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The team commends a range of workplace traits that enable them to do their best work as “CEOs,” from solid training to flexibility combined with support when needed. Vicki Comer, a principal broker and branch manager who has been with the organization for 32 years, said Berkshire Hathaway leaders exemplify professionalism and integrity while prioritizing agents’ unique needs.
“They create opportunities for us to succeed by providing the support and connections that make brokers’ lives easier,” she said.
In keeping with the agent theme as CEO, Comer said the team appreciates the flexibility in when, where and how it best suits their goals and client base. “We all have the space we need to coordinate our work activities in a way that is appropriate at all times,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean they’re on their own, she added. “We have a vast reservoir of technology and resources to help agents build their individual business, along with ongoing training suitable for both new and experienced agents.”
Although Berkshire Hathaway has approximately 50 employees and 500 brokers spread across 25 Oregon offices, it prides itself on being a “flat” organization, meaning the senior executive team is accessible to all team members.
“Accessibility creates open communication channels; people feel comfortable coming to us with questions or raising complaints when they arise,” Waugh said.
He frequently visits the various offices for an open dialogue about anything that concerns agents or support staff—whether it’s about the company, their office, or the industry in general.
“Our business is ever-changing, and we’re trying to convey a sense of realistic optimism,” Waugh said, characterizing the recent market as “a damn decade.”
He notes that they have a roster of agents who have never seen a market down. “It’s important to give them a perspective, which in turn they can share with customers, because it’s our responsibility to be the reassuring, informed and educated voice in this process, which is usually already emotional based on motivation.” by buyers or sellers to initiate the transaction.”
While real estate is an inherently results-oriented business, Waugh said they intended to celebrate milestones beyond sales, like birthdays and company anniversaries. He prioritizes the personal touch by sharing a video or a handwritten message on these noteworthy days.
“I see the agents and staff as my customers, so I want to serve and support them to create an exceptional experience that they are then more likely to pass on to their customers,” said Waugh.
As a business partner, Waugh knows this means consistently listening to their needs. “Our actions show that we are sincere when we say that we value people more than production and that relationships are just as important as results,” he said.