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Leader of Homesale’s top residential team talks growth, benefits of size

Craig Hartranft leads the top sales team at the region’s largest residential brokerage.

But more than 25 years ago, he was a Lancaster police officer and a part-time real estate agent. He sold one home in his first six months.

“My wife told me to quit. I thought she meant being a Realtor,” he said. “She said ‘no, quit being a police officer.’”

Hartranft, a Garden Spot High School graduate and veteran of the Air Force, took a leap of faith in 1990 and began selling real estate full time.

By 1994, he was up to about 50 transactions a year. To find more balance in his life, he hired his first licensed agent and started his own team within Re/Max Associates of Lancaster.

In 2000, the team moved to Manor Township-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty. Today, it has 14 members and is coming off its best year ever. In 2014, it sold 336 homes and closed sales worth a total of $71.6 million.

Homesale teams

Homesale Realty has 95 sales teams across Pennsylvania, said Doug Rebert, managing director of the Lancaster County company, the region’s largest residential broker.

“We see the team phenomenon continuing to grow,” he said.

Most teams are on the smaller side. At Homesale, the average is about four people.

The Craig Hartranft Team, the company’s largest team, has 14 people.

It’s also a unique team because of team members’ specializations. Some agents will work only with buyers or sellers, while administrative staff will also support only one side of a transaction.

And the leader is more of a mentor.

Most teams, including Hartranft’s, start at a smaller size where that level of specialization isn’t possible. Many prefer a model where the leader is handling most transactions and the rest of the team functions in administrative roles.

“We’re on track right now to close around 400 transactions and $90 million in volume,” Hartranft said.

The Craig Hartranft Team was ranked nationally at No. 114 for transactions among teams surveyed in a list produced this year by Colorado-based Real Trends Inc. and The Wall Street Journal.

The team could rise even higher as the regional housing market continues to grow or if Hartranft expands beyond Lancaster County.

The Business Journal spoke with the 50-year-old Manheim Township resident last week about assembling a real estate team and why a group his size — as big or bigger than many small or medium-size brokers, isn’t looking to make its name as an independent firm.

Q: What is the biggest benefit of the team approach, or why does it work for you?

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