Diane Ramirez, after leaving BHS, joins Berkshire’s HomeServices

Longtime brokerage exec to be chief strategy officer for New York City operation

Diane Ramirez
Diane Ramirez

Diane Ramirez has a new gig: chief strategy officer for the New York office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties.

Tuesday will be Ramirez’s first day, the company announced. She will focus on growing the operation by recruiting agents and acquiring smaller firms. Ramirez called her new role a privilege.

“This is everything that I love and believe that I’m good at,” she said. “I can go back to skipping to work and that [feeling of] I just can’t wait to get into the office.”

Ramirez stepped down as Brown Harris Stevens’ executive chairman and senior adviser last month, just over a year after the merger between BHS and Halstead, the brokerage that Ramirez co-founded in 1984. She said the role at HomeServices appealed to her because it was an opportunity to build up a company.

“I love growing a brand. … Brown Harris Stevens is an established brand and they will do extremely well,” she said. “It was just no reflection on them, it was just something that really spoke to me.”

Ramirez said the job came about after she reached out to congratulate Candace Adams, HomeServices’ president and CEO of the company’s New England, Westchester and New York properties, on hiring Steven James, the former New York CEO of Douglas Elliman.

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James moved to HomeServices in April along with executive sales manager Brad Loe.

Ramirez said the conversation with Adams veered into a bigger discussion about HomeServices looking to expand in New York. “One thing led to another,” Ramirez said. She said the position had not been formally offered at the time she stepped down at BHS.

Adams said she was excited to add Ramirez and is seeking out respected industry veterans to add to the brokerage following the departure of Ellie Johnson, the firm’s president, in May.

“We feel we’re at a precipice of growth,” said Adams. She said her goal was to “become the prominent real estate company” in New York City.

It has considerable distance to make up. HomeServices New York, which launched four years ago, has 75 agents. It first surfaced in The Real Deal’s annual brokerage ranking with nearly $82 million in closed sales for 2019 across 21 transactions, a 196 percent gain from the year before. The brokerage didn’t make the 2020 list.

The Minneapolis-based parent company was founded in 1998 and had the third highest transaction volume among U.S. brokerages last year, behind Realogy and Compass, according to Real Trends.

Ramirez is quick to admit that greatness “doesn’t happen overnight” and the firm has had a “bit of a slow start” but said she’s excited to get to work.

“I really do think we’re going to take our proper place in New York City,” she said.