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A Deal ‘Decades in the Making’: Behind the Howard Hanna | Coach Realtors Merger

Above: From left, Howard “Hoby” Hanna IV, Bob LaCosta, Whitney Finn LaCosta and LP Finn

Earlier this month, two of the real estate industry’s most iconic independent, family-run firms—Howard Hanna Real Estate Services (HHRES) and Coach Realtors—joined forces to extend the former’s reach into the lucrative New York market, and expand the latter’s support and resources for agents. The creation of Howard Hanna | Coach Realtors unites two firms that began in the 1950s—one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one in Long Island, New York—to now create what the company says is the No. 1 independently owned real estate brokerage in New York state.

For HHRES, the move is the latest in a series of key mergers and acquisitions that has expanded its footprint to new locations such as New York State. In September of 2020, HHRES merged with Rand Realty to form Howard Hanna | Rand Realty in the Hudson Valley Region. Following a similar strategy, Coach Realtors will also retain its existing leadership with Whitney Finn LaCosta serving as CEO of the newly merged firm.

Here, HHRES President Howard “Hoby” Hanna, Howard Hanna | Coach REALTORS Operating Officer LP Finn and CEO LaCosta discuss the details of the strategy behind the merger and the possibilities it has engendered.

Hoby, when did you first start to consider bringing Coach Realtors into the fold, and why?
Hoby Hanna: We have been family and industry friends for years, but about three years ago, we began to have a strategic conversation in earnest. Following our partnership with the Rand family, (we moved forward on) the concept of strategically coming together to become No. 1 in New York, and still have growth ahead. 

So this merger is part of Howard Hanna’s larger strategy in New York state…
HH: Without a doubt. Our New York strategy was to grow upstate through initial opportunities and then begin to encircle the city itself. Long Island is a critical piece and now gives us the platform to grow into Manhattan and the boroughs, as well as the Hamptons. 

LP, were you looking to join forces with another firm or brand? Or did the idea to merge with Howard Hanna happen organically?
LP Finn: Every good partnership is based upon friendship and mutual respect. The Finn family have been friends of the Hanna family for over 30 years. The decision to join forces was decades in the making. 

Both Howard Hanna and Coach are iconic family-run firms. Was this a big factor in the decision-making process?
Whitney Finn LaCosta: It was critically important because we know the success of any good partnership must be built on common core values and shared goals. The vision to grow and become stronger together while maintaining our independence and family leadership was paramount in the decision-making process. 

HH: The family piece is important for culture and decision-making. We both use “family” to mean all of our employees and REALTORS—looking out for everyone as part of the extended family. 

What makes Howard Hanna the right fit for your firm?
LPF: Family understands family. In the Hanna family, we’ve found a partner who understands our family-based culture and values, and we welcome the opportunity to align with such a dynamic and independent regional powerhouse. The Howard Hanna family is respected and known as passionate, accomplished real estate professionals who all grew up in the business and are committed to building the country’s best real estate company.

And, Hoby, what will Coach bring to the Howard Hanna family of companies?
HH: Incredible leadership, which is key to our business. A culture of excellence and caring about REALTORS and the consumer. We also believe that (their strengths) in marketing and relocation will enhance our team.

How do the cultures of the firms align, and how will this help the transition process?
WFL: Our culture aligns because we are both agent-centric companies that focus on training agents and providing them with tools to deliver the highest caliber of service. Both companies have strong core values of supporting and caring for each other and the communities we serve. This new partnership will only help enhance the environment of support and collaboration while taking nothing away. A true win-win! 

How will the merger help your firm navigate today’s shifting market?
HH: The merger allows for us to leverage costs and marketing to give more resources to customers and agents. We also can drive more leads and innovative programs like our 100% money-back guarantee and buy-before-you-sell mortgage to create greater value for our clients.

  What are the benefits Coach Realtors and its agents will gain from being part of Howard Hanna? What are the advantages to clients?
LPF: This partnership is a bold move with the future in mind. We will be able to fly the Howard Hanna flag throughout the region, increasing our presence in our existing markets and expanding throughout the area. Along with future growth, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services brings to Long Island best-in-class programs and resources. These new platforms include—but are not limited to—lending services, agent health and wealth services, relocation services, luxury home marketing, lead generation and agent productivity technology. We believe this is the right move for everyone in our brokerage, our clients and our community. 

To read the Howard Hanna company announcement of the merger, click here.

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