A lot can happen in a decade. Ten years ago, during the beginnings of what would be known as the ‘Great Recession’, the thoughts of a father and sons were consumed with how to keep the doors open of their small business. Like many small businesses, the market slowdown had forced them to consider closing portions of their company, and they had to make tough strategic decisions, like shrinking elements of their property management real estate brokerage. During this desperate time, there was no thought that they would be open at the end of the year much less than ten years later, and yet, through diligent business principles, skilled employees, and local market expertise, that same father-and-son business, Merced Yosemite Realty (MYR), would achieve one of their largest growth moments ten years later.
This last Friday, MYR owners, Terry, Brandon, and Jared Ruscoe, announced that they would merge with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE), bringing one of the largest lifestyle brands in America to Merced. This partnership makes the 14th BHGRE franchise in the California market. It was announced to their agents and employees at Vista Ranch & Cellars on Friday with executives in attendance, as well as support from the city of Merced with Economic Development Director, Frank Quintero. The announcement was met with enthusiasm and excitement from the employees and agents.
One of their top agents, Teri Kleinen, shares that “I’m extremely excited for this new endeavor that the brokerage is taking and am thrilled it is with such a reputable and recognized lifestyle brand.”
How did Better Home and Gardens (BHG) come to choose Merced? Terry Ruscoe's shares that in early 2018, he received a phone call from Stephen Bright, the Vice President of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE). Bright “phoned us to share and congratulate us on our many accomplishments here locally and to discuss a proposed affiliation from afar. This led to us visiting the Realogy (The parent Company of BHGRE) headquarters in New Jersey, followed by half a year of discussion, review, negotiation, and perhaps more importantly support. While Realogy is a global real estate giant, we were personally welcomed by the president and key leadership of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.”
This life-changing phone call validated decades of hard work by Terry Ruscoe, who started his life in Oakland with humble beginnings. His hard work and diligence are inherited by his sons, Brandon Ruscoe and Jared Ruscoe, both of whom are UC Merced graduates. “I love making memories every day. I’m one of the luckiest guys alive to work with sons and some of my best friends every day. From day one, we’ve nurtured a culture that values collaboration over competition. One thing is to propose such a culture and nurture it, but when everyone adopts it and adheres to it and makes it an everyday reality. It’s why we’ve been so successful in such a short period and are able to move onto this next step.” Brandon also added, “this collaborative culture is contrary to what most of the industry is modeled on and we’ve made it successful. We haven’t taken any shortcuts in building our foundation, which is our reputation and our people.”
Why Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate? Brandon shares, “Merced deserves the best. Merced has deserved this lifestyle brand for a long time that speaks for a better quality of life through homeownership and pride of ownership. As we’ve come to know in our own business, it’s all about empowering our employees. BHGRE offers a host of tools that are second to none and has some of the most sophisticated technologies that are designed to make our agents as effective as possible; they also value individual agent development through their award-winning continued education - this goal of investing in people is in line with our own, so it was a natural fit.”
Terry adds, “As our market continues to grow, it became important for us to have a recognized brand name that would instantly attract those from the Bay Area, around the U.S. and even into China where we’ve seen more buyers. From the beginning, we felt a strong affinity with the quality, values, and culture of Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and are excited to create increased opportunities for our team by aligning with a highly recognized and trusted lifestyle brand.”
The benefit of BHGRE isn’t just localized to the Ruscoe’s brokerage; it extends to the community-at-large. The Ruscoe family and their team are involved in several community initiatives, which Steven Bright stated as one of the reasons he was attracted to them. Bright enthusiastically shared a rhetorical question, “What real estate firm is invested in the education of youth more than Merced Yosemite Realty?” He is referring to the Ruscoe Family Scholarship at UC Merced that the family created in 2016. The team and family are also involved in Merced Rotary, Dignity Health Foundation, and other organizations.
The connection to UC Merced runs deeper than a scholarship. Brandon and Jared both serve on the board of the Alumni Association. The Ruscoe’s have proudly employed near a dozen UC Merced students while during college and afterward. These employees started at Merced Yosemite Realty in college and went on to have successful careers at companies such as Microsoft, Northrup Gunnam, and Law Firms. Aaron Hill shares about the experience, “Terry was one of my first mentors. He allowed me, who was a sophomore at the time, to gain practical experience of what I was studying at UC Merced. He gave me as much responsibility as I was willing to take on - I was managing repairs, tenant applications, landlord relationships, and collecting rent. It was an eye-opening experience - property management is a demanding business that requires transparency and fairness to both the property owner and to the tenant. I think the Ruscoe's owe a portion of their success to achieving this balance.”
Brandon shares why he is so passionate about bringing BHGRE to our community. “Merced has been a community that’s backed us since day one and has chosen us over larger competitors. We guarantee our work based on our reputation that combines small-town family office, hard work, and marrying it with tools and resources of a quality brand one of the largest and most popular quality brands in America. Our clients deserve it as they’ve supported us through everything.”
Terry shares that “just like our clients, our agents deserve better. This gives us the opportunity to guarantee that they will be even more successful than before with access to world-class resources. Additionally, they will have access to a catalog of new benefits including discounts with luxury automotive companies, cellular providers, shipping companies, and so on.” Jared adds that he’s “thrilled to see the quality of the continued education that BHGRE will offer their current and future agents. This will allow us to remain competitive and collaborative in any market condition.”
While there’s great excitement around the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Brokerage, these entrepreneurs have other significant projects in the works with their other companies, Merced Yosemite Property Management, and their Construction division. Recently, they facilitated one of the first Opportunity Zone deals in Merced on the historic Dallas House on 23rd and K Streets. This iconic building improvement project is symbolic of the momentum that Better Homes and Gardens brings to Merced - that we deserve the best in our community.
This family and their team of agents have moxie and aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Brandon shares that their newest venture with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in our market is a signal that “we get to raise the bar for the local market for what clients and agents can and should expect. Merced deserves the best and we’re here to offer it.”