BHHS_2_0_0 Earl Lee, the veteran Prudential Real Estate executive who helped launch Warren Buffett’s new real estate franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, will step down as CEO of parent company HSF Affiliates Inc. on Jan. 1 and hand over the reins to Gino Blefari, the founder of Intero Real Estate Services.

Lee, 69, served as an executive with Prudential Real Estate for 14 years before becoming the first CEO of HSF Affiliates, a joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway Inc. affiliate HomeServices and Brookfield Asset Management. Before joining Prudential Real Estate, he served as an executive for 20 years at Honolulu-based brokerage Prudential Locations LLC.

HSF Affiliates was established after HomeServices of America took a majority interest in the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living brands from Brookfield in October 2012. Nearly 500 brokerages representing 45,000 agents in 1,600 offices across the U.S. are affiliated with the company’s franchise brands, which include Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Blefari, who founded the Silicon Valley-based Intero Real Estate in 2002 after serving for five years as an executive with real estate giant Realogy, will serve as a senior vice president of HSF Affiliates until he takes over as CEO on Jan. 1.

“Earl has been instrumental in developing and executing the initial business growth strategies of HSF,” said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices, in a statement. “Gino is renowned for his vision, leadership skills and real estate experience, and will be a tremendous addition to the superb senior leadership team already in place at HSF.”

The last 18 months have been a whirlwind for Lee and HSF Affiliates,  with Lee overseeing the launch of Buffett’s new real estate franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was created to take the place of the Prudential Real Estate brand, which is slated to disappear when the last franchise rights to the name expire in the 2020s.

Since welcoming its first brokerage on Sept. 23, BHHS’s network has grown to more than 70 firms.

Lee, a perennial member of Inman News’ 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders, will continue in a senior advisory role at HSF Affiliates through 2015.