On the Move, Yo
You’ve seen the billboards. You’ve chuckled at the slogans.
Remember “Avoid the sins of commission”? Or how about “Keep the equity, you filthy animal”? Or there’s always this gem: “Best thing since 2-hour church.”
Regardless of which rectangle revved your engines, one thing is certain: When it comes to the real estate traditions of the past, Homie don’t play that.
For Sale by Entrepreneur
On his last day at Lehi-based Entrata in 2015, co-founder Johnny Hanna got a call from Mike Peregrina. He heard Hanna was leaving and had a new business proposition for him: Revolutionize the real estate industry for buyers and sellers.
“During the last housing crash, Mike had gotten burned by bad advice from industry pros,” says Hanna, who lives in Orem. “He lost everything, and he felt misled by the very people who were supposed to be the experts.”
Hanna was intrigued — and could relate.
“All of us have bought and sold homes with a realtor before,” he says, “and many of us have been underwhelmed by the service and overwhelmed by the price.”
But what sold Hanna on the spot? The name.
When Peregrina pitched the word “Homie,” Hanna went from open house attendee to motivated buyer.
“I call people ‘homie’ all the time — in texts, in life, in birthday messages. It really just sealed the deal for me,” he says. “I told Mike that day I didn’t care what the business was, if he named it ‘Homie,’ I was in.”
Beginnings + Backlash
So co-founders Hanna, Peregrina and Mike Trionfo (the latter two affectionately known as Mike P. and Mike T. around the office) banded together to create Homie.
The premise? With modern technology and licensed agents, Homie charges a flat fee (as opposed to a sale price percentage) that is only paid when the house sells. On average, Homie says it saves its sellers $10,000.
As you might expect, traditional realtors aren’t super jazzed about this new neighbor in town. In fact, it’s been anything but homey going up against one of the most established industries in the books.
“The real estate industry is a powerful lobbyist — they donate more to political campaigns than any other lobby group in the nation,” Hanna says. “We’ve had so many people come up to us and say, ‘You’re taking on the real estate cartel? Whoa!’ Anytime you hear the word ‘cartel’ you know you’re in for a challenge.”
Homie has faced intense backlash from realtors, politicians and even some of the public. But the company has faced that backlash head on with aggressive marketing, a focus on education and resounding results.
“The backlash can be discouraging, but we’ve bonded as a company because of it,” says Hanna. who serves as CEO. “Backlash can also be pretty fun when happy customers jump in and totally have your back.”
Turning Heads (And Homes)
In the four years since it launched, Homie has grown to be the largest residential real estate office in Utah, and they have expanded their services to offer loan, title and insurance options (with more offerings to come).
They have moved into the Phoenix and Las Vegas markets — with plans to eventually go national. They have 250 employees. And they just announced a funding round of $23 million.
“We’ve grown because our model works,” Hanna says. “There was recently a study done at BYU that showed we sell homes, on average, eight days faster than the average agent and for 1.2 percent more money — and that’s not even accounting for our lower fee! If anything we should be charging more than a traditional realtor. But we won’t. Our low price is the key to disrupting this industry.”
Love ’em or resent ’em, that’s the stuff of headlines right there.
Or I-15 billboards, as the case may be.
Rollin’ With The Homies: Homie’s 4 Core Values
- Loyalty // “We’ve Got Your Back.” Many companies state that the customer comes first, but Homie believes that when employees come first, we are all happier, more invested, and able to better serve our customers.
- Humility // “Check Yourself.” Homies are open to learning and receptive to coaching and feedback. Teamwork is nothing without give and take. Homies care more about progress than perfection.
- Disruption // “The Status Ain’t Quo.” Homie hires people for their cause, not their craft. In order to change a 100-year-old industry with the 2nd largest lobbying power, Homies refuse to let the status quo shape our perspective.
- Balance // “Fight For Your Right.” Work is part of a Homie’s life, but it’s not a Homie’s entire life. Homies are encouraged to ask for help when they feel overloaded. It’s not about how to get more things done — it’s about how to get the right things done.
Let’s Be Real
“I used to try to appear on the top of my game — especially in front of employees. I tried to control their perception of me. I’m done with that. It’s caused me pain. We had a company meeting recently where I was vulnerable about my struggles and mental health, And afterward they applauded. One voice in my head said it was just because I was the boss. The other voice — the right voice — told me they were validating me. I got so emotional. I felt heard. After that meeting, several employees shared their own struggles. I was shocked by the response. We all crave authenticity, And it needs to start with us leaders. I promise you that an open, healthy dialogue around mental health will benefit our companies in the long run.”
— Johnny Hanna