Vitals: HomeServices of America
Years in Business: 22
Size: 43,000-plus agents in more than 900 offices
Regions Served: Major markets coast to coast
2019 Sales Volume: $134.5 billion
2019 Transactions: 332,613
For more than 20 years, HomeServices of America has focused on being the No. 1 provider of homeownership services over the course of its customers’ lives. Last year, Gino Blefari stepped into the role of CEO. He previously served as CEO of HSF Affiliates, which operates the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Real Living Real Estate franchise networks, and now serves as its chairman.
“We have, and always will, focus on leveraging technology to support our mission of delivering a superior customer experience,” says Blefari. “With that in mind, we are uniquely positioned to further streamline the purchase process across the four key components of the transaction (brokerage, mortgage, settlement services and property and casualty insurance) to the benefit of our agents as they build lasting relationships with their customers at every stage of homeownership, as well as deliver post-closing services that help our customers manage and maintain their home and protect their investment.”
What was noteworthy for the company in 2019?
Gino Blefari: Despite the lack of inventory felt across the country, we were able to celebrate several accomplishments. Our agents facilitated nearly 333,000 transactions, which places us, once again, as the No. 1 real estate company in the nation, based on transactions. We completed our coast-to-coast transition of our wholly-owned mortgage company to Prosperity Home Mortgage, which we acquired in 2017, and with the historically low interest rates, our mortgage companies (which include Prosperity Home Mortgage, Trident Mortgage Company and HomeServices Lending) closed more than 35,000 loans.
How do you stay on top of industry trends and innovations?
GB: While there is an abundance of real estate-related literature, in addition to economists, technologists and other subject matter experts, I believe that managers and agents are the most authoritative source. In 2019, I visited 32 of our companies, which are located around the country, and had the opportunity to talk with several thousand managers and agents about what they were seeing in the marketplace and what their customers were asking for. Along those same lines, I regularly participate in agent conferences hosted by the top trainers and coaches.
What market segments/niches have you recently expanded into—or are you considering expanding into?
GB: HomeServices is the largest real estate company by transactions, our mortgage company is a Top 20 lender, HomeServices Insurance was recently recognized as a Top Insurance Workplace and we are a premier provider of settlement services with operations in major markets across the country. For more than 20 years, we have provided our buyers and sellers with an exceptional, all-inclusive residential real estate experience. In 2020, we will accelerate the growth of the Berkshire Hathaway Commercial Services franchise network and will continue to expand Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ global footprint beyond today’s international locations of Berlin, London, Milan, Dubai, Spain and Portugal. [Editor’s Note: After press time, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices announced its Canadian expansion.]
What’s the biggest mistake you made in the business?
GB: Early on in my career, I missed the opportunity to right-size my business before there was a downturn in the market. This was a valuable lesson, one which has played a significant role in shaping my decisions. I believe that as leaders, we must keep a close eye on the demands and opportunities of today, while never losing sight of the dynamics, risks and trends on the horizon.
What are some new technologies you’ve implemented, and how are they helping your agents and consumers?
GB: Our singular and shared focus is centered around delivering a superior real estate experience, and we believe that technology is best used when it supports that mission. Our companies are continually investing in best-in-class digital tools and cloud-based technology to help agents advance their business and modernize the transaction for buyers and sellers. This focus also extends to our commitment to creating a culture of world-class cybersecurity aimed at keeping customer and company information safe. Our all-inclusive offering, together with other strong layers of defense, provide our customers with the peace of mind that their transaction will not only be accurate and on-time, but also safe and secure. We believe that HomeServices is now not only the largest, but the most secure real estate company in the world.
How are you preparing your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s consumer, especially first-time homebuyers and millennials?
GB: More than 55 years ago, John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life…and those who look only to the past or the present…are certain to miss the future.” I am certain we will not miss the future. Our job, as leaders, is to ensure that we recognize the dynamics, provide the tools and vision, then capitalize on the change.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.