HomeServices CEO Gino Blefari: ‘Where there is chaos, there is opportunity’
Blefari has seen the ups and downs of the market during his four decades in the industry, which helps him keep his sights on profitability and performance.
- Discipline and a focus on “hard decisions” enables HomeServices to control expenses and remain profitable.
- A system that prioritizes teamwork and accountability is part of the company’s “secret sauce.”
- Because the company is vertically integrated, HomeServices is shielded in a more challenging economy.
Editor's note: The high-flying residential real estate industry came back to earth in 2022, with losses, layoffs and the quick cooling of an overheated market. We're having 1-1 conversations with the industry's most influential leaders to learn how they are handling this "reset moment."
At HomeServices of America, president and CEO Gino Blefari is focused on generating "sustained profitable performance through the most challenging of markets like the one we are in today."
Blefari is no stranger to shifting real estate markets. He has seen and experienced most every challenge and opportunity the industry has to offer, Franchise Times reported in 2017. "I learned a long time ago that the facts don't cease to exist just because I ignore them; but please keep in mind that where there is chaos, there is opportunity," said Blefari, known for his confidence, civility and unflappability.
At HomeServices, Blefari oversees a network of 55 brands that comprise most every stage of the real estate experience, from transactions and mortgage lending to title, escrow and insurance. "Our business leaders are focused on the hard decisions that need to be made when revenue becomes challenged, and expenses need to be addressed," Blefari said.
Yet today's market can vex even the industry's most seasoned veterans. Blefari's solution is to remain disciplined and provide the clarity and vision to move the company through an eventful year for the industry, to say the least.
"Over the last several years, a lot of companies have entered the market with unsustainable models focused primarily on driving top-line revenue with the goal of going public and receiving a multiple of revenue from the market. But, in today's market, that strategy no longer works. Investors expect companies to show a profit, and controlling expenses is critical to delivering profitable performance," Blefari said.
Blefari studies the economy and anticipates market direction so that he can formulate the best responses for his company. "As Wayne Gretsky once famously said, 'skate to where the puck is going to be,'" Blefari said.
Teamwork: HSoA's 'secret sauce'
Blefari is a firm believer in mentorship, coaching and management. "I understand how important it is to connect, and throughout my career, my mission has been to help others achieve their goal faster than they otherwise would in my absence," said Blefari.
Relationship-building is also fundamental to the company's operations. "At HomeServices, we work within a system that prioritizes and values team chemistry, accountability, and teamwork," Blefari told Real Estate News. "Our system is the key ingredient in our secret sauce and how we have been able to outperform our competitors," Blefari said.
"It's why we have in-person meetings, recognition events and conferences. Without a doubt, these events are the most effective way to strengthen connections and build relationships," he said.
Leading and influencing
Blefari has led HomeServices of America since 2019, but he has been on a leadership track since launching his real estate career in the early 1980s, founding and holding executive roles at multiple brokerage companies. He brings his decades of real estate acumen to social media and his blog, the "REthink report," where he dishes out thoughts on leadership. He says that mentors and associates have helped to influence and inform his own growth. Blefari uses his online platforms to forward that wisdom.
Blefari's approach to success, grounded in Midwestern folksiness, is similar to Warren Buffet's style of leadership at Berkshire Hathaway, headquartered in Nebraska. "Having a fearless mindset is waking up in the morning ready to take on the day full of energy and with a positive attitude," Blefari said. "If leaders aren't taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally, they won't be able to take care of the health of their organizations and their team members."
Increasing market share
So what opportunities does Blefari see in a cooling real estate market where the days of record-low interest rates are over and real estate companies are reporting declining profits?
"HomeServices appreciates a contracting market, because for those that are not running their business well, it provides an opportunity for us to increase our market share," Blefari said.
Since the company is vertically integrated, HomeServices is better shielded in a more challenging economy. And, with fewer competitors in lending, for example, the company's lending businesses — Prosperity Home Mortgage and HomeServices Lending — can pick up business as others exit the market.
"While margins are being squeezed in nearly all our business lines, having profitable businesses, like insurance, adds to our bottom line," Blefari said. "To date, HomeServices is profitable in all our businesses. Not everyone can say that."