Gino Blefari, President and CEO, HomeServices of America.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Butterflies, the “Easy Bus” and a plan for tough times 

HomeServices of America CEO Gino Blefari knows what agents are facing — and what they’re capable of. His advice? Keep going. Winning is possible.

May 16, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • The market is challenging, and that isn’t going to change soon.
  • Things don’t necessarily get easier, we just become better at handling hard things.
  • Struggle turns caterpillars into butterflies and good agents into better ones.

Listening to Gino Blefari talk about thriving in a tough market, about the characteristics of a winner, even about butterflies (yes, butterflies) feels game-changing.

So it makes sense when the president and CEO of HomeServices of America, who has been hailed as the industry's most powerful leader, says he sees himself as a coach.

Blefari's role, in many ways, is to impart his simple plan for success — and to help people understand that "simple" is not the same thing as "easy."

Success, he says, comes from learning how to handle hard things better.

Blefari travels frequently, and what he's hearing most often is what everyone is hearing: Inventory and affordability are a challenge and will be for a while. Would-be sellers don't want to trade their 3% mortgage for 6.5% or more. And prices are still going up.

"When I'm with agents, it's like, 'Hey, if interest rates come down, then it's going to be easier. If this or that happens, the market is going to be easier.' But the bottom line is it never becomes easier. What happens is we become better at handling hard, right?"

He leans forward and locks eyes as he says it. "Don't you agree with that?" Yes, coach. (Just try not at least nodding in that situation.)

"Don't just sit there waiting for the Easy Bus to come. The Easy Bus never comes. I just try to remind them that struggle is good."

In fact, the struggle is what makes you the best version of yourself. The struggle may even be the thing that keeps you alive.

What butterflies and Warren Buffett have in common

"Sometimes I'll use the metaphor of a butterfly in the chrysalis," he said, to convey that there are no shortcuts. Blefari knows this because it's not just a metaphor to him.

"I remember sitting in my backyard one time and watching this butterfly, trying and trying to get out, and it had such an impact on me. I got a pair of scissors out of the kitchen and cut the chrysalis open, thinking I was helping, and you know what happened? It just laid on the ground and eventually just died. For me that was powerful."

He has a saying: "It's the hard that makes you great." Embracing the struggle will separate you from the competition because "everyone just wants the easy, right?" He leans forward again. Right, coach!

Blefari founded Intero Real Estate Services, then stepped into his current role in 2014 after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway acquired Intero. Speaking of Buffett, and hard work: "You look at the Forbes 400 richest people in the world" — including Buffett of course — "what did they do? They frickin' worked their ass off," said Blefari. "They outworked and outhustled everyone around. They're not there for good looks or charisma, they just outworked everyone."

"So when someone like you asks me what's working for agents right now, I say you know what's working? When they work!"

This may be a tough market, but more people than ever are using agents, he points out. Winning is possible. It's just not easy.

Get the latest real estate news delivered to your inbox.