Utah’s troubled Homie made ‘a leadership change’ — who’s in charge?

The real estate company has been secretive about recent layoffs and the departure of its CEO and co-founder Mike Peregrina.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A billboard for the real estate company Homie, along Interstate 15 in Salt Lake City on Wednesday November 22, 2023.

Homie no longer has a CEO.

Its management team is now leading the company under the “direction of the board of advisors,” according to Homie’s vice president of marketing, Sarah Edelman.

“Homie has made a leadership change, aligning with our relentless pursuit of disrupting the real estate sector,” Edelman wrote in an email in response to questions from The Tribune asking whether co-founder and president of Homie Mike Peregrina was still acting as the CEO.

Mike Peregrina took over as CEO a little more than a year ago when co-founder Johnny Hanna stepped down in Oct. 2022 amid substantial layoffs.

Homie has been largely quiet about the latest rounds of layoffs and leadership changes.

What is Homie?

In early marketing materials, Homie described itself as “a real estate technology company changing the way real estate is bought and sold by eliminating high fees and commissions.”

In tech jargon, Homie and others with a similar business model are “proptech” – property technology companies that use platforms or automation. The company quickly grew and expanded into five states — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.

The company boasts that “Homie saves sellers over $10,000 per transaction” by charging a flat fee rather than a 3% buyer agent commission.

A tricky real estate market

In February 2022, when Homie announced it laid off nearly 28% of its staff, then-CEO Johnny Hanna told the Deseret News “Record low inventories have absolutely played a role in this. 2021 was already an incredibly competitive year and we started out this year with even fewer homes than the same time last year. And it’s even more competitive.”

Since then, the housing market has remained difficult. Utah housing markets are the least affordable in state history, The Tribune reported in September.

The Tribune reported on Nov. 6 that Homie had gone from employing around 600 people to 130, and now, to likely around 40, according to multiple sources who asked to remain anonymous for fear of employment and legal repercussions. Those sources estimated that roughly 90 other employees were let go last month. (Homie would not confirm how many employees were laid off.)

“Similar to many companies in Utah, Homie has made the necessary changes to continue to operate in this challenging real estate and high-interest rate environment,” Edelman wrote in an email on Oct. 31.

What’s next for Homie?

Edelman cited a recent case ordering the National Association of Realtors and other brokerages to pay damages of $1.8 billion for violating antitrust law. “It’s a decision that has the potential to rewrite the entire structure of the real estate industry in the United States, lowering the cost of moving homes by reducing commissions,” The New York Times wrote.

Edelman, at Homie, noted that the recent decision underscored “the importance of prioritizing consumer welfare over conventional practices now more than ever.” Unlike traditional real estate brokerages, Homie charges a flat rate fee rather than a commission based on the home’s sale price. (Homie also advertises giving consumers 25% of the buyer commission).

“Homie remains committed in its mission to empower consumers by maximizing cost savings,” Edelman wrote on Tuesday, “the company continues to operate with an unwavering dedication to providing disruptive solutions in the real estate space.”