Realtors face new competition in Utah

by Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America Bureau


SALT LAKE CITY — A real estate battle is brewing in Utah between tech start-up Homie and traditional real estate agents.

One side says do it yourself. The other: Trust professionals.

For the past year, the Homie smartphone app has allowed users to purchase a house with the push of a thumb and save thousands in commission fees.

“What we claim to do is that you can use our software, do the same amount of work whether you’d hired an agent or not and end up saving on average about $10,000 per family,” Homie CEO Johnny Hanna said.

Homie has also automated the process of selling a home and acquiring a home loan.

Hanna said the company will soon move to other states and believes its business model will change the industry.

“I think there’s gonna be a lot of other competitors,” he said. “I think that Realtors will have to adapt and become technology platforms just like us to continue to survive.”

While Homie is growing in popularity, not everyone is sold on the new company, including real estate agents.

Filipino real estate broker Eunice Lane has been in the business for 21 years. She said the industry is changing but believes the work Realtors do remains an important and essential part of the process.

“Why not hire a professional like us to take them by the hand and through the process, get all the inspection done, do the due diligence and disclosures reviewed, so there’s no issues by the time of possession,” she said.

Pinoy Realtor TJ Jones agrees. He said real estate agents are key to navigating the biggest investment most people will make and can even save their clients money.

“You can buy or sell a house 90 percent, do everything perfect, but that last 10 percent could cost you. And without that guidance or without that assurance from an expert that they’ve been down this road before, they know how this is going to go, it could be a lot more expensive,” he said.

As both sides strive to gain the trust of Utahans, the state’s real estate battle may only intensify in the coming months.

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