Home61, South Florida’s homegrown tech brokerage, has shut down.
The Midtown Miami-based firm, led by co-founder Olivier Grinda, closed its doors in December, as first reported by the South Florida Business Journal. Grinda said he will re-open the company as a 100 percent commission brokerage beginning on Thursday, under a new business model.
Home61 launched in September 2014, with the goal of disrupting the real estate industry. The startup said it differentiated itself from the competition with its back-end technology and lead-generation.
In recent years, the brokerage industry has seen increased consolidation due to the high cost of operating brick-and-mortar locations, competition from the internet, and rising commission splits.
Home61 ultimately closed its doors due to high fixed costs, including technology and support staff, its co-founder said. The firm offered commission splits that were 50-50 for deals involving leads generated in-house, and 75-25 for agent-generated deals. Home61 generated 14,000 leads a year, but that wasn’t enough, Grinda said.
“Our model was always profitable on a per-agent business but we had difficulty finding enough agents,” he said. “We would have needed about 100 agents active, ideally 150, and we would have been doing well… It was really meant for scale.”
Over its five-year lifespan, Home61 raised $5.3 million, including money from Grinda, who built several startups in his native Brazil: e-commerce sites like Shoes4You, ClickOn and BrandsClub. Other investors include FJ Labs, Founders Fund, Kima Ventures, TA Ventures, Rok Acquisitions, and German Ventures.
Home61 completed 2,301 closings and was involved in over $200 million in sales. Last year, it tripled its margins and closed $60 million in sales volume. “In 2019, we worked a lot on sales management. We were able to triple our results, unfortunately a little too late,” Grinda said.
At one point, Home61 had 120 agents, but only about 20 were active. Last year, it had about 50 active agents out of 106.
Now, Grinda said he will operate Home61 as a 100 percent commission brokerage in the long term, meaning the agents keep full commissions and pay a $199 subscription fee, per-transaction fees and payments other à la carte services. Once Home61 sells its domain name, which belongs to the investors, Grinda said he will change the name of the company. Other assets that Home61 is selling include lead generation websites and IT.
Grinda said it was important for him to be able to close the office “properly” with some cash in the bank that he gave to employees, giving agents and staff time to find a new brokerage. Instead of throwing a year-end holiday party, he threw a party to celebrate the company.
Grinda said he was humbled by his investors’ support and that he plans to sell the assets and return the proceeds to them.
“We’re a start-up. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t,” he said.