June 2019 Top Producers

June was hot! Not just for temperatures, but also for home sales. Welcome to the first summer edition of Top Producers.

Mario Ferrante at Help-U-Sell Metropolitan in Woodhaven, MI, leads again this month. His team has clocked in with a total of 25 sides. He is literally setting bar for this organization in terms of success by sheer volume.

Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate's Debra Schmidt

Coming in at a close second is Debra Schmidt of Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate in Owatonna, MN. With just herself, her agent Duane Ringhofer, and a team of two administrative assistants, Debra’s office has been steadily climbing ranks here all year. We are impressed with the tenacity and progress.

Marc Dosik and his team at Help-U-Sell Federal City in Washington, D.C., brings in an impressive 17 sides.

This wouldn’t be a typical Top Producers report if there were not some neck-and-neck ties to speak of, and this month there are three.

Jack Bailey of Help-U-Sell Greensboro and David Bartels at Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate both come in fourth place with 16 total sides each.

These ties make the top ten untidy, but the competition is fun. 

Office NameBuyerSellerTotal
Heritage Real
Federal City
Direct Savings
Real Estate
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty6713
Detwiler Realty
Select Real
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty257

Over here in the Gross Sales Volume portion of our report, big changes have occurred!

David Bartels, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty

David Bartels of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA, has nabbed first place by a rather wide margin of 9.7 million in sales. 

Marc Dosik at Help-U-Sell Federal City in Washington, D.C., does a double turn in our top three list here, as well as above, with $6.2 million. 

Patrick Wood at Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, CA, continues to stay the strong course he’s been setting all year, coming in at $3.5 million.

A round of applause to everyone on a serious start to summer! 

Office NameAmount
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$9,732,500.00
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty $6,205,501.00
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$3,557,000.00
Help-U-Sell Greensboro $3,514,300.00
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate$3,101,900.00
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings
Real Estate 
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty$2,895,000.00
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan $2,427,011.00
Help-U-Sell Central Properties $2,396,250.00
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate $2,335,100.00

Creating Elements of Success

Jason Mannino joined Help-U-Sell 951 Realty in Murrieta, California about a year ago, which is owned by Ronnie Lee Thompson, Jr..

For 15 years, Jason was a professional racquetball player, he later channeled his love of the sport into a business. He explained, “I took over the Professional Racquetball Association. I invested in it, built it up to a place I was happy with, and sold it. However, it wasn’t enough to retire, so I looked at what else appeals to me. My wife and I buy properties for investments and have had our hands in real estate for over 25 years now. I started focusing so much on real estate, that it just made sense for me to go and get a license. I called another Help-U-Sell owner for advice because my plan was to offer home listings for 1%. He was kind enough to introduce me to the concept of Help-U-Sell and Ronnie. I most enjoy working relationships that are collaborative, so it has worked out.”

Once Jason got acclimated, he set about putting his plans for success in place. “I’m naturally a fast speaker, and I convey immediately that I am serious with people. One of the first things I perfected is my pitch for when I am meeting a potential client for a listing. I always try to make sure that I am seen last. I tell the client that it takes 2 hours for competitors to display everything they have in their offerings, because that’s how long it takes for them to convince the client that it is okay to for the realtor to overcharge them. My listing presentation is about 20 minutes. At the end of the pitch, I know I have had their attention and I haven’t worn out the welcome. I’ve done my job relaying the facts and they are enthusiastic about listing with us,” Jason said.

Over the last few months, Jason has been putting various marketing techniques into play which are culminating in listings and solid leads. Having caught our attention by showing up on a recent edition of our Top Producers list, the pieces of Jason’s plan includes a multi-pronged approach of getting the Help-U-Sell name out there. He went on to share, “I recently started implementing predictive analytics. You get a list of 600 names of people inside our area who are most likely to sell their home. We send them our ‘Sold and Saved’ postcards. Once that has been executed, I make it a point that all 600 of those people get called. This is usually done via a virtual marketing staff; the cost is quite reasonable, around $75. I just ordered 20,000 door hangers, so we can hit them again with that messaging. At the end of that program, I’ve spent maybe $600. Getting just one listing more than makes up for the initial investment, and generally several promising leads arise from these efforts as well. We keep hitting them with the message of home seller savings in different formats, and that reinforcement makes it stick.”

Another element to their advertising initiative is working with a company called Adwerx, which creates specialty digital marketing specific to realtors. “Our work with them is targeting 10,000+ homeowners within our area every month, and it creates awareness among prospects within the zip codes we designate,” he added.

An in-house piece of marketing from the Help-U-Sell corporate office that is always popular is the “Good, Better, Best” brochure. “I have never seen a more perfect marketing piece, not only does it set us apart from our competitors but it makes a lasting impression on our clients. It is easy to understand and perfectly presents the crux of this business proposition as getting full service and saving money. It’s all right there in four pages. It’s not overwhelming like some silly 400-page PowerPoint presentation. They get it immediately,” Jason stated.

With these programs going in earnest since February, Jason has been budgeting about $2,000 a month in spending. He said, “None of this is an exact science. You pick what you want to do and start. You see the first results. You tweak it and test it again. After creating a stronger base of name recognition, the rest is a fairly easy sell because the product we have is hard to beat.”

He continued, “As of this interview, I have seven or eight listings, three are in escrow, and three will be going live on Saturday. Last year, I maybe did four or five listings. All of the efforts I put into place in February are starting to come to fruition now. My original goal was to have one transaction per month and I’m already past 12 for the year. I will be disappointed if I do less than 24. Anything more than 5 listings in a month I find overwhelming, so I try to keep it at that level, which is a reasonable amount for me to handle.”

Understanding the market is another key element to success. The median price for a home in Murrieta is roughly $425,000, with a common range being between $450,000 and $500,000. Jason said laughing, “What everybody wants is the ‘Unicorn’ listing, which is a home with a pool, for under $500,000. Those homes sell immediately, you almost never see them online because they’re gone too quickly. In my experience, they’re generally gone on the first day, and they do not sell for under $520,000. They are the golden goose of home listings here.”

He makes no bones about being better than the new faces in the market. “There is competition, but it is subpar on multiple levels. I’ve been told that agents make $1,000 per sale at Purplebricks, and at Redfin it is around $1,000-$1,500. The agents are not going to be motivated to save you money or care about the client experience because there is no stake in providing better service or individual attention. I save clients even more money if they sell both sides with us. Our quality is better from everything to the open house flyer with professional HD photos versus shots taken with a cell phone camera by our competitors. We are not cutting corners and it shows. I offered a 50% discount to a buyer recently, as the transaction cost was only $350 and the commission I was going to make was $7,000. Additionally, I gave him a break on selling his mother’s house, he was thrilled,” Jason shared.

Ultimately, Jason believes success comes down to having the personality to sell. “There’s plenty of inventory that will move if you price it right. I turn down listings if we can’t agree on a price because there’s no chance of success. Having that conversation is difficult with clients, but you can only be honest when you provide the real estate property reports and show the comps. Being sharp and staying on top of things make you competitive and clients take notice. That’s how you win here.” Spoken like a true sportsman.

Top Producers May 2019

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of Top Producers at Help-U-Sell Real Estate. May turned out to be an incredibly busy month for our industrious Broker/Owners and their associates, with the results coming through as a “Top Eleven” instead of a Top Ten, thanks to a four-way tie at the bottom. We love that striving has deposited so many folks in exactly the same place of success. 

Once again, Mario Ferrante of Help-U-Sell Metropolitan in Woodhaven, Michigan crowns the top of the list with a total of 28 sides. We predict the half-year report next month will look grand for Mario’s group.

Richard Criccio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties continues to make a strong second place for the year with 14 sides. Early prediction is on his office being second in the half-year report as well.

The ever-busy Jack Bailey Of Help-U-Sell Greensboro continues to toggle between two offices, leading a coaching group, and teaching people in the community fiscal literacy. Jack’s crackerjack team of three clinches third place. 

Mark Dosik of Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty in Washington, DC, comes in just one shy for a fourth-place finish.

OfficeSellerBuyerTotal Sides
Federal City
Direct Savings
Real Estate
Real Estate
Mike Bowling
4 48
Select Real

Over here on the Gross Sales Volume list you’ll find some familiar faces, of course, as well as a couple of unexpected pop ups. New folks are breaking into our Top Ten and having a successful 2019. We salute you.

Richard Cricchio

Per usual, we find Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties at the top of our list here with an impressive $6 million in sales for May. Always a job well done in Hawaii.

Marc Dosik of Help-U-Sell Federal City Real Estate was in fourth place on our list above, but achieved second place over here with $4.4 million.

In third place, we’re excited to announce it is Mitch Candler of Help-U-Sell Tri-Valley Homes in Pleasanton, CA. Mitch closed nearly $3.5 million dollars in gross sales.

A special shout-out to the other new face in this edition, Kurt Steffien of Help-U-Sell Coast and Valley in Santa Ana, CA.

Congratulations to everyone for a strong month. Summer is heating up!

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$6,048,000.00
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty$4,404,389.00
Help-U-Sell Tri-Valley Homes$3,499,000.00
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$3,119,000.00
Help-U-Sell Central Properties$2,952,832.00
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$2,767,833.00
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan$2,519,693.00
Help-U-Sell Coast and Valley$2,411,000.00
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate$2,238,000.00
Help-U-Sell Legacy$2,011,602.00

The Magic is Set-Fee and Great Service

Walt Hippauf of Help-U-Sell Peoples Real Estate got his real estate license in 1986. As a diverse young man, a job in manufacturing prompted an interest in design drafting. He pursued an Associate’s degree in engineering and formed a small weekend band where he played the saxophone to help pay for college.

After his engineering career, Walt started a catering and music service for weddings. While that business was not meant to be, the entrepreneurial spirit had taken root. He next turned to selling insurance, and a client invited him to join their real estate business. He did both for a while, but eventually devoted all his time to real estate. “I took to real estate like a fish to water. I discovered a new market for modular housing, and purchased buildable lots where I offered buyers the lot and designed a custom modular home. I’d built upwards of 25 homes at the time, but unfortunately lots were few, so I pursued other real estate opportunities,” he recounted.

Walt received his Brokers license in 1994 and opened an office in 1996. Catering to first-time home buyers in the inner city, Walt sold and listed homes for under $50,000. He explained, “Because of the low price, I had a $3,000 set fee, with the commission split between the buyer agent and selling agent. I was handling 70% of the real estate sales in that community and was doing great. In 2001, the economic conditions shifted so I moved the brokerage to Northeast Philly. My brokerage name was overshadowed by traditional big-name players. I looked for a franchise with name recognition and met a Help-U-Sell Real Estate regional manager. I loved the Help-U-Sell model. It allowed me to offer sellers a well-received choice and I was doing 50 to 100 sides a year.”

The Philadelphia housing market covers high, middle and lower markets. Walt said, “Home prices here are all over the map. Some are $70,000 and many average out at $300,000. Look again, and you’ll see homes that are $500,000 to $1 million. That is irrelevant to us because we concentrate on promoting full service for a set-fee. We are great at convincing people to list with us when we show them the full marketing plan and the savings.”  

As 2007-2008 revealed the early stages of the recession, Walt did not take the threat lying down. “Collapse seemed imminent, but I was not going to hang it up. The business slowed down by half, and I had to lay off staff. I kept everything simple. I looked into doing REOs, but there were many big companies already handling those transactions. Before the recession, I had a good business, so I kept doing what I know how to do. I tapped my Center of Influence contacts, and stayed afloat with referrals. I was also doing full page ads in the real estate magazines, and had leads from the internet. I stayed in a bare bones mode until June 2009,” Walt explained.

Just as the economy and home sales were picking up, Walt suffered a personal injury. He shared, “Once again, it is not in my personality to give up. I ran my business from my laptop while convalescing in a nursing home. Tenacity is everything: I quickly got three listings, three houses under contract, and three settlements. I conducted my meetings through GoToMeeting and became a master at e-brokering with the help of DocuSign. I thought, if I can achieve all that under trying personal circumstances, what can I do once I’m able? I did listing presentations online and met the client in person to sign contracts, take pictures and install signs. I’d send the buyers the contracts via DocuSign.”

Recently, Walt’s thoughts are on the next steps for his business and life. “I originally planned to be out of real estate by 2020. However, a previous client approached me with the idea of mentoring their son, who had an interest in learning real estate. Henry Rutledge wanted a career change from engineering, to which I could relate. At 30 years old, this young man is just getting his feet wet. When he is fully acclimated, he is looking to buy my business in 2022,” Walt shared.

While Henry is learning and chasing leads, Walt stays busy managing the business. “Not including what Henry achieves, my goal is to personally do 24 to 30 closings for the year. My operating costs are low, so I’ve given Henry the lead to expand our marketing initiatives. This includes blitz signs and targeted marketing. We’re looking to do more with YouTube, Facebook and text messaging. I’m not turning down any leads, and passing many over to Henry. I like the drip emails; I use them for the holidays, indicating that I’m still here and looking for referrals. All of our leads go into the drip email list immediately. I also use the Arounds postcards. Lead tracking and Center of Influence contacts are a huge piece of what Jack Bailey emphasizes in our weekly coaching group. I’ve been in Jack’s group for over 10 years now. He is a great guy and we have a wonderful group for bouncing ideas off each other,” stated Walt.

Having spent the last 33 years in real estate, Walt added, “I’ve done everything. I’ve tried everything. There is no magic – aside from the set-fee and great service. I used to enjoy golfing, dancing, and going to the casino, very often winning; those things are no longer possible. I’ve been married to my bride, Marci, since 1982. Between us, we have two sons, three daughters, 6 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. I’ve built a business I have enjoyed and a plan for passing that on to someone who is as passionate about it as I am, so I am still winning.”

Going Above & Beyond in Edmond/OKC

Lana Erwin is on a roll this month. As the broker/owner of Help-U-Sell Edmond/OKC in Oklahoma City, she had five houses listed, and was on the cusp of listing three more at the time of this interview. She’s been cultivating her Help-U-Sell business for 16 years now, but Lana’s background was quite varied before her career in real estate.

In the late 70s and 80s, Lana worked for several companies in various computer and accounting jobs. Oil was the primary industry in Oklahoma, and the oil bust during the 80s forced many of the top employers and banks to close. Many people left Oklahoma to seek new employment. At 29 years old, Lana sold everything except what would fit in a one bedroom apartment, and moved to Largo, Florida. She briefly sold used IBM equipment, but soon discovered a market for used CAD equipment and started a company. Relocating back to Oklahoma in 1993, she continued the company until the onset of IBM Pentium products made mainframe systems obsolete and it was time to reinvent the future once again.

“I always had an interest in real estate. After flipping a few houses, I decided to get my license and become a Realtor. A friend of mine was working for Help-U-Sell, and I worked as a buyer’s agent for 2 years. When the office was put up for sale, I got my broker’s license and bought it,” she said.

Not only has she persevered, but Lana’s presence has grown over the years. The volume of incoming calls for listings has been steadily on the rise, and her ability to close the sale has landed her on a recent edition of our Top Producers list. “Some of the people whom I served well keep coming back to me. Someone I helped years ago kept my number and just called me. One new listing was a random call. Another client I sold a home to a few years ago called because he needs to get his mom’s house on the market. Some of my business comes from people who have moved here from somewhere else, and they used Help-U-Sell in their previous city and liked the experience. My referrals keep me busy. When I bought the office there were two other offices in Edmond, one in Oklahoma City, one in Norman, one in Stillwater and one in Tulsa, but I am proud that my office still stands. I believe the longevity, brand recognition, savings, and service account for a lot of that,” Lana explained.

To push name recognition beyond referrals, Lana uses social media advertising. “I focus the most on Facebook. I regularly do a lot of paid boosts featuring houses that have recently undergone a price reduction or to advertise my open houses. That is where I get the most traction,” she shared, “When the market gets tight, there is certainly an advantage for consumers to seek us out. This is aided by the Help-U-Sell website. It is one of the things corporate does really well and it has worked great for me.”

Situated in a mid-level market, the median price range for a house is around $250,000. Last year, Lana closed 40 transactions and knows she will do at least that same this year. She added, “There are a lot of players in the real estate industry here. There’s a company billing themselves as flat fee. There’s another business that will do ‘listings only’ on the MLS. There are a few realtors who would negotiate commissions if consumers knew that they could do that. People don’t want to pay the 6% and that fact keeps me competitive in this market.”

Difficult times often spurn people towards ingenuity and streamlining their processes to become more efficient. “During slower times, I’ve been a combination of dedicated enough and lucky enough that I always made it. During the recession specifically, I did my own thing and kept the doors open. What I learned during that time is, once I started doing everything myself, I wound up preferring it that way. Initially, I followed a lot of what I was shown by the previous owner, and that has worked well for me. However, when I was passing tasks off to others, I felt like I was wasting time waiting for answers. I discovered I like knowing everything going on about a deal. If a client has a question, I like that I don’t have to call someone else to find out the answer or status of something. Since I’m handling everything, I know everything. I’m on top of everything. That streamlining became a lot easier for me when I moved my office into my house. It allows me to be home more, even though I work longer hours. I don’t mind doing it, of course, but if I’m going to, I definitely want to be comfortable,” Lana said laughing, “Besides, my dogs appreciate it, too.”

Ultimately, Lana has learned to take busy times and slow times in stride. She explained, “I call on my old clients. I keep well apprised of the market and trends. What I’ve come to realize is when people move, the market moves. That’s how you know the economy is doing what it’s supposed to do. I have clients tell me I am really thorough and go above and beyond; Then they tell other people and my business does well.”