“People Appreciate What We Do”

Kurt Steffian, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Coast and Valley in Santa Ana, California, spent several years of his career in corporate finance for a Fortune 500 Company before making a change to real estate.  

“I provided lease financing to corporate America, supporting their IT departments’ equipment financing requirements, assisting mostly CFOs and CIOs. I always realized that ‘Corporate America’ doesn’t care about you.  As I grew older, I became open-minded to other possibilities of making money, but with a focus on life balance and being happy. I realized I could do something else and wanted to choose the next chapter wisely,” Kurt said.

He added, “I was initially attracted to real estate because I love working with people; that is enjoyable to me. I started out at a big brokerage with over 1000 agents. There were immediately noticeable drawbacks to being in a larger, faceless company and little help available for a person learning the real estate industry. Of course, I took classes. I once asked my manager questions, and he replied, ‘Why did I hire you?’ and walked away. I stayed there for two years, but it wasn’t an ideal experience.”

Having developed a love of real estate despite the “big broker” experience and wanting to be on his own, Kurt researched alternatives with the intention of purchasing a franchise. “Believing in the service you are providing is the most important tool to the sales representative. All of the real estate franchises offered the same model. I was searching for a customer experience I truly believed in and wanted to offer to the consumer. As if by fate, I ran into the Help-U-Sell Real Estate booth at a National Association of Realtors convention. I immediately understood the vision and value proposition. Help-U-Sell made sense to me!” Kurt exclaimed.

He continued, “For starters, I like that you can run this business lean. Since I previously worked for large brokers, I know how scattered and impersonal it can be firsthand. With every client, I always know where they are in the process because I handle the process from start to finish.”

“Secondly, we are unique compared to traditional brokerages. This business model makes sense to clients. When people call to inquire, they usually decide to move forward with Help-U-Sell over the phone. That’s due to the fact that we are ‘the best value in real estate’, and I offer an unconditional satisfaction guarantee. If they can find anyone who would do a better job, they are free to cancel the listing contract at any time prior to us selling their home. We are a full service brokerage, the same as any other Realtor. Our clients quickly learn our services are not standard, because we offer more for less. Every listing gets a custom URL and web site, additionally we use Matterport technology for state-of-the-art photos and videos. We host open houses and broker previews, and are always open to suggestions for additional marketing. We offer a total commitment to the client in support of our unconditional satisfaction guarantee,” he said.

“Finally, Help-U-Sell reduces the time I spend on my marketing efforts for expired and FSBO listings. The programs within our platform are easy to set-up and implement. The marketing is superior and there is a lot of brand recognition, especially here in California where our office representation is very high,” Kurt added.

To keep the business top-of-mind in his community, Kurt has strong relationships with professionals in other industries with a mutual interest. He elaborated, “I actively cultivate relationships with probate attorneys and divorce attorneys, and get a steady stream of referrals. They refer to us because everyone likes saving money, and we make them look good by offering their clients the best value and superior service during what is likely a trying time. Saving your clients money is never a bad thing, especially in California where much of the state is in a higher-priced market and they would stand to lose a lot of money from a 6% commission traditional sale.” 

Considering the Southern California market, he further clarified, “You commonly see properties sell from $400,000 to $700,000, which is a huge range. Inventory is a little tight right now, and you will see a two bedroom condo list for $700,000. Consumers are getting wise to a smart choice: pay an arbitrary percentage for commission, versus paying for services that are actually being rendered. We listen to the client and tailor ourselves to the consumer need. Our competitive advantage is obvious and the value proposition is clear to home sellers. People appreciate what we do. Meanwhile, we’re getting the job done and still making a profit. Help-U-Sell is the future of real estate.”

Michelle and Kurt Steffian

Kurt is hoping to close 50 transactions this year. “My goal is to complete a deal every week. However, I also have other priorities and being happy is one of them. I have a great family life and spend as much time as I can with my wife and children.”

Top Producers 9-Month Review, 2019

When you stack up the numbers from quarters one, two and three, they add up in an impressive way. For our 9-month review of Top Producers, 2019 is looking robust for many of our Help-U-Sell Broker/Owners.

A familiar face for much of 2019, and certainly for the entirety of 2018, is Mario Ferrante. His Help-U-Sell Metropolitan office in Woodhaven, Michigan has come in at 162 sides. Perhaps it is reasonably safe to say he will likely breach 200 sides with his team for the final quarter of the year.

Jack Bailey, ever the “man on the go” with his terrific team of two, is in second place with 105 sides. Are you wondering if it’s a good idea to get involved with Jack’s coaching groups? Resoundingly, yes.

Debra Schmidt with Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate in Owatonna, MN, had a significant uptick in sales over the summer season, launching her office into our stratosphere all summer and landing her in third place with a total of 87 sides. 

While we are excited for everyone on the list, tip of the hat to Mike Bowling in Yuma, AZ. Still in his first year as a Help-U-Sell Broker/Owner, it looks very likely he will be in our top ten for the year, which is just: “Job well done, Sir.” 

OfficeBuyerSellerTotal 
Help-U-Sell 
Metropolitan
61101162
Help-U-Sell 
Greensboro
4362105
Help-U-Sell
Heritage
Real Estate 
355287
Help-U-Sell 
Honolulu 
Properties
255277
Help-U-Sell
Direct Savings
Real Estate
314273
Help-U-Sell
Prestige
Properties
145771
Help-U-Sell 
Hanford/
Lemoore
224264
Help-U-Sell 
Detwiler Realty
193655
Help-U-Sell 
Mike Bowling
292655
Help-U-Sell 
Full Service
Realty
212546
Richard Cricchio

Over here in the Gross Sales Volume list, at the top, once again Richard  Criccio. Richard has been cruising at the top of this list for much of the year. He closes the Nine Months Review with $52.8 million in sales.

Patrick Wood at Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, California also makes a substantial showing with $38.6 million in sales.

David Bartels Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty also makes a fantastic showing by pulling in $30.8 million in sales over the 9 months.

If you have not done so yet, putting together your business goals for the 2020 year based on some of the information from these reports can serve as a useful planning tool and mapping busier or slower times of year. Best of luck to all of our industrious Brokers and their trusty agents trying to close the year out strong.

OfficeGross Sales Volume 
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$52,844,298
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$38,622,365
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$30,882,000
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$21,964,969
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan$16,842,786
Help-U-Sell Hanford/Lemoore$15,914,600
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes$14,893,000
Help-U-Sell Legacy$12,432,702
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate $12,336,550

Top Producers: Q3, 2019

It’s time for the 2019 Third Quarter Top Producers report. After several months of seeing one office primarily dominate the top spot in our Top Producers list, things have taken a dramatic and unexpected turn.

Jack Bailey of Help-U-Sell Greensboro in North Carolina was last reported as holding the second place position for three months running. Those numbers have stacked up to be first place for the quarter with 39 sides. 

Second place is a tie between Debra Schmidt’s office, Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate in Owatonna, MN, and Help-U-Sell Metropolitan in Woodhaven, MI,  run by Mario Ferrante. Both are coming in with 32 sides for the quarter.

Karen Detwiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle, PA,who topped our sides list for September, rounds out third place with 30.

Office BuyerSellerTotal
Help-U-Sell
Greensboro
201939
Help-U-Sell
Heritage
Real Estate 
151732
Help-U-Sell
Metropolitan
102232
Help-U-Sell
Detwiler Realty
92130
Help-U-Sell
Direct Savings
Real Estate
111425
Help-U-Sell
Honolulu
Properties
41822
Help-U-Sell
Hanford/
Lemoore
31720
Help-U-Sell
Prestige
Properties
61420
Help-U-Sell
Mike Bowling
9918
Richard Cricchio

We are used to seeing Richard Criccio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties at the top (or very close to the top) of our Gross Sales Volume list. At $17.7 million, he is in the lead by over $5 million and shows no signs of slowing down. 

By a difference of less than $600,000 Patrick Wood of Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, California takes second place with $11.8 million in sales. 

OfficeGross Sales Volume 
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties $  17,701,410
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties $  11,800,800
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty $    8,459,500
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes $    7,912,500
Help-U-Sell Greensboro $    7,902,081
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty $    6,714,200
Help-U-Sell Hanford/Lemoore $    5,569,800
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate  $    4,904,500
Help-U-Sell Bakersfield
Equity Savers
$    4,809,800

September 2019 Top Producers

September is full of surprises for our new issue of Top Producers. 

Karen Detwiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle, PA, has taken over the first place position with a whopping total of 12 sides for the month; eight of them coming from sellers. We’d love for her to share a total of what those sellers saved combined last month.

Jack Bailey, Help-U-Sell Greensboro

Jack Bailey comes in second with 11 total sides with his team at Help-U-Sell Greensboro in North Carolina. Fun side note: he has secured the second place position for three months running.

Last month, Ryan Joyce at Help-U-Sell Bakersfield Equity Savers in California and Richard Criccio’s office in Hawaii, Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, were both tied for sixth place. For September, both offices are tied for third place and each have 7 sides. That was a neat trick, fellas. 

The rest of the places: fourth, fifth, and sixth places are tied, too. Not sure what causes that except hard work and getting the Help-U-Sell name out there. Keep crushing it!

OfficeBuyerSellerTotal
Help-U-Sell
Detwiler Realty
4812
Help-U-Sell
Greensboro
5611
Help-U-Sell
Bakersfield
Equity Savers
257
Help-U-Sell
Honolulu
Properties
167
Help-U-Sell
Sunrise
336
Help-U-Sell
951 Realty
145
Help-U-Sell
Metropolitan
235
Help-U-Sell
Mike Bowling
325
Help-U-Sell
Edmond/OKC
224
Help-U-Sell
Legacy
224
Help-U-Sell
Treasure Coast
44

Lots of parity this month between our Sides list and our Gross Sales Volume list. The top four folks are the same – just in a different order. 

Richard Cricchio

Richard Criccio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is back to first place in our Gross Sales Volume category. With nearly $4.5 million in sales, it was clearly a productive month. 

Ryan Joyce at Help-U-Sell Bakersfield Equity Savers in California is no slouch! He tied for third in sides this month and claims second place here with $2.3 million. We wonder if he picked up a hot tip in Jack Bailey’s coaching group. Inquiring minds! 

Karen Detwiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle, PA stakes out third place with just over $2 million.

Jack Bailey at Help-U-Sell Greensboro is in fourth place, just Karen’s number with $1.9 million.

OfficeGross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties $ 4,495,410
Help-U-Sell
Bakersfield Equity Savers
$ 2,336,900
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty $ 2,080,700
Help-U-Sell Greensboro $ 1,954,195
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty $ 1,937,000
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty $ 1,862,999
Help-U-Sell Sunrise $ 1,758,000
Help-U-Sell Treasure Coast $ 1,322,900
Help-U-Sell Allied Realty $ 1,307,000

“I do not understand the word ‘can’t’”

Roberta (Bobbi) Pickens, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Treasure Coast in Hobe Sound, FL, is used to blazing her own trail. She learned how to stand tall early in her career in industries once dominated by men like medical equipment sales and oil/gas refinement. “There were no women in sales in either industry, so making headway was a challenge. But I was a tough cookie, and learned to handle myself with confidence. Men and women bring different skills to workplace, so I needed to play on those strengths. I was quickly a top saleswoman in these industries and promoted to regional management positions,” Bobbi said.

During tough times she branched out, sharing “I got into real estate because the oil industry is cyclical. We were in a down cycle and facing layoffs. There were no budgets for new refining equipment, or research and development. With a son in college, I needed something else to do. So I trained for my real estate license, worked for a small builder in Chicago and enjoyed it. I moved to Arizona, and got my license there. I researched possible franchises opportunities and found Help-U-Sell and John Powell (coach, long-time corporate executive, and franchise owner). I met with him to review what I wanted and liked, asked tough questions and got John’s ‘always straight’ answers.”  

Based on that meeting, Bobbi purchased a franchise in Hobe Sound on the east coast of Florida and opened Help-U-Sell Treasure Coast office in June of 2004. “The market was thriving and my business was doing great. Then cue the hurricanes! First came Frances, followed by Jeanne, both were direct hits and eight weeks apart.  That was a crazy time, as there hadn’t been any hurricane activity in this area for over 50 years. We were hit hard. There were a ton of blue roofs everywhere, so many houses were covered in tarps. People wanted to view and buy the properties, but we couldn’t show them. I switched to selling lots in a partnership with a developer during this long recovery period. When the market was good, Help-U-Sell was well received as the new kid on the block. When the market crashed I had to let the franchise go. Homes just were not selling. I kept busy on a smaller scale, selling real estate for friends and their relatives, and making sure people in difficult situations got the right help by doing a lot of short sales,” she explained.

In 2016, the Help-U-Sell Corporate Office reached out to previous owners, inviting them to come back and Bobbi happily returned. She said, “It was a great time to re-open. I wouldn’t want to be doing this as an independent in this market. Business picked up nicely this year, and doubled over last year. I hired a licensed assistant, Samantha (referred to as Saint Sam), who handles administrative details and is the buyers’ agent as we build the business. I recently sold all my inventory, but we have six or seven listings coming up, so the pipeline is nicely filled. I’ve been getting buyer leads tied to my Facebook advertising. I just didn’t have time for them, which is why I got help.”

The market has a wide margin of housing prices in Martin County versus Port St Lucie, where buyers have choices and flexibility. Bobbi stated, “In Martin County, you’re looking at a lot of waterfront and high-end properties that can go as high as $28 million. There’s not nearly enough housing in the lower price markets. We are seeing properties in all price ranges: one came in at $1.7 million and the newest is at $180,000. People from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the Northeast are selling their homes for $500,000 or more, coming here and buying a $300,000 -$400,000 home here instead. We are attractive to home sellers with the middle ground and above average values because the savings really stands out for them. Port St Lucie offers bigger homes for the price and it’s easier to find buyers homes within their budget that they will love. “

“Living Magazine” ad example

After the recession, many people moved out of state. Creating exposure was a priority for Bobbi. She explained, “I took a shotgun approach. I had my mobile office wrapped immediately and that gets a lot of attention. I advertise in the coupon books called ‘Living Magazine,’ they go to every mailbox two times monthly in both counties.  The half page ad explains what we do and what a seller gets. The full page ad has the listings and ‘just solds’. Sellers like seeing their home in the ad. When people call from the half page ad, they usually just ask us to come out. It rarely takes more than 3 minutes to get the listing appointment.”

Mobile office…wrapped!

Elaborating further, she said, “The market is changing constantly so you expect the ups and downs and you need a reason to be. Because this isn’t a big market, people need to see how busy you are. I don’t do flashy ads, just a straight-forward, matter-of-fact approach because there is no con. When I come to a listing appointment after a competitor, I always ask what they are getting for those extra thousands of dollars. That usually seals it in our favor.”

It has been a challenging year for Bobbi. Her longtime partner, Phil, suffered a stroke after open heart surgery in February. As the caregiver, she oversees his therapies and doctor appointments but reports he is progressing nicely. Additionally, her mom died in June and she is the Executor of her estate. “In honor of my mother’s passing, I sponsored the first two sessions of a new program with Love and Hope In Action. A friend is teaching culinary job skills for their homeless clients at LAHIA, so they can be re-enter the workforce in the food service industry. We live in a great community and I love that so many people are committed to improving the lives of others. I plan to have them cater some events planned for the office.” 

People persevering also aptly describes Bobbi: “Whatever’s going on, I can handle it. I concentrate on what needs to get done, put my head down, and do it. I do not understand the word ‘can’t’, but I have learned to say ‘no’ to listings that are unreasonable and refer to the ‘Realtor’s Serenity Prayer’ [God grant me the serenity to accept the listings I can sell, the courage to refuse the listings I cannot; and the wisdom to know the difference]. I really enjoy helping my sellers through the journey of selling their homes. Everyone has a story.  I love disrupting the marketplace. Thank you Help-U-Sell. I love this model and I’m glad to be home.”