Not Business as Usual, But Open for Business

With the “sheltering in place” and quarantine orders extended until the end of April, one thing we still know is: lots of people still need to sell and buy homes. With an eye towards social distancing, the real estate  industry, and Help-U-Sell Real Estate “Experts Next Door” in particular, have changed business practices to adjust to current safety procedures and protocols. 

Some states have already had real estate deemed as an essential business, which provides some leeway as we strive to continue to serve our clients. Creativity in overcoming obstacles and problem solving is the theme of the day. Naturally, technology plays an enormous part. Whether working virtually, or with key staff rotating in the actual office, we are committed to continuing work for you in every way we safely can.

John Powell

“We are doing real estate in a different way. This is still a perfect opportunity to create new connections and reaffirm old ones. We are calling our previous clients to check in on them, and see if they need anything, especially if they are unable to leave home. We are recording our listing presentations and buyer consultations to have them handy to email to our current leads.”  – John Powell, Broker and Chief Development Officer, Help-U-Sell Real Estate Headquarters

“I’ve remodeled my business entirely. I’ve been doing listing presentations via GoToMeeting, and either going to the property to sign listing agreements or conducting it via DocuSign. I have had transactions where I do not see the seller until settlement time. Sometimes I have not seen them in person at all.” – Walt Hippuaf, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Peoples Real Estate, Philadelphia, PA

Kimberly Zelena, Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate

“One of our agents walked through the house live with the client using GoogleDuo. She recorded a video, uploaded it to where the house is listed for other potential buyers to view it. Closings are limited to ten people or fewer – only the people who absolutely have to be there.” – Kimberly Zelena, Owner, Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate, Waynesboro, VA

“We moved up closings as quickly as possible for two of our elderly clients. We had the escrow officer go out and sign a client yesterday, and a mobile notary visited another client to get the job done. I’m doing as much as I can on my own. For example, my new phone takes great wide angle photos and video. I’m filming my listings, and post regularly on social media.” – Lona Lassen Murphy, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Oregon, Eugene, OR

“Two of my recent clients, sisters buying condos in the same building, closed yesterday. One could not be in state at all. The tours, the inspection, and the final walk through were all done virtually. During the inspections, I was there, live on FaceTime so she was able to ask questions. The closings were done via email and with e-signatures. Electronic and mobile notaries were approved in Florida this year and that helps a lot.” – Chantell Stevens, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Gulf Coast, Sarasota, FL

“We invested in the cameras to do high quality photos and virtual tours. The majority of people now view home listings on their phone, so we wanted to ensure they have the best viewing experience we can provide from where they are.” – John Metcalf, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Inland Valley, Lake Elsinor, CA

“We are moving closing dates up to help clients close faster. Showing houses is still possible with the CBS (call before showing) code, and assigning a special window to view the home. No one else is allowed in during that time. Both safety and security are increased.” – Yasumi Davis, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Golden Homes, Martinez, CA

“The market here is almost business as normal. Yesterday there were 22 new listings and 11 active contracts. Buyers and sellers who feel like they need to go are allowing showings, but no open houses, of course. It feels like a rainy day open house: you know there won’t be much traffic, but what you do get will be serious. I am telling sellers who haven’t listed yet to get everything ready in advance, so when the restrictions are lifted they will be ready for the burst of opportunity that is bound to happen.” – David Bartels, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty, Westlake Village, CA

“Homes that are vacant are a gold mine, but when they are not, we’ve found virtual tours have been the most helpful.” – Kurt Steffien, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Coast and Valley, Santa Ana, CA

“I have been able to work via text and email.  In one case I drove to escrow to drop off signed documents that had to have a wet signature. I wore an N95 mask, gloves, and used hand sanitizer.” – Raul Novales, Broker/Owner, Help-U-Sell Wisdom Realty, Ontario, CA

To find the Help-U-Sell office closest to serving your area, use our office locator tool.

February 2020 Top Producers

There’s an old saying in New England, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” Not surprisingly, we have a similar theme in this month’s Top Producers report. After a few short weeks, there’s a new set of numbers to contend with and we have undergone a massive reorganization.

At the top of our list is Patrick Wood and his team at Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, CA. Patrick is in first place with 15 total sides for the month of February. Impressive!

Coming in at second place is Mike Bowling with Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling in Yuma, Arizona. Having been with Help-U-Sell for just over a year now, Mike and his team have already been making themselves a regular feature on our monthly reports. This month, Mike’s total is 7.

Broker/Owner, Coach, and author/trainer of the Buyer Consulting Training Program, Jack Bailey of Help-U-Sell Greensboro and his team are in third place with six total sides.

Then we have a whole slew of ties so populated, it nearly violates our new social gathering guidelines.

Fourth place is a three-way tie between Help-U-Sell 951 Realty, Help-U-Sell Metropolitan, and Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited, all with five sides for the month. That’s 1.25 deals closed a week!

Fifth place is even busier with five offices closing four sides each. 

Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties31215
Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling347
Help-U-Sell Greensboro246
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty325
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan145
Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited235
Help-U-Sell Broward Realty224
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties224
Help-U-Sell Keystone Realty44
Help-U-Sell Sims Realty314
Help-U-Sell Treasure Coast44

Over here on our Gross Sales Volume report, we find once again, Patrick Wood of Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, CA. Patrick claims first place with February sales totaling $9.2 million. February turned out to be a stellar month for Patrick!

In second place is Yasumi Davis of Help-U-Sell Golden Homes in Martinez, CA. She has closed February with a spectacular $2.4 million in sales. Great hustle from a small office. The Help-U-Sell way exemplified!

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

Not far behind in third place, by a margin of only $58,000, is David Bartels of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA, with $2.3 million in sales.

OfficeGross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$9,257,300
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes$2,453,000
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$2,395,000
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$2,337,500
Help-U-Sell Advance Realty$1,669,000
Help-U-Sell Treasure Coast$1,421,000
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty$1,305,000
Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling$1,290,255
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$1,212,400
Help-U-Sell Broward Realty$997,950
Help-U-Sell Sims Realty$980,900

There is much uncertainty ahead for all of us. Not just in the real estate market, but every market we know from the stock market to the corner market. Every day changes dramatically before our eyes. Our deepest hope is that the momentum exhibited here for February can somehow be carried over into March and April, to a degree meaningful enough to continue to support our businesses and our daily lives. 

May everyone stay safe, comfortable, and healthy. 

Work, Persevere, and Shine

John Metcalf, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Inland Valley in Lake Elsinore, CA, began his real estate career in 1989, becoming versed in residential and commercial real estate, business opportunity sales, and brokerage management.

Equipped with a strong sales and entrepreneurial spirit, John has owned and operated several small businesses prior to real estate. Ranging from sales of home security systems and home theaters, to children’s clothing, a laundromat, and even a post office, John eventually settled into real estate.

“In the past I would buy a business, build it up, and sell it. My wife, Cerita, got her real estate license and started working with a traditional real estate company. I’ve always liked sales and have always been selling,” John said. “It occurred to me that real estate commissions were far greater than alarm company commissions, and I wanted to be involved. Cerita was already experienced, so I became licensed so we could get into business together.”

After spending several years in the traditional real estate model business, John and Cerita noticed the market was changing from the consumer standpoint.

John explained, “The 6% commission was being heavily questioned, especially in a high real estate market like California. What value were they were getting for 6%? Brokers and agents were competing over lowering commissions, and it seemed like a race to the bottom. Consumers sought another solution to selling. It was getting harder to stay competitive.”

They researched alternative business options. He shared, “We wanted to get ahead of the game. Help-U-Sell started in Orange County, which was a primary reason we chose it; People know and remember the brand here. We often hear folks say they sold with Help-U-Sell 20 years ago, and they seek us out again when they are selling the next house. That sort of name recognition has made it easier to obtain new business. The brand name sticks because people remember the savings.”

While there are misconceptions about a set-fee business model, John is quick to set people right. “Help-U-Sell looks like full service – because it is. We’ve been offering full service with a set-fee for two years now. Our office is comprised of Cerita and I, plus one agent. We plan to bring on one more new agent in the coming year. Last year we closed 26 sides. We set our goal for this year to 30 and we’ve changed some tactics that bring in new leads and business.”

John further elaborated, “When you explain to clients that the set fee is not a catch, we always get a great reception. We recently put our office in a storefront that is busy with lots of organic foot traffic. Having a storefront is huge for us. It is by far the best and smartest thing we’ve done and we did it completely on a leap of faith. We amplify this by offering notary services, and we have people’s undivided attention when we are helping them. We’re number one on Google searches for notaries in our area, and that links to our website, too. One thing that is priceless: the expressions on people’s faces when they learn about the set fee. ‘You sell homes for $6,000?’.  We know they will be back. We’re not in competition with the companies that list for 1%. We know their services can’t come close to ours. No one else does what we are doing.”

John also utilizes the OMS platform that is a part of the Help-U-Sell system. “We make sure to do the Center of Influence postcard mailings every month. We are in constant contact with our clients in one form or another.” Leads also come from working in the community and being involved with groups like the Women’s Club, and volunteering for cancer walks or cleft palate repair organizations. John is also known for being a reserve firefighter for 20 years. 

California can be tenuous and not just for real estate. John said, “When we bought the franchise, the market had shifted. It was very strange year with nature: between brush fires and the worst rains we’ve had in 25 years – there were at least eight evacuations. Residents have been through quite a lot, but will always be buying and selling homes. When the market is down, it’s actually an advantage for serious brokers and agents, because everyone else is a part-time real estate agent. Those folks don’t know how to handle a soft market. The upside of terrible environmental circumstances is a mass exodus of agents. People who know how to work continue to persevere and shine.” 

The housing market covers a broad spectrum. “This is an affordable area. People with young families can get a house for about $380,000. Prices have increased a lot over the last 10 years and jobs in San Diego and Orange County are not as attractive as they once were, but it’s still a great option,” he said. “There is more inventory today than there was a year ago. Average time on the market is about 70 days and that’s healthy! “

When not selling houses, John and Cerita spend time with their five grandkids, and enjoy boating off the river, and scuba diving. “When I learned about Help-U-Sell Real Estate, I believed the platform was the wave of the future. I think it is still ahead of the game. We made a great choice.”

January Top Producers 2020

On this day of love in February, we are seeing something to bring a flutter to our winter-chilled hearts: our very first Top Producers list for 2020! January’s numbers have brought an interesting change scenery and graced us with a change to the usual array of faces . 

Karen Detweiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle, PA,  takes the lead with 12 total sides for the month. Karen’s team made several appearances on our list throughout 2019, and with a strong start so early in the year, we will expect more of the same from them.

Richard Cricchio

Burning a path to second all the way from the equator is Richard Criccio from Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties. The efforts of Richard’s team brought them just one side away from first with 11. 

Third place brings us to the first of four sets of ties. Featuring Mike Bowling of Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling of Yuma, AZ and Kimber Regan of Help-U-Sell The Smart Choice in Hanford, CA, both clock in with nine sides for a great start to the year.

David Bartels and his team at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA stands alone with seven sides in fourth place, and the sea of several flourishing ties cascades below, indicating strong and auspicious beginnings.

Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty8412
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties2911
Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling279
Help-U-Sell The Smart Choice459
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty257
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate336
Help-U-Sell Greensboro336
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate 145
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties235
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes134
Help-U-Sell Keystone Realty134
Help-U-Sell Legacy134
Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties

In our first Gross Sales Volume report of the year is, of course, Richard Criccio from Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties. It’s a fine way to begin the new year by stacking up $8.5 million in sales in a single month.

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

David Bartels and his team at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA take second place here with $4.8 million in sales. 

Third place was secured by Patrick Wood at Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, CA. Having ended last year in second place, it’s great to see the trend continue in a positive manner for 2020 as he closed $3.5 million. 

Six of the offices that appear on the gross sales volume list are also featured on our sides list, illustrating that sometimes one good thing follows another when you put the right effort in. A great start to the year, everyone!

OfficeGross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$8,501,500
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$4,876,000
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$3,542,500
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes$1,975,000
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty$1,971,600
Help-U-Sell The Smart Choice$1,962,300
Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling$1,439,800
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$1,304,000
Help-U-Sell Silicon Valley Properties$1,300,005
Help-U-Sell Mid Peninsula$1,175,000

Chris Reed to Retire January 24

On January 24, 2020, Chris Reed will hang her hat on the doors of Help-U-Sell Real Estate and officially retire after 11 dedicated years of service to the company at the Sarasota-based corporate headquarters.

If you’ve ever spoken to Chris on the phone, it’s not difficult to guess she moved here from Massachusetts. Arriving to Florida in 2000 with her husband, she previously worked as a controller for a manufacturing company up north, but quickly found work with a Florida home builder.

“Once I started with Help-U-Sell, it was interesting to learn the aspects of selling real estate versus the building side of real estate. All of that knowledge has come full circle for me,” Chris said.

Whenever Help-U-Sell opens an office in a new state, Chris gets the Federal Disclosure Documents in order so the franchise will be allowed to operate there. She ensures the incoming franchisees have the right paperwork to get started, and handles anything from a change of ownership, transferring ownership from an individual to a corporation, taking care of location and name changes, and other amendments to the franchise agreement.

Moving forward, those duties will be handled by Joey Trowbridge.

Since Chris came on board during the economic recession, she has witnessed many changes. She added,“I saw first-hand how hard this industry became for everyone: the many broker/owners struggling to stay open, and the home owners and communities trying to stay afloat. What’s wonderful to see are folks who had the will to stay with us and make their businesses grow again. People with that spirit make coming to work a pleasure. They love what they do, and I’m definitely one of those people.”

Not surprisingly, once she is fully immersed in retirement, Chris will still be very busy. She will continue to volunteer for the Salvation Army, as an usher at the Van Wezel Performance Center, and will become more involved in her husband’s graphic design business. 

A huge bird lover, Chris also volunteers at the Birds of Paradise aviation sanctuary, and serves as a board member for the Florida West Coast Avian Society.

“I’ve been working towards this moment of retiring for a while. Five years ago, I cut down my work week to four days. More recently, I cut down to 2.5 days weekly. I’ve really enjoyed watching what Robbie (Robert Stevens, CEO) has done with the company since taking over. Working with him, all of the people in the corporate office, and the Broker/Owners and all of their people – they made this a really good experience for me,” she shared.

We wish Chris all the best in her retirement!