“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.”

August 2019 Top Producers

Just because summer is winding to a close, that doesn’t mean that things aren’t still heating up with our Broker/Owners for our monthly edition of Top Producers.  A rare event has occurred: the number one spot for both the Sides and Gross Sales Volume sales reports have been claimed by the same Broker!

A big congratulations to Marc Dosik of Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty. His team in Washington, D.C. has closed 15 sides for the month of August. If you scroll down just a little bit, you will see his team pulled in over $8 million in sales, too. Whatever they have been doing this summer,  the method is working.

Second place is nabbed by Jack Bailey and his team at Help-U-Sell Greensboro. Closing 14 sides for the month, it is clear that having a couple of extra folks working with buyers has paid off, as the buyer sides just slightly tipped over the seller sides for his group.

Debra Schmidt of Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate claims third place with 12 sides. Her office has had a very busy summer also, and has been making consistent appearances on our Top Producer list this season.

We love ties! Sixth place is shared by Ryan Joyce at Help-U-Sell Bakersfield Equity Savers and Richard Criccio’s office in Hawaii, Help-U-Sell Honolulu properties. Both offices have 8 sides. 

Seventh place is a 5-way tie with Brokers who have six sides (see what I did there?). The summer race ends with  David Bartels, Yasumi Davis, Danny Kettle, Patrick Wood, and Tom Nunes – all of them having a great summer. 


Office
BuyerSellerTotal Sides
Help-U-Sell
Federal
City Realty
6915
Help-U-Sell
Greensboro
8614
Help-U-Sell
Heritage
Real Estate 
7512
Help-U-Sell
Metropolitan
4711
Help-U-Sell
Direct Savings
Real Estate
369
Help-U-Sell
Bakersfield
Equity Savers
358
Help-U-Sell
Honolulu
Properties
268
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty426
Help-U-Sell
Golden Homes
246
Help-U-Sell
Legacy
336
Help-U-Sell
Prestige
Properties
246
Help-U-Sell
Sunrise

66

Over here in Gross Sales Volume, as promised, we have Marc Dosik with Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty topping list with $8 million in sales. 

Not surprisingly, Richard Criccio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties comes in at just over $6  million. Richard is usually number one in this category, but number two is still an excellent place to be.

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

In third place is David Bartels and Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty, with an impressive $4.8 million in sales volume.

We hope everyone had an enjoyable and productive summer!

Office Gross Sales volume 
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty $  8,182,739
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties $  6,008,000
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty $  4,806,500
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties $  3,524,000
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes $  3,051,000
Help-U-Sell Greensboro $  3,034,946
Help-U-Sell Sunrise $  2,554,000
Help-U-Sell Bakersfield
Equity Savers
$  2,472,900
Help-U-Sell Legacy $  2,425,900
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty $  1,779,999

Ahead of the Curve

Not quite a year ago, Jeff Hedberg of Help-U-Sell Real Estate Masters opened his office in Port Huron, Michigan, but he did so with decades of real estate experience before opting for the set-fee business model Help-U-Sell created. Jeff chose real estate early, he was only 21 years old. “I won a sales contest in college, in a class that was taught by a broker, and the door to real estate opened for me,” Jeff remembered.

In 2013, it was time for reinvention. “I had the largest office in St. Clair County, and at one point I had 40 full-time agents. I loved working in this area, but I wanted to live in Florida. So my family moved and got settled, while I planned on setting up a real estate office there. The call of family brought us back to Michigan sooner than anticipated. I sold my previous business to a competitor, and had to wait out a non-compete clause,” he said.  

This time around, Jeff wanted to do real estate in a different way. He continued, “I think the industry has been broken for a while and brokers have gotten away with overcharging people for a long time. I started checking into Help-U-Sell, partially because I wanted the brand recognition and I liked the model, and didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Once situated, we just started with word of mouth publicity.”

An important element of success for Jeff is having associates with the same commitment to serving clients. He added, “They share that sense of loyalty and drive to do right by our clients. Whenever I meet with a potential new agent, I ask, ‘Do you believe you are worth 6%? Do you believe the industry is going to change?’ I have three agents with me, two of whom are experienced, and one is just starting out. I don’t do co-listings; I currently have 21 listings myself, with many more in the pipeline. At a minimum, I’m anticipating 50 units for the year, and I will achieve that. I am currently number two in closed units in my county and number five in overall sales and listing volume.”

While pricing and inventory are common obstacles in many markets, Port Huron is more nuanced. Jeff explained, “The challenge for us is that Port Huron is a 180-degree market. There is a river here that separates the United States from Canada. The median house price is $175,000 but it can commonly be as modest as $118,000, when compared to prices in Venice, Florida, where I just moved back from; Houses there average about $280,000. We see a lot of first-time buyers. I’ve already saved people over $128,000 in commissions in my first seven months. I am confident we can capture 30% market share in three to five years.”

Building a business takes time, but Jeff is confident sellers will catch on quickly. “I’m not short-term focused. I have not yet captured the volume I know I’m capable of achieving. When my business was here originally, I had 33% of the market share and closed $110 million in volume. After the economy crashed, the business model changed and there was a definite shift in expectations from the consumer standpoint. Home sellers wanted full service brokers at a reasonable rate. Consumers are putting pressure on the 5-6% model, and this is a fair way to do it. It’s hard to argue with that,” he stated. 

“What I like right now is knowing I am ahead of the curve, and that I will be competitive in advance of other brokers in this area. They are fighting the change. I’m here now and the race will be won in two or three years. Not offering a low set-fee is greedy and short-sighted. We can easily give people what they want once we have their attention.”

To get that consumer attention, Jeff has changed his old marketing practices also. He continued, “There was a time when I was paying for five full pages of newspaper advertising every week, but now I’m taking a different approach. I often use the ‘just listed’ and ‘just sold’ postcards from Excel printing. I made a heavy investment in signage, and it’s worth it because people tell me they see my signs everywhere. Client testimonials drive traffic back to my website and create a lot of viewings. I am also fond of the ‘good, better, best’ brochure. Nothing quite illustrates our offering as succinctly as that.”

Part of great marketing is having the presentation down. “I have perfected my elevator pitch, and have developed several tailored versions which shows the traditional fees, and people saving two or three times the amount using our services versus a competitor. When I am in front of a client, I don’t lose the listing. Sometimes home sellers will get guilted into using a friend or family member who dabbles in real estate part-time. The question I always ask those folks is ‘If this person is a friend, why are they not charging you a friendly fee?’ The savvy seller wants to save money,” he said. 

Subject to many influences, real estate can sometimes be a precarious industry, which Jeff anticipates. He said, “There are always highs and lows. When times are tough, I do what I’ve always done and more. I pray, and make it a point to give more than I take. To the victor goes the spoils.”

July Top Producers

After many months of seeing very familiar faces grace our monthly Top Producers list, July has proven to be a surprising scorcher! We present to you….a shake up!

Debra Schmidt and her team at Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate in Owatonna, Minnesota did it! They closed 18 sides and ascended to first place.  Her office has been making strides throughout the year, often popping up on this list but this is the first time in 2019 that Debra’s office is winner-take-all. Congratulations!

The ever-industrious Jack Bailey comes in second place with 14 total sides thanks to the help of hard work and his team at Help-U-Sell Greensboro in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Karen Detwiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle Pennsylvania, nabs a “dual” third place with her busy team of six, closing 12 sides. 

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

Also sharing third place with 12 sides is Kimberly Zelena and her team of four at Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate in Waynesboro, Virginia. 

There are no fewer than four ties in this edition of Top Producers, bringing another round of evidence to the fact that the Help-U-Sell Real Estate model can still bring disruption to the industry, attract sellers, and make for a successful business to own.

OfficeBuyerSellerTotal
Help-U-Sell
Heritage
Real Estate
61218
Help-U-Sell
Greensboro
7714
Help-U-Sell
Detwiler Realty
5712
Help-U-Sell
Direct Savings
Real Estate
6612
Help-U-Sell
Metropolitan
1910
Help-U-Sell
Prestige
Properties
3710
Help-U-Sell
Edmond/OKC
459
Help-U-Sell
Mike Bowling
459
Help-U-Sell
Peoples
Real Estate
369
Help-U-Sell
San Antonio
Hill Country
279
Help-U-Sell
Options
Unlimited
448
Help-U-Sell
Select Real
Estate
358
Richard Cricchio

Moving on to our Gross Sales Volume report, we find Richard Criccio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties continuing to secure the top spot with $7.1 million in sales for the month of July. Must be the neighbor island volcano making real estate so hot there.

A strong second place goes to Patrick Wood of Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties in Chino Hills, California. His team closed $5.5 million in sales. 

Breaking into the top three this month Is Yasumi Davis of  Help-U-Sell Golden Homes in Martinez, California. She closed $4.3 million in sales.

What is especially noteworthy: a cursory glance at our previous editions of the Top Producers list shows clearly that smaller offices can do just as well as larger offices in terms of achieving both number of sides and gross sales volume, as evidenced by the steady presence and climb of some broker/owners to the higher echelons of this list in just 2019 alone. 


Office Name

Amount
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$7,198,000.00
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$5,546,800.00
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes$4,393,500.00
Help-U-Sell South
Santa Clara County
$3,293,000.00
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$2,912,940.00
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty$2,690,500.00
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate$2,671,100.00
Help-U-Sell Wright Realtors$2,600,000.00
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate$2,410,400.00
Help-U-Sell San Antonio
Hill Country
$2,335,489.00

Top Producers 2019 Half-Year Review

While the Help-U-Sell Half-Year Review clearly paints a picture of our stars who have been shining all year long, the real fun comes in with the folks that you were not necessarily expecting. They’ve been quietly accumulating substantial sides throughout the year and then – BOOM – here they are showing up large! 

So our top four Eagles, Mario Ferrante of Help-U-Sell Metropolitan (136), Jack Bailey of Help-U-Sell Greensboro (68), Marc Dosik of Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty, and Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties (both with 53) are exactly where we have been expecting them, thanks to great marketing, hard working teams, and a value proposition that is tough to beat. 

Kimberly Zelena’s team, Help-U-Sell Direct Savings, stakes a claim at fourth place with 51 sides and puts a huge divide between her and fifth place. 

The stair-step (one right after the other) awards go to:

Mike Bowling, newcomer from Yuma, Arizona and the head of Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling clearing 39 for 5th place. 

Kimber Regan of Help-U-Sell Hanford/Lemoore in Hanford, CA, ends with 38 sides. 

Debra Schmidt of Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate in Owatonna, MN, closes 37 sides. 

With competition that hot, we’re going to need a frozen lemonade to cool off and take it all in. 

OfficeBuyerSellerTotal
Help-U-Sell
Metropolitan
6375138
Help-U-Sell
Greensboro
264268
Help-U-Sell
Honolulu
Properties
223153
Help-U-Sell
Federal City
Realty
233053
Help-U-Sell
Direct Savings
Real Estate
222951
Help-U-Sell
Mike Bowling
192039
Help-U-Sell
Hanford/
Lemoore
201838
Help-U-Sell
Heritage
Real Estate
162137
Help-U-Sell
Prestige
Properties
62935
Help-U-Sell Full
Service Realty
171633

On the Gross Sales Volume list, Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties remains the Eagle flying high with $31.6 million in sales. Just think of the huge savings he has provided his sellers over a traditional 6% commission over these last six months. 

David Bartels of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA, takes second place with $22.4 million in sales. For those who haven’t checked out what they include in their seller and buyer packages, they really do go above and beyond traditional brokerage offerings.

Marc Dosik of Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty in Washington, DC, comes in here with $20.8 million in sales. Covering Virginia, Maryland and D.C. means more people recognizing the Help-U-Sell brand and trusting the name that has been saving them money for over four decades.

Office6 Month Total
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties$31,664,888
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty$22,422.500
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty$20,851.679
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties$18,591.175
Help-U-Sell Greensboro$14,319,888
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan$14,157,529
Help-U-Sell Central Properties$13,045.882
Help-U-Sell Direct
Savings Real Estate
$8,221,849
Help-U-Sell Legacy$8,091,434
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate$7,547.000
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes$6,980,500
Help-U-Sell Distinctive Homes$6,277,500
Help-U-Sell Mike Bowling$6,077,650