Real Estate Disruption and Passing the Torch

John Powell, a long-time Broker/Owner at Help-U-Sell Real Estate with several decades of experience, now the Chief Development Officer, weighed in recently on the current trends facing and affecting today’s real estate industry. He also serves as a coach and mentor.


What’s Going On Now

Trends in today’s real estate market tend to validate the business model that Help-U-Sell Real Estate invented more than 42 years ago. The industry has been in turmoil for some time, and we’ve reached a tipping point. There are many “new” business models coming into the fray with options like instant offers from well-funded groups who will buy a house from the seller for cash with a quick closing and then flip the house for a profit. Several other companies have emerged mimicking Help-U-Sell by charging a single flat fee. While their fee structure may resemble what we do, these new competitors have little in common with Help-U-Sell.

It is important to note that none of these well-funded, new competitors are using the old, traditional 6% commission model. Investors are not willing to invest in an outdated business model. Instead they are impelling the shift to consumer-oriented, consumer-centric business practices. It is remarkable that, given the shift in the industry, many traditional model companies are doubling down on the agent-centric system. They are offering new technology to agents and 100% + commissions. Some are offering multi-level type schemes where agents can get a percentage of the commissions of agents they recruit to the company. These brokerages consider the agents to be their clients instead of the consumer who actually generates the revenue. In the end, the consumer will determine the model that gives them the best value for their money.

Disruption is the Model

Help-U-Sell is the original disruptor in real estate. We have been disrupting the standard idea of how brokers and Realtors do business for more than 42 years. When we started, most people were doing business the same way they do it today: list the house for a percentage commission, usually between 5 and 7% and put it in MLS. We pioneered the consumer-centric model by going directly to the consumer.  We asked home sellers and buyers, “What did you like about your real estate experience? What did you not like? What would you change?” We based our model around those answers and formed Help-U-Sell Real Estate.

Competition and Changes

Today’s technology supports our original vision of a consumer-centric real estate experience, making the whole real estate purchase and sale process easier than ever. In the past, Realtors held the key for every house on the market and controlled access. Today, consumers use online tools to control their home search. Home sellers can look up a valuation online, or area statistics on crime or school ratings. The role of the Help-U-Sell Broker has shifted over time, but our value proposition is the same: “Full service. Big savings. The experts next door.”

Other companies are currently experimenting with a set-fee. A popular new company just raised their rate from $3,200 to $3,600. As the original real estate disruptor, we are not experimenting, we are experienced. We’ve been doing this for 42 years. As a franchise organization, we offer an opportunity to entrepreneurial Realtors that they can’t get at Purplebricks, Zillow, or Redfin. In those organizations and others, all the offices are corporate owned and the brokers are mere employees. One must wonder how quickly a corporate employee can respond to a situation that arises threatening the successful closing of a transaction. As a locally owned business offering set fee pricing, saving sellers thousands and providing full service, Help-U-Sell is perfectly positioned for today’s changing real estate world.

Flexibility and Potential a Big Draw for Maria Powell

While living in Mexico, Maria Powell was working as an executive in banking but had bigger ideas for her life and career. So Maria emigrated to the United States in 1995, determined to carve out a better life. She wanted to pursue real estate for the flexibility to be more available for her children. “When I was in banking, it was difficult to leave work for emergencies, even if your child broke an arm,” Maria said.

Maria sought a real estate mentor, from whom she would learn everything about the industry: John Powell. In her first year, she closed 16 homes. “I’ve always liked sales,” Maria shared, “but one of the reasons I was attracted to real estate was because it is one of the highest-priced items and most important things a person can buy. Being in business for myself was the best possible move because you can earn as much as you want. There is no limit.”

2018 is turning out to be far busier for Maria because she is returning her focus to her business after having spent a lot of time last year caring for a friend in hospice care. “It was important to give that time and attention, because being present for someone like that is an honor. My team at Help-U-Sell Galleria Realty has done a fine job of holding down the fort for me. I joke that my office manager is my second brain. Last year we closed 35 sides. We’re on track this year for somewhere between 45 and 50. The months of April, May and June were crazy for us, we had a ton of leads coming in,” Maria explained.

Although there are many traditional real estate offices and several set-fee style competitors in the Tucson area, Maria has never had an interest in those business models. “To me, the number one company to work for is Help-U-Sell Real Estate. I’ve never been with another real estate company. The support is tremendous, the name recognition is often what gets me in the door, and the coaching is key,” Maria said.

As a matter of fact, Maria just got involved with coaching this past year. “I needed the accountability because I want to do everything,” she laughed. The coaching helped Maria to pinpoint her talents, and concentrate on her strengths while delegating the big time drains to someone else.

Help-U-Sell is bringing more to the table for Maria. She went on to say, “Help-U-Sell Real Estate is the number one set-fee real estate company in the United States. It’s a huge advantage because the possibilities are as endless as the potential. Much of what I need to get a listing is provided for me. The scripts are polished, the marketing pieces are professional, fresh looking, and easily customizable. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, leaving me time to work with clients.”

Talking about her own real estate career, Maria says, “There’s three big reasons I’m successful. One, the Help-U-Sell name recognition alone gets a lot of play; people call me because they know the name and what we stand for. Two, my own experience and expertise. I’ve sold hundreds of homes in Tucson and know my business. Three, and most importantly, we save consumers a lot of money. Home sellers get excited by the savings and tell all their friends. My past clients do most of my marketing for me!”

A Commitment to Community and Teamwork

When real estate chose Kimberly Zelena, she wasn’t just seeking a career path; she wanted to make it a family enterprise. Her husband, Michael, and Kimberly Zelena, Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estatea business partner had put themselves in the thick of real estate in 2001 by purchasing homes for fixing up and reselling, and she wanted to expand on that. “When we looked at opening our own real estate office, we researched Assist-2-Sell and Help-U-Sell Real Estate, and we just liked Help-U-Sell a lot better. I liked the job security real estate had to offer, in addition to a steady income and a real potential for profit. The structure made more sense to us, and what they offered to the owners in terms of support was more appealing,” Kimberly (pictured above) said.

Mike sought his real estate license, Kimberly became the company owner of Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate, and they brought on Leigh Anne Losh (below) as broker. Having come from a title and settlement real estate background, Leigh Anne was also interested in making a career change. Early on she had taken a course on R.E.O. properties so she could focus on foreclosure and short sale business alone, which now constitutes a full 30% of their overall business. Kimberly said, “A lot of people don’t like working foreclosures, it takes a lot of patience, paperwork, and attention to detail. We get a lot of referrals for this because not only does Leigh Anne like handling foreclosures, she has a real knack for it.”

Of the many benefits that Help-U-Sell offers its owners, Kimberly most appreciates the coaching groups, led in part, by Jack Bailey, a 30-year Help-U-Sell Broker/Owner whose name often populates our “Top Producers” list. Kimberly shared, “Jack taught us early on that we should send out Center of Influence cards four to six times a year, and that was well before it was automated. Now that they are automated, it makes a huge difference in keeping us in the forefront of our clients’ minds.”

Another tactic employed by Kimberly’s office is to be 100% about customer service. “We get leads in part because of our great service and our professionalism. Largely, I am all about a quick response. Our staff is on the phone seven days a week until 9:00 p.m.”

Kimberly and her team go out of their way to make clients feel appreciated. For new clients, whether they are buying or selling, she gifts them with homemade fudge for the holidays. She even acquired a food license to keep everything copacetic for the business. This year they switched it up by having a ‘Christmas in July’ at a local park, inviting all 900 people from their Center of Influence list for a cookout. “When thanking people individually, we’re also big on notes and small gifts. We receive a lot of referrals, so I love giving Outback gift cards for the referral,” Kimberly explained.

Being part of a smaller community also has its advantages when it comes to name recognition and building trust. “When people move here, they rarely move away, so people really get familiar with you. Leigh Anne is known for short sales, and has a reputation for being excellent to deal with; but she’s also a presence at local festivals, manning an ‘old fashioned’ soda wagon.  People connect with her. Mike and I do the same the thing with our Lucky Duck Kettle Corn business. Of course it’s fun, but we’ve also been able to establish ourselves in the community another way that people like and remember.”

All of this diligence and hard work is paying off for team Zelena. They closed 116 sides in 2017, and the January to June report for 2018 recently published on the Help-U-Sell Connect blog has Kimberly’s team coming in fourth for the most productive office within the franchise network. Kimberly’s team closed 63 sides, which is a good indicator of closing at least double that amount for the second portion of 2018. “We were a team before teams were popular. We all work well together, and our business model works well. We are a woman-owned, woman-broker company, and every day we’re making great things happen with that commitment to teamwork.”

Top Producers: Half-Year Review!

At the six month mark and only four transactions between them, we’d call the race to the number one spot between Mario Ferrante of Help-U-Sell Metropolitan  and Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties a “squeaker”. Jack Bailey, our 30-year Help-U-Sell veteran and coach of Help-U-Sell Greensboro continued his busy streak in third place. The Kimberly Zelena, Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real EstateZelena team (Kim pictured left) at Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate and Patrick Wood Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties complete our top 5 with a tie. If the benchmark for the first half of the year is a predictor for the second half, we’re very excited to see what these offices will do.

Office Buyer Seller Total

Help-U-Sell Metropolitan

41 57 98
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 23 71 94
Help-U-Sell Greensboro 22 46 68
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate 24 39 63
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 10 53 63
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty 13 37 50
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty 18 25 43
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate of Steele County Inc. 16 25 41
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 15 24 39
Help-U-Sell Real Estate Specialists 13 21 34



WOW! Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties came shockingly close to closing nearly $51 million in gross volume sales in just six months. Let’s repeat that: FIFTY ONE MILLION DOLLARS. That’s just crazy good and wildly impressive. Coming in second, another frequent flyer David Bartels, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realtyamong our eagles, Patrick Wood Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties. David Bartels (left) at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty makes this trifecta one worth noticing.

Office Gross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties  $  50,937,900
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties  $  35,053,156
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty  $  21,662,400
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty  $  16,754,331
Help-U-Sell Greensboro  $  12,487,965
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes  $  11,530,250
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan  $  10,516,245
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate  $  10,091,600
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty  $    8,695,350
Help-U-Sell Legacy  $    8,688,693

Climb the Ladder 2nd Quarter 2018





Having been number one in total sides for the last three months, it only makes sense that Mario Ferrante (below) of Help-U-Sell Metropolitan in Woodhaven, Michigan would come out on top for the second quarter of the year. Island favorite, Richard Cricchio and Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties  has also been creating consistent volume for April, May and June. The same goes for Jack Bailey at Help-U-Sell Greensboro. What’s great to see is the Zelena team at Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate and Karen Detwiler at Help-U-Sell Detwiler nabbing the fourth and fifth spots because both owners will be featured in Broker/Owner profiles really soon!

Buyer Seller Total Sides
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan 28 41 69
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 12 35 47
Help-U-Sell Greensboro 13 26 39
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate 14 23 37
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 6 27 33
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty 8 18 26
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate of Steele County Inc. 11 14 25
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 7 14 21
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty 9 12 21
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes 7 13 20

Richard CricchioIn the gross sales volume category, we have a similar cast of characters, but all in a different order! Congratulations to Richard Cricchio (left) and Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties for taking the top spot. Patrick Wood at Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties created a mighty strong second place. David Bartels at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty rounds out the list of the top three. It’s been a fantastic quarter for everyone here! Congratulations to everyone on a strong second quarter showing.

  Gross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties  $  23,975,500
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties  $  18,355,476
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty  $  10,756,500
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty  $  10,011,031
Help-U-Sell Golden Homes  $    8,570,250
Help-U-Sell Greensboro  $    7,620,429
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan  $    6,999,693
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate  $    6,847,750
Help-U-Sell East Valley  $    4,621,500
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate  $    4,578,700

Top Producers June 2018


For the third month running, Mario Ferrante (left) of Help-U-Sell Metropolitan in Woodhaven, Michigan dominates the top spot of our monthly Top Producers list. It’s no surprise seeing Richard Cricchio of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties here either, his whole 2018 has been marked by akahana (careful work). Patrick Wood and the Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties Team have also been consistently crushing it all year, along with Jack Bailey and the Help-U-Sell Greensboro team. It’s worth noting we’re at a top 11 again because appears that hard work and success duplicates when you have strong momentum.

Buyer Seller Total Sides
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan 13 16 29
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 5 12 17
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 3 13 16
Help-U-Sell Greensboro 3 12 15
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate 4 9 13
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty 5 6 11
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate of Steele County Inc. 4 7 11
Help-U-Sell Real Estate Specialists 3 6 9
Help-U-Sell East Valley 2 6 8
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 3 5 8
Help-U-Sell Wright Realtors 4 4 8

Our Top Producers list for gross sales volume this June features some familiar faces, too.  Patrick Wood’s (left)  Help-U-Sell Prestige Team comes in at number one. Richard Cricchio’s Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties reaches the second spot, and Marc Dosik clinches the third spot with his team at Help-U-Sell Federal City.


Gross Sales volume

Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties  $  8,149,988
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties  $  7,959,000
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty  $  3,710,032
Help-U-Sell Wright Realtors  $  2,869,500
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan  $  2,726,184
Help-U-Sell East Valley  $  2,713,500
Help-U-Sell Greensboro  $  2,655,400
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty  $  2,521,500
Help-U-Sell South Santa Clara County  $  2,364,000
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate  $  2,178,700