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.
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.
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty
Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate
Help-U-Sell 951 Realty
Help-U-Sell Central Properties
Over here in the Gross Sales Volume portion of our report, big changes have occurred!
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!
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
“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
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.”
Partners at Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, Bob and Brenda Fischer are next in our series of Broker/Owners who are also husband and wife.
Brenda has now been in real estate for 20 years, after a career in coordinating continuing medical education for physicians. Bob joined her six years ago, after 32 years in the digital audio industry.
There was a
logical attraction for Brenda to sell houses, as she and Bob had developed a
brisk business of flipping houses. “After a short period of time, you realize
that you’re doing all this physical work, and then paying somebody else to make
a profit off your houses. We then transitioned from flipping houses into
managing rental properties, and we both liked that a lot. Selling houses
ourselves was a natural progression,” Brenda said.
got her real estate license, she learned the industry with another flat-fee
brokerage in Terre Haute. She explained, “They closed down after three years,
and I went to a traditional brokerage. What you quickly find out is that you
pay for everything there. You pay for copies, popcorn, the phone, and, of
course, you still had monthly fees. The other realtors were part-time, and
that’s no way to grow and establish a business. The Assist-2-Sell franchise
where I once worked had been tried and failed on three different occasions, all
by different people, so that was not an option.”
When they made
their decision, they chose Help-U-Sell Real Estate. “If you look at how
Help-U-Sell is structured, it really is different. With other companies, you’re
out there on your own. There is no coaching. No one to rely on or ask
questions. A stricter structure meant fighting that much harder for business.
With Help-U-Sell, I started attending the coaching groups and began working on
recruiting with John Powell. If he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he
always finds out. That’s not common,” Brenda added.
further on the coaching group, she said, “John Powell’s group is excellent.
It’s not just teaching ‘dos and don’ts’. He won’t let you shy away from the
hard tasks of how to make your business more efficient, like planning an
advertising budget or generating appropriate goals for your office. He wants to
help you stretch, versus just helping you make goals that you know that you
will easily meet.”
When it comes
to making a name for themselves, signage is first. “We had to drill down to
figure out where to put our marketing dollars. Signs are our number one thing.
We get more comments on our signage than anything else,” Bob said. “We
advertise as a company, not as agents. You will see names and telephone
numbers, but anyone in our office is qualified to take a call. Whoever can run
with it, we’re good with it. Right now, we’re working on a new postcard. We
called the home office and gave them the idea of what we wanted. It’s a lot
simpler than doing it yourself.”
advertises in their local weekly newspaper that has a readership of about 100,000.
“Newspapers here are still incredibly important. People want to see their home
for sale in the Valley Homes paper. We have tracked how business has been
affected by advertising there by cutting down to every other week, as opposed
to weekly. We lost 31 listings as a result and quickly changed back,” Brenda
shared. “We reach out to our Center of Influence contacts four times a year with
a postcard, written notes, or phone
calls. We also put up door hangers, even in awful weather. We communicate
regularly with clients who bought or sold a property. We often share articles
They also embrace fun methods of gaining exposure. “We always participate in the Labor Day parade and we bring all of our buyers and sellers with us. Everybody’s has matching t-shirts. Anywhere between 20 to 65 people show up, it’s a blast. We also do the ‘Shop with a Cop’ holiday program for children in need every year,” she said.
Bob and Brenda
did well for themselves in 2018, closing 55 transactions. They have established
a goal of 94 transactions for 2019. Bob shared, “It’s going to be tough to pull
off, because we are experiencing a shortage of houses in our area. Right now there
are 441 houses in our MLS, normally it’s around 1,300 in a five-county area.
The median price of homes was $92,000 just a few years ago; Because of the lack
of inventory, they are now over $100,000. During the recession, hundreds of
houses had to be torn down after falling into extreme disrepair. Builders are
now putting up houses that are between $200,000 to $300,000, in a market where
the spending range is $100,000. These more expensive homes aren’t selling, and
we’re desperate for more entry-level homes. Our area realtors and lenders
convened about this issue and have conveyed the need for starter homes to the
builders. We’re not just here as business owners. Real estate is ultimately
about helping families.”
for the year ahead, they embrace the positive and the negative. Bob explained,
“In real estate you expect and accept that it is always going to be a roller
coaster. We’re busy now, but next month, things will slow down dramatically.
We’ve learned to account for those shifts. It takes a special relationship to
work with your spouse, but we’re a team. I may be out getting a listing, while
Brenda is out showing a home. We’re not sitting here all day long. When we are
here together, we’re usually at opposite ends of the building because there’s
always something to do. Our goal is to always help each other out because this
is an old-fashioned family business, and we depend on each other to create
Before Gary Julian decided to get his real estate license in 1990, he spent a number of years in service-related industries such as banking and retail management. His wife, Wendy, got her license in 1998. “What you learn from public-facing work experiences like mine is how to play well with others. It also prepared me for having my own business in areas like payroll and supervision. I flourished in those jobs, but I’ve always loved the idea of being self-employed; It means I have 100% accountability,” Gary said.
spent the first portion of his real estate career with a traditional brokerage.
“I can tell you from first-hand experience, it’s a completely different
mindset. There is no support. You are 100% on your own. In 2002, I moved from
the traditional brokerage to a flat fee brokerage. Like many others during that
time, that business went belly-up in 2007. I became an independent broker and
offered a flat fee to my clients. After three years, I started researching
possible franchise business options and decided to open my own Help-U-Sell Real
Estate office,” he shared.
asked why he chose Help-U-Sell over other franchises, Gary said, “Starting a
business from scratch is no easy task. It helps tremendously going into one by
having a brand name with a great, nationwide reputation. As an independent, the
incoming calls coming were a bit tepid. When I ran ads as an independent, I
wouldn’t get much traction. Suddenly, I add the Help-U-Sell logo, with language
like ‘low set-fee’ and ‘save thousands’ and the visibility goes way up and the phone
“When you’re independent it’s hard to get noticed by anyone. I’ve gone
door-to-door to bring attention to our business. With a national franchise, we
have offices from coast to coast, an especially strong local presence, and an
exceptionally large presence in the state of California as a whole. People
started listing with us. We’ve got full service at a reasonable fee structure,
and we don’t overcharge. People respond well to brand names; It gives them a
degree of comfort. After opening our shop, we immediately had two sales come in
from folks familiar with the name. We knew immediately we made the right
folks in real estate remember the traditional means of advertising was once
primarily newspapers, but of course much has changed when it comes to marketing.
“We found newspaper ads were not faring as well in our market as they once had,
when compared to our internet marketing efforts. Figuring out your advertising
spend takes time and nuance. The trick is getting people to know that we’re
here. With the brand name, the logo, and a lot of signage, we’re finding there
are a lot of ways to help people find us.”
the Help-U-Sell in-house technology for marketing is also in use. “We do
greeting cards three times a year: New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and 4th of
July. We use the ‘sold and saved’ postcards, too. Next, we’re planning on
making videos for social media. As we upgrade our technology presence, we
upgrade our community visibility in general. One of my recent Facebook
advertisements highlights a seller savings of $45,850 in commissions. We find
those get a lot of positive attention. Oftentimes, we have a tendency to
overthink a lot of things and really it just comes down to figuring out who
wants your service,” Gary explained.
spent nearly 30 years in the industry, Gary has learned to weather the
tumultuous tides of the changing housing market with ease. “I never looked at
this venture as just a paycheck. I ignore the commissions, because I know
they’re going to kick in. We get referrals from people who trust us, because we
did right by them. That’s a return on advertising you can’t buy, only earn. I
recently closed two sales that were entirely internet-related. Someone else
found us from the national Help-U-Sell website and zeroed in on our office. I
get affirmation that I made the right choice constantly,” Gary added.
2019 will have Gary and Wendy doubling the number of sides they closed last
year. Situated in a rare lower market for Southern California, the median range
of homes is $290,000, which attracts a greater volume of buyers. Gary added,
“The inventory has exploded, increasing 33% more than what it was at this time
last year. Pending sales are down 5%. Overall, the population has exploded for
California, so it’s an exciting time for us.”
on their time together, Gary says, “Between the two of us, we have over 50
years of experience! We are doing well as a family business. We celebrate
robust times, and in tougher times, we just put our heads together and move
forward. There’s always going to be people with this need and you just need let
them know you’re there.”
time, Ed Wright had his eye on the sky as an air traffic controller but had his
sights set on real estate. He became a real estate agent in 1980 and opened his
own office as broker/owner of Help-U-Sell Wright
Realtors in 1982. Interested in all things housing-related, he
learned about mortgages, escrow, and appraisals, giving Ed a well-rounded
understanding of the real estate industry, and putting him in the position to dispense
expert advice on many home-related topics.
Wright began as a bank teller, and transitioned to work for a title company.
Over 19 years, she witnessed the success of several Help-U-Sell brokers, and
noted they were doing more business than many of the long-time traditional
brokers. Help-U-Sell had an easy-to-follow system, and owning her own business
was attractive, so Julie pursued her real estate license in 1999. She had plans
to open her own franchise when she met Ed while traveling to Biloxi,
Mississippi for a Help-U-Sell Real Estate convention. Eventually Julie and Ed
married, and Julie joined his business. “Real estate was an entirely different
animal with a new language. There was a lot to learn. I was attracted to it
because I am a people person, but I wanted to create a business. I also wanted
to be active in my community, and have money in addition to freedom,” Julie
in 2018 sales placed the Wrights on a recent monthly Top Producers list, which highlights
Help-U-Sell Broker/Owners who have had the most sales. Part of the increase is
due to Julie’s new efforts of tracking referrals very carefully through
coaching. “One of my most successful efforts was a ‘reverse pop-by’. Just before
Thanksgiving, we hosted an open house and invited a certain level of clients
and referrals. We served cider, wine, and hot appetizers. At the end of the
evening, everyone took home a pie. Some of our clients made referrals for their
business, and of course we received several new referrals ourselves,” Julie
added. These efforts have been paying off, as Ed and Julie closed 35
transactions for 2018. For 2019, their goal is 50, and plan to achieve it by initiating
a campaign of “low-hanging fruit” with expired and probate listings.
their area have a median price range of $750,000. Ed explained, “The concept of
value from Help-U-Sell automatically attracts sellers. Home sellers everywhere,
but especially here in California, love saving money off the traditional 6%
Commission. On a $750,000 home, 6% is $45,000. That’s a substantial amount of
equity people don’t want to give away, giving us a huge advantage over
traditional real estate agents. When I make a listing presentation, I win that
client 90% of the time.”
comes to brand awareness, Ed shared, “Marketing has changed dramatically for
us. Several years ago in Orange County, there was a co-op for group marketing
with the other California-based Help-U-Sell offices. Marketing is very
different today and far more fragmented, especially with internet-based
competition. With print media being somewhat passé, we’ve had to focus on
creating opportunities that are more directed towards a smaller audience.
Instead of going broad, it’s become more targeted and precise.” Julie has also
been increasing her presence in a local chamber of commerce. “We’ve noticed
that the ‘sold and saved’ brag cards stick with people and make a big impression,”
Julie and Ed have collectively sold thousands of properties over the years.
“There’s nothing like the freedom of running your own business. You make your
own schedule. The rewards, aside from the obvious monetary ones, are helping
people to achieve their goals. When you put a buyer in a new home, that’s a
great feeling,” Ed explained. “We’ve really enjoyed the experience of
Help-U-Sell ownership over the past three decades. The company is always
growing and changing, it makes for an exciting future, and we’re proud of what
we’ve built together.”