Real Estate is About Helping Families

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.

After Brenda 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.

Expanding 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.”

The couple 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 online.”

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.”

When planning 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 success.”  

New Website Widgets

Based on franchisees’ requests, we have created two new widgets that can be placed on any webpage, either on the Help-U-Sell Real Estate broker website or on a third-party site.

Help-U-Sell Real Estate Testimonials Widget
We've created two new widgets, including a testimonials widget, that can be placed on any webpage.

The testimonials widget displays the reviews that have been entered in the Office Management System. The widget can be vertical or horizontal, and its size can be adjusted as needed. Brokers can enter text or video testimonials into OMS.

The seller savings calculator widget enables a homeowner to enter his house’s value and find out approximately how much he could save by listing with the broker’s office in comparison to a traditional, percentage-based brokerage.

Both widgets would work well on landing pages that have contact forms, enabling brokers to generate leads.

The widgets will be ready to use next week. If you are a Help-U-Sell Real Estate broker and want help creating a widget or a landing page with one of these widgets, contact us at support.

Video: Why Percentage-Based Commissions Don’t Make Sense

At Help-U-Sell Real Estate, we believe there’s a more fair way to charge our clients when we sell their homes than the traditional percentage-based commission. To explain our system and the way many traditional brokerages work when it comes to commission structure, we’ve created an informative video.

Watch this video:

    * if you want to know how your commission gets distributed when you sell your house.
    * if you want to learn about a real estate business model that’s still full-service but can save you thousands of dollars.
    * if you’re a broker or an agent in search of a better way to work with clients and differentiate yourself.

Why Percentage Commissions Don't Make Sense
Help-U-Sell Real Estate's video explains why percentage commissions don't make sense for sellers or for real estate professionals.

See how much our franchise offices have saved sellers and how our system works on our website.

Flat-fee Versus Commission-based Real Estate Business Models

On April 25, 2013, Help-U-Sell Bay Beach Realty broker/owner Dan Desmond and Scott Einbinder, a veteran real estate salesperson and consultant, in Toms River, N.J., will debate which real estate business model is superior: flat-fee or commission-based. Proceeds from the highly anticipated event will benefit the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Dan Desmond, Help-U-Sell Bay Beach Realty
Dan Desmond of Help-U-Sell Bay Beach Realty will debate the merits of the flat-fee business model on April 25, 2013.

While Desmond will be speaking on his own behalf and not as a representative of Help-U-Sell Real Estate’s corporate office, we are looking forward to cheering him on in about two weeks’ time.

Since we began operating in 1976, Help-U-Sell Real Estate has practiced the flat-fee (or set-fee) business model. Our founder, Don Taylor, thought the idea that consumers paid high commissions, based on the sale price of a home and not on the actual cost of marketing the home, could be improved upon.

Our brokers, all members of the National Association of REALTORS, offer the same full service as commission-based brokers, but charge a flat fee instead of a variable percentage. The flat fee is always at a savings for our sellers. However, we are not discount brokers. Our brokers determine their flat fee based on solid business practices (the market conditions, their profit margin and the cost to perform services) and not based on what the broker next door is charging.

Last year, our offices saved sellers $12.5 million in commission fees, when compared to a 6% commission. To us, a flat fee just makes sense for everyone: our sellers, our brokers and our brokers’ agents.

If you would like more information about how Help-U-Sell Real Estate’s set-fee business model works, visit our Franchise Opportunity Center website or contact us.

Help-U-Sell® Leads Way with Set Fee Model

By TAMARA PATZER

Traditional real estate brokers are beginning to see what Help-U-Sell® brokers have known since 1976, selling consumers prefer set fee real estate services and a menu of services. Continue reading “Help-U-Sell® Leads Way with Set Fee Model”