Most people don’t want to attempt the sale of their own property without professional help.  That’s smart.  There are so many things that can go wrong, so many landmines on that path; and these are BIG things that can cost a lot.  Still, when the alternative of paying, say . . . $15,000 or more in sales commissions is considered, some elect to brave it on their own.  And sometimes they’re even successful.  Most of them, however, say they’d never do that again!

The problem with Do-It-Yourself is the definition of ‘it.’  What is it you are going to do yourself?  The whole thing?  Pricing? Preparation? Marketing? Screening? Showing? Open houses? Contracts? Arranging financing? Handling details? Solving problems?

Frankly, I don’t like that definition of ‘It.’  It’s too big.

But, what if we defined ‘It‘ as simply being those things any capable homeowner could do for him or herself?  What if we pull out all of the technical aspects of selling a home, all of the tasks that take specific knowledge and experience, and shortened our list of ‘It‘ to:

  • Showing the home (I know:  50+ years of REALTOR-speak has conditioned us all to believe we can’t do this well, but, come on:  who knows your property better than you?)
  • Holding open houses

Now, that’s an ‘It‘ I can live with! Especially if it means ‘It‘ can save me big bucks!

And, guess what:  it can.

You see, one of the many things Don Taylor, the founder of Help-U-Sell, questioned about the Ordinary real estate business way back in 1976, was the role of real estate agents in the typical office and the expense associated with having them.  Instead of a real estate office with 50 or 100 agents stumbling around doing half a dozen deals a year each (which, by the way, is a true picture of what an Ordinary real estate office is:  that’s  normal for them), he wanted a handful of agents, focused on a specific job description, doing four or more times the average production of agents elsewhere.  To realize this vision, he looked at the list of things agents have to do in a real estate sale – which is similar to our big list of of ‘It‘ above – and tried to pare it down.

He recognized that most agents spend huge amounts of time opening doors for people and sitting in open houses.  Overheard at a REALTOR meeting:

What did you do last Saturday?

What a day!  I had to show one of my listings in the morning – someone called and wanted to see it.  I drove 30 minutes to get there, waited another 30 minutes  . . . and they didn’t show up.  So, that was my morning.  Then I had an open house in the afternoon, which meant I needed to start an hour early putting out signs and making sure the house was ready to show .  And then it rained all afternoon, remember?  Hard!  I sat there for four hours with my lemonade and cookies and didn’t see another living person.  

Gee, why didn’t you just close up shop and go home?

Believe me, I wanted to, but I promised the seller two open houses and this was the day they chose, so I was stuck.

Don decided that a typical homeowner – carefully prepped by a sharp agent – could easily show his or her own house and, with a little more preparation, hold an open house.  That would save a lot of time in a typical agent’s career – and saving time saves money.  Whose money, you ask?  In Don Taylor’s mind, it saved the homeowner money.  After all it was the homeowner taking over these simple tasks that steal agents’ time.  With a seller participating in this fashion he would need fewer agents and could charge less.

There’s more to how Help-U-Sell brokers are able to charge less and still make more than their Ordinary counterparts.  There is a ton of difference in how Help-U-Sell offices approach the business – marketing, lead capture, incubation, transaction processing – but for now, we’ll stay focused on this one aspect:  Seller Participation.

Think about it for a moment.  You’re a home seller.  It’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon.  You’re home, working in the yard.  The house is neat and clean . . . what the heck!  Why not put out the Open House sign and a few directionals.

Meanwhile, Ms. P, always looking for her dream home, takes a new route from the grocery store and finds your open house.  After a bit of friendly chatting, you get her name and contact information (your agent prepped you well), and take her through the house, which she loves.  She wants more detail and might want to make an offer.  You hand her your broker’s card and tell her he will be in touch.  You wave goodbye.

You call your broker, who calls Ms. P, has her come to the office to answer her questions and have her pre-qualified for a mortgage.  Then he brings her back to the house for a more in-depth tour.  That evening, he comes back with her offer and earnest money check.

You found the buyer yourself.  There was no outside broker or agent involved.  When the sale closes, you’re only going to have to pay your Help-U-Sell Low Set Fee.  It is a successful sale – and you saved thousands of dollars in commissions!

That’s a Do It Yourself I can live with!


The Consumer Speaks Volumes

While waiting for the war stories from yesterday’s National Help-U-Sell Get A Listing Day to pour in, I did a little idle surfing and came across the following.  This was on a Q&A website owned and operated by a Re/Max agent in the Minneapolis area.  I don’t know who the Help-U-Sell Broker mentioned is, but he/she is doing one heck of a job representing us in the local market.  Enjoy!

What are the costs associated with selling your home?

How much does an agent take? How much is an attorney? How much is a title company policy? What are the other costs associated with selling my home? Is there an average % people use to estimate all selling costs?

Courtney H

01 Feb 2010

I work for a real estate agency…I wouldn’t do it for sale by owner if I were you. I don’t know a lot of the costs, but I do know that most FSBO’s never sale and end up wasting a LOT of money trying and then end up hiring an agent anyway. If you do hire an agent, more then like the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent each get 3% of the cost of the home. But…they do all the marketing and negotiatin for you and that can get expensive. Good luck either way!


01 Feb 2010

Of course agents here will tell you NOT to go FSBO, they need to pay bills and nothing is selling! FSBO only works in a HOT market. I am not willing to pay 6% of my equity (approx 30k which is nuts) to a realtor so I am going with a hybrid which is Help-U-Sell. Only thing I have to do is show the house and I save thousands.
I just interviewed 2 ‘traditional agents’ and 1 Help U sell broker. Help U Sell  DOES NOT charge the fee up front. You can pay when it sells just like the traditional way. After chatting with them I am thoroughly convinced the only thing the traditional agent does the discount agent does not is SHOW THE HOME. The traditional agents tried to BS me by saying they have tons of buyers, the market is going up, they have unique marketing plans, blah blah blah . The Help U sell broker worked for Prudential and  Remax in the past and he is no joke. Interview all your options and go with the one option that will be cost effective AND will market your home. Good luck.

Seller Involvement

Help-U-Sell started as a For Sale By Owner enhancement.  The original signs, in fact, used to say ‘For Sale By Owner — Assisted by Help-U-Sell’ (or something to that effect).  Lore has it that numerous complaints and threats of suit by traditional brokers led the young company to change the verbiage to ‘For Sale with Owner.’ 

In its pure form (that means ADTDI:  as Don Taylor did it),  the Seller’s phone number was on the sign – prominently – and in the ads.  The Seller took many if not most inquiry calls, handled showing the property and holding open houses.  The broker only went to the property to take the listing and to show it (if he had a buyer). 

This all served to free the broker to focus on high-payoff activities:  managing the marketing, followup, solving problems, looking for new business.  Instead of housing an office full of agents to manage the flyer box and hold open houses, the broker had his sellers handling these basic tasks.  Sellers liked it too, realizing that through their own efforts they were reducing their commission expense by thousands. 

Of course, for it to work, the seller had to be coached — usually at the end of the listing consultation — on how to show the property, how to get a name and number from everyone who called or came through, and how to fax those names and numbers over to the broker for followup every few days.  But we’re not talking rocket science here; most sellers found their part to be easy and enjoyable.

Fast Forward to 2009 . . .

By and large, the seller’s phone number has disappeared from the sign and from the marketing.  The phrase ‘For Sale with Owner’ has vanished, too.  Help-U-Sell SignWhy?  The obvious answer is that we all discovered, somewhere in the late ’90s, that buyers were important to our business.  Today the broker wants those calls.  He wants to show the property so that he has an opportunity to build rapport with the buyer prospect and perhaps get an appointment for a full Buyer Consultation.  In addition, the phrase ‘For Sale with Owner’ implied a limited service or discount offering and Help-U-Sell practitioners are adamant:  we are not discounters!  

Even seller-held open houses are less frequent than they once were.  This, I believe, is unfortunate. 

Open houses are all about 3 things:  making a strong statement in the market place, securing buyer leads, and sometimes even selling the house that’s held open.  Every open house is an opportunity to put 3, 4, 5 or more directional signs out.  Every open house is and event to be publicized to neighbors and members of the buyer pool.  If the broker and his handful of agents are the only people holding open houses, that greatly limits the number that can be held.  If, on the other hand, all of our sellers hold all of our listings open just once a week, the impact — in terms of signage and office visibility — can be huge.

But what about the leads?  Easy.  For obvious reasons, the seller shouldn’t be letting anonymous strangers troop through the house.  You must give them a sign-in sheet and coach them to use it faithfully:  no name and number = no admittance.  You call them after the open house to remind them to fax you the sign-in sheet so you can followup with those who came through.  Imagine the boost your buyer pool would experience if every Monday you received sign-in sheets from a dozen sellers, each of whom held a Sunday open house! 

We want to coach the seller to be as involved in the selling process as he or she wants to be.  We want them to distribute flyers to their friends, family and co-workers.  We want them to put them up at the cleaners and the coffee shop.  We want them to do additional advertising on their own and hold additional open houses.  Why?  Because that gives them the greatest shot at finding their own buyer and saving the largest amount of money.  And that’s what we’re all about:  Seller Savings.

Never forget:  the most powerful message we have is not that our listing sold.  It’s that our listing sold and the seller saved thousands!

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