Gearing Up For Summit

The Help-U-Sell Success Summit takes place next week in Las Vegas.  It’s an annual event where family members from across the country gather to energize and plan.  I love this meeting because it is the time when I get to interact with a sizable group of really good real estate people.

I’ve been working on my opening comments and it seems this year I have a lot to say.  I believe we are on the verge of big change in our industry.  I can see everything shifting rather quickly leaving all but the bravest and most forward thinking out in the cold.  I believe what happened in the securities business after Charles Schwab and what happened in the travel industry after Expedia Orbitz and Travelocity is about to happen in the real estate industry.

Empowered consumers, armed with information that used to be available only to Realtors and with increasingly intuitive tools are doing more and more of the job for themselves.

When Schwab put information and tools once reserved for stock brokers online for anyone to use, he also slashed commissions.  Because his clients were doing a lot of the work on their own, he started charging a Low Set Fee for trades.  The industry was transformed.

Not so in real estate.  Consumers have the information, they continue to get the tools and today do more and more of the work that goes into buying and selling on their own.  What hasn’t changed are the fees ordinary brokers charge.  My yoga teacher said it best:

I don’t know what our agent did.  We found the house, we negotiated the sale, we did all the running around.  She opened the door and collected a commission check that was bigger than our down payment!

I’m not saying Realtors aren’t important.  In truth, they provide a good and valuable service.  It’s just that the service provided is not worth 6% of the sale price.  With consumers increasingly able to do the work themselves we’re just moments away from the tipping point where they decide the good and valuable service real estate agents provide is not worth the price.

It  is then that ordinary real estate agents will become irrelevant.

Add to that dynamic the fact that affordability is becoming a huge issue . . . and you have a near perfect storm.

Affordability?  Yes.  Today, fewer Americans can afford to buy a home than in years gone by.  Prices have continued to slowly rise while median household income as fallen.  Yes, it has.  Today’s families earn less than they did 5 years ago and that fact has pushed many out of the housing market and  into the rental market.  In parts of California, fewer than 30% of the population can afford to buy the average home.

So on one hand we have these dinosaurs, these Realtors, clamoring for their 6%.  On the other hand, sale prices (which include that 6%) are getting out of reach of consumers. Something has to give.

My guess is that the guy who can’t sell his $300,000 house and  pay his $18,000 real estate commission will opt to get rid of the ordinary agent, drop the price to $285,000 and list with a Help-U-Sell broker charging, say, $5,950.  That’s how we make homes affordable AND restore the value-for-value relationship between real estate services and fees.

Help-U-Sell Success Summit Update

Ahhhh.  That’s what I feel every year at this time.  The NAR Expo is history and the Help-U-Sell Success Summit is done for another year.

I had lots of anxiety going into this year’s Summit.  Last year’s event was so good I thought it would be hard to top.  Also, our numbers were down slightly because of the location.  Not that Orlando isn’t a great place for a meeting, it’s just that the largest concentration of Help-U-Sell brokers is in the West and they pretty much stayed home.  One of our newest members, Kurt Steffein, made the haul from California (and what a wonderful energy he brought along), and Lona Murphy from Oregon surprised everyone by showing up unannounced!  A special thank you goes out to both of them.  But as we set the room for the meeting, we kept adding chairs and adding chairs, and by the time Jack Bailey rolled in with his entire Coaching Group in tow, we were about 30 people.

I could go on and on about who came and the nuggets they shared, but here’s something that’s more important: It was once again, a great meeting.   There is excitement about the business and the the opportunities bursting forth over the next several years.  Our crew is hungry and ready – their enthusiasm and love for what they do hasn’t paled in the downturn of the last few years.  Everybody who attended stayed fully engaged for the entire meeting.  We had no dropouts and no nod-offs.  Conversation was lively and productive.  And there was something else about this group that came through loud and clear – they all genuinely like and care for each other.  We talk about a Help-U-Sell Family a lot, and I know, that language is typical of a lot of real estate organizations.  But here it means something.  It really does.

What were the key messages of this meeting?  There were many, but here’s what I take away:

This year – and next year – are OUR years.  For the first time in a long time, sellers with equity are returning to the market.  That’s our target.  Always has been.  We have a huge competitive advantage in a marketplace where Joe and Sally Homeowner want to sell, because Joe and Sally also want to save – and that’s what we’re all about:  selling and saving.  After slogging through a market where many if not most of our sellers were . . . banks . . . who really couldn’t care less about what makes us unique, special and better, we are once again going to be in the driver’s seat.

That’s great, but it also means we have to return to an old habit that we’ve gotten away from in recent years:  marketing.  We have to dust off our logos (so to speak) and go back to spreading the word that we are here, people use us, it works and they save money.  The way we spread that word has changed somewhat.  It’s much more electronic and frankly, less costly.  But make no mistake about it:  as right as the timing is, it will mean nothing if we don’t re-invest in marketing who we are and what we do.

We are real estate people (thank goodness!) and as such are people people.  The highest and best use of our time is usually to be face to face with consumers.  However, there is an electronic universe in which the people we need to be talking to are living, at least part-time.  We have to be comfortable with that electronic landscape, with how it works and how to position ourselves within it.  I know, for most of us, that means hiring someone to manage our online presence; but even then, we have to have a basic understanding of how the Internet works from a marketing standpoint and how to take advantage of the huge opportunities there.

We are exceptionally blessed to have Robbie Stevens, Tony Tramontano, and everyone else at Help-U-Sell dedicated to securing our position in this new world and patiently nurturing our collective understanding.  I saw so many lights going on in that room the last couple of days as Robbie worked through some of the basics of our own Office Management System.  I think we’re all going home more comfortable and a little wiser.

I also remain in awe of Ron McCoy.   Of the Corporate team, he has the greatest longevity – about 12 years – but it’s much more than that.  In addition to all of the history, the great ups and downs of Help-U-Sell, he has a depth of understanding of what makes us tick and how to turn that into business success.  He has a great strategic mind and his attitude is unflagging.  After a grueling hour of tool after tool with an Internet marketing ‘guru,’ Ron showed us how to use Instagram to improve our online impact.  He showed us, we did it, we had fun, and we got it.  If you don’t believe me, check Facebook for yesterday, Nov. 13, and you’ll see a whole passel of pictures of Ron during the presentation, taken and posted via Instagram.

Mostly we are blessed to have such a delightful, scrappy team.  So many of the people who attended the meeting joined the Franchise in 2005 and 2006 – at the onset of the worst real estate market in history.  And they are still here, still strong, still smiling and many have done much more than simply survive.  Many have built remarkable businesses as one after another of their traditional competitors have downsized, consolidated and gone out of business.  It’s always been great to be Help-U-Sell.  It’s once again a great time to be Help-U-Sell.

Help-U-Sell, where different is better
It’s Good To Be Help-U-Sell




Get Ready!

Help-U-Sell Success Summit 2012

November 12-13

Orlando Florida

Immediately Following the National Association of REALTORS 2012 Expo and Convention

Join us for two days of high energy conversation!

Discover what Core Marketing is today!

Hear from the brokers who had the largest increase in closed business this year versus last!

Pick the brain of an Internet Marketing GURU!

Check your Help-U-Sell email for full details and then

REGISTER by clicking

Building and Managing Your Online Presence

Nick Taylor from Zillow spoke to the Help-U-Sell team at our Success Summit last November.  He brought a wealth of good information, not only about Zillow but also about online marketing in general.  In the four months since I’ve heard from several brokers who have increased their lead generation success using what they learned.  Nick just revised that presentation and posted it online.  It’s still a presentation – and would be best with a presenter (Nick), but the slides are full of good information if you simply read them.  Here it is:

Nick Taylor’s Online Marketing Presentation

Creative Financing for 2012 – What’s Hot & What’s Not

That’s the title for Patricia Boyd’s session at the Help-U-Sell Success Summit next month.  I heard from her yesterday and am excited about what she’s planning.  It’s going to be an interactive session with the attendees dictating the direction of the discussion.  This is a great approach for our group because we tend to be more knowledgeable about finance than most Realtors.  We will be able to drill down on the ideas and programs that we want to know about, not wasting time on things we already understand!

As a person who has made and orchestrated many ‘presentations,’ I am impressed.  You really have to know your stuff to be that kind of spontaneous while leading a meeting.  I’ve seen it only a few times, most notably with Steven Covey.  He had his assistant backstage on a laptop with ALL of his slides.  They were not organized in a linear, slide 1, slide 2, slide 3 fashion, but were just on the assistant’s screen as individual graphics.  As Covey was talking, he’d say, ‘Put up that graph, please,’ and ‘let’s see the slide about organization.’  The assistant knew the material so well he could quickly get the right graphic on the screen and Covey was able to let his presentation flow in the direction he wanted at that moment.  The result was a powerful session absolutely tailored to the audience.  In the end we all felt as if we’d been allowed to wander around inside Steven Covey’s mind for an hour.

Patricia comes with about 30 years of real estate finance experience.  Her agenda has always been the same:  help consumers make good decisions by educating Realtors about financing.  Sometime in the early 80’s, she taught me what a ‘junk fee’ was and how to spot them in my client’s Truth in Lending docs.  It’s that kind of knowledge that enables a broker or agent to bring high value to a real estate transaction.  I expect there will be lots of note-taking when she meets our group Monday afternoon, Nov. 14!   Learn more about Patricia HERE.

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