Attention Oahu Real Estate Agents!

It’s time to get serious about your career in real estate.  The market is moving at a rapid pace, homes are selling and it looks like we are in for several years of marketplace normalcy.

Now is the time when great careers and great real estate businesses are made.  It is your moment, your time to shine, your best shot at major success . . . IF you are positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.  What does that mean?

If you are an agent working for an ordinary real estate company, be it franchised or independent, you are competing against thousands of other agents just like yourself, with the same tools, same information, same offering, and same pricing.  The only edge you could possibly have in that fishbowl – the only things that might set you apart from the pack – are your personality and your work ethic.  So, let’s assume you really apply yourself next year.  You work harder and smarter and you polish up that smile . . .  and you go from doing 12 deals to doing 16.  That’s very nice, but it’s hardly the stuff of real estate greatness.

This is not the time to increase your production by 30%.  It is the time to increase it by 300%.  And you won’t do it by doing the same things you did last year and the year before, only doing them harder.  It’s time to look for a better way to do the real estate business.

And you know what the way is:  It is Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties.  Here’s why:

As Help-U-Sell Brokers and Agents, we go into the marketplace with a consumer offer that is not only fundamentally different than that of our competitors, but also superior to theirs from a consumer point of view.  We accomplish the same results the pack of ordinary agents and brokers do, but we save people thousands over what they’d pay anyone else!  It is an offer that is so compelling that, now the word is out all over the Island, many potential sellers want to at least talk with us before making a listing decision.  Can you imagine how much more you could do if people you don’t know called you out of the clear blue and asked, ‘You can save me money, right?  How does this work?’ 

We focus on marketing and marketplace intelligence that more closely resembles what Home Depot does than what ABC Realty does. And because Help-U-Sell marketing is systematic and focused, it produces a steady stream of buyer and seller leads into the office.

Our agents love working here because we have the one thing nobody else can give them:  leads.  While agents at other companies flirt with burn out from the gigantic job description they try to manage, our agents have a streamlined, focused job and an opportunity to do more, make more and have more fun doing it.

It is a smaller, tightly knit office team that is outperforming companies with 10 times the agents.  It is very different from an ordinary office where the broker begs people to come to work, begs people to stay, begs people to attend sales meeting, begs people to do the prospecting they promised to do and so on (and, aren’t you getting tired of all that begging?).

If you are mired in an ordinary real estate office with nothing special to offer other than your track record and personality, give me a call and let’s talk about how things might be different and better at Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

A Few Of My Real Estate Pet Peeves

  • Real estate professionals who don’t know how to use their calculators and can’t figure (or at least look up) a mortgage payment on the fly.
  • Real estate professionals who don’t know how to measure and calculate square footage (at least good enough to tell if the tax records are inaccurate).
  • Real estate professionals who can fill in the blanks of their State approved purchase agreement but can’t walk through it with a buyer or seller providing an explanation for each boilerplate paragraph.
  • Real estate professionals who stop at ‘No,’ when trying to get a deal closed or financed.  The answer to ‘No’  is always the same:  ‘What do we need to do/add/change/find to make it work?’ and ‘What can I do turn this around?’
  • Real estate professionals who can’t do basic financial pre-qualification of a buyer. (Though important, this is not a substitute for an in-depth discussion with a lender).
  • Real estate professionals who can’t accurately (within a reasonable tolerance) calculate seller net proceeds and buyers’ funds needed to close quickly and on a legal pad if necessary.
  • Real estate professionals who are afraid of the Internet . . . or even uncomfortable with it.
  • Real estate professionals who can’t clearly explain, in five minutes or less, how they and their company are different and better for buyers and sellers.
  • Real estate professionals who don’t spend money on marketing.
  • Real estate professionals who expect the MLS to sell all of their listings.
  • Real estate professionals who don’t constantly question why things are the way they are and how they could be better for the buying and selling public.

I am proud to tell you that the team at Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is up to each one of these challenges and much more!  If you are wanting to buy or sell, there is nobody better to help you through the process.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

Are You Paying FOUR Commissions?

One of the reasons ordinary real estate sales commissions are so high is that they are designed to compensate multiple entities.

recFor example, lets assume you list your $600,000 home with Phyllis from ABC Realty (a fictional company I made up for this example).  Her company charges you and every other home seller 6% of the sales price as commission.  That’s $36,000,  assuming a full price sale.

You scratch your head and look at Phyllis.  She seems competent and she’s certainly nice . . . but $36,000?  To sell your house in a market where average marketing time is less than 60 days?  No wonder she’s driving a new S-Class Mercedes!

But don’t blame Phyllis.  Only a portion of that $36,000 is going into her pocket.  In fact, before it ever hits her company account HALF of it will be paid to the outside MLS broker and agent who bring the buyer.  So now Phyllis and her broker are looking at $18,000 which they have to split.  In that ordinary real estate world, agents usually get the largest share, so let’s give Phyllis 75%:  $13,500.  So now it will take Phyllis 8 sales to pay for her new Mercedes, not just 3.

That’s all fine and good, but you STILL paid $36,000 to sell your house!

And here’s the thing:  while most real estate transactions involve two real estate companies and two agents, many DON’T.  It is possible that Phyllis and her broker will find a buyer for the property and there will be no outside MLS broker and agent to compensate.  But you know what you’re going to pay in that event?  Yep:  6%, $36,000.

And, there is a chance – and you’d be surprised how often it happens – that you may find the buyer yourself. Maybe a neighbor has a relative who wants to live close by or someone at your office has always wanted to live there.  You call Phyllis, she writes it up and you go to closing where you pay . . . $36,000 in sales commission.

It’s a one size fits all world.  And 6% is 6% is 6%.

Real Estate Commissions don’t have to be crazy.  There is an alternative.  And it is Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties.  We are a full-service real estate company, and we charge differently and we charge less.  We allow for the possibility that no outside MLS broker may be involved in the transaction as well as the possibility that you may find the buyer yourself.  And in either of those cases, you pay less. Our fee schedule is logical and is not based on a one-size-fits-all, rubber-stamped percentage!  Our track record is outstanding and, in fact, we beat our competitors in the MLS on every key metric.  Our days on market is less and our listing price to selling price ratio is higher.  It means a faster sale that produces more bottom line dollars for you, the seller.  When you are ready to sell, call me and let me show you our outstanding program.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

The Supply of Homes For Sale on Oahu is Shrinking

There is an interesting metric used in the real estate business to evaluate the nature and health of the market.  It is the ‘absorption rate,’ or the rate at which listings in inventory are absorbed by the pool of active buyers.  It is calculated by first discovering how fast homes sold during the recent past – say, six months – and dividing that into current inventory.  If we were averaging 50 homes sold per month over the previous six months and there are 300 homes in inventory today, that means that we have a 6 month supply of listings (300/50).

If all of that math makes your head hurt, don’t worry; to understand absorption rate you don’t have to know how to calculate it.

What does this mean to Hawaii home owners?  The April 2016 absorption rate for Oahu fell by almost 12% over the previous year.  In April of 2015 we had a 3.89 month supply of single family homes for sale.  This April we had 3.48 month supply of homes for sale.  I know the difference seems slight, but there is a trend here.  Listing inventories have been slowly creeping downward for some time leaving us in a situation where there really aren’t enough homes on the market to satisfy the demand.

For condos, the decline is not so apparent:  in April 2015 we had a 3.21 month supply  and this year it’s 3.2 months.  Condos continue to be an attractive and affordable option for new homeowners coming into the market as well as those seeking a more maintenance free lifestyle.

Here’s the thing: homes are selling, and fast.  We have an inventory shortage; there are not enough homes on the market to satisfy the demand.  In a ‘normal’ market, you’d expect there to be close to a six month supply of homes.  Of course, here on Oahu, nothing much is ‘normal,’ so for us, four or five months would be pretty good.

For home sellers, this tight, low inventory market means that you have a good shot at selling for top dollar in a short period of time.  ‘Top Dollar’ doesn’t mean overpriced.  Even in the hottest markets, overpriced is still overpriced, and buyers rarely pay more than market value – or what an appraiser would determine the value to be – for a home.  If you’ve been thinking of making a move, my advice would be to call in a professional – me – to help you determine what you are likely to get for you home today, and whether selling now is a good plan.

Buyers, I know it’s frustrating when the perfect home comes on the market and has multiple offers in a few days, but that’s what happens in a market like this.  It is not a reason to withdraw from the process or to stop looking altogether.  It is a reason to get your ducks in a row, your finances in order, your pre-qualification letter in hand, and be ready to move quickly when the right home appears.  Prices will only be higher in another year and despite the competition today, this may be your best opportunity to own your dream home.

As always, we at Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties are ready to bring the considerable talent, knowledge and creativity of our team of professionals to bear on your home buying or selling project.  One of the things we do very well is to help people weigh the pros and cons of any real estate decision, and we offer that consultation to you with no obligation.  All it takes is a phone call.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

Tips for Home Sellers

Selling your home is a big undertaking. There are a lot of things to consider, decisions to make, action to be taken. This short video can help you in this process.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

Is It Time For A Real Estate ‘House Cleaning?’

Inman News is a big real estate industry portal.  It’s not the National Association of REALTORS, but carries a lot of weight in Realtor circles.  Recently, Inman surveyed real estate brokers and agents along with a smaller group of “industry insiders” about the biggest challenges and opportunities in real estate.  

The results were strong enough that the published report bears the title:  Why and How Real Estate Needs to Clean House.  The respondents put much of the responsibility for the industry’s tarnished image on their own shoulders, citing lack of professionalism, ease of entry, part time agents, and poor supervision as issues.  

Here is a smattering of comments from respondents:

  • “Inexperienced and uneducated agents intentionally or unintentionally commit ethics violations and give the industry a bad reputation.”
  • “As technology becomes better and faster, the relevance of agents in the next three to five years could be in trouble.”
  • “Customers are already finding homes without agents, can process a loan online.  The next phase is title search, inspections, closings, etc., without leaving your desk.”
  • “Technology is watering down the personal touch consumers need to feel confident the agent is taking care of their need.”

I admit it:  I chuckled.  Not to downplay the professionalism issue (the industry could probably shed half or more of all licensees and better serve the public), I am amazed that nowhere in the report did anybody ever question the pricing structure of traditional real estate brokers!

There’s all of this chatter about consumers using technology to marginalize agents and yet no questioning of why they’re doing it. And yet the reason is so simple: real estate sales commissions are way too high. Consumers no longer see the value return for those high commissions and are opting to go it alone.

Over the past 50 years there have been huge changes in the way real estate professionals transact business.  Think about it!  We’ve got lock boxes and talking signs, websites and the MLS, Facebook, email and blogs, mobile phones and tons of technology that didn’t exist a few decades ago. Every bit of it has made real estate easier and less costly to sell.  But what has happened to commission pricing?  Nothing.  Traditional realtors charge home sellers exactly as they did 50 years ago:  6% (or 7% or 5% or any other %).  It makes no sense.

It made no sense a dozen years ago when I made the decision to become a Help-U-Sell broker, and stopped charging consumers like everyone else.  At Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, we charge a Low Set Fee for our service and consumers save thousands of dollars over what they’d likely pay an ordinary Realtor.  It’s logical and fair;  and it’s like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room.

Nobody has a problem with the service we offer because it is at least as comprehensive and complete as what our competitors offer (and in some ways it is far superior).  We don’t cut service.  We just charge differently and we charge less.  At Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, the fee you pay is a bargain for the service you receive.  

You don’t have to be fed up with the poor service and high commissions typical of regular real estate to call us; you just have to be curious about how we can save you thousands when you sell your house.  Make the call today:  (808) 593-8811.

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties: NOT a Discount Service

I ran into an old real estate friend the other day.  We met at a training meeting years ago.  He had bounced from company to company, staying in one place for a year or two, then moving on to what he perceived to be a better deal.  I think he’d been with four companies in seven years.  He even got out of the business for awhile a few years back when the market was difficult.

‘What are you doing these days,’ he asked.

‘I’m still building my Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties office,’ I replied. ‘We get bigger and more productive every month.’

‘I don’t understand how you can do that!’ he quipped.  ‘I mean, discount brokers have their place, I guess, but you can’t be making any money and the harm you’re doing to full service Realtors is huge!’

I paused, letting the steam pour out my ears.  ‘I’m not sure I know what you mean,’ I finally replied.

‘Well, people don’t care too much for realtors anyway, and when you charge a couple hundred dollars to put a sign in the yard and the listing in the MLS – and that’s it – it just makes things worse.’

‘Is that what you think we do?’ I asked.

‘Well, sure.  I don’t mean you personally, but that’s what Help-U-Sell is famous for, isn’t it?’

‘I guess it depends on who you’re listening to,’ I answered. ‘If you pay attention to the chatter of traditional real estate agents – particularly those who are nervous about losing market share to Help-U-Sell brokers – I’m sure that’s what you’ll hear.  But if you talk with the consumers we’ve helped, you’ll hear a very different story.’

‘How so?’ he asked.

‘First off, we’re not discounters,’ I responded. ‘A discounter takes the ordinary cost of a good or service, cuts it and makes a corresponding cut in the good or service to offset the price cut.  Maybe widgets are selling for $2.00 apiece.  The discounter will find a way to make them for less – probably with inferior materials – and then cut the price to, say, $1.5o.  People who shop price and don’t care about quality will often gravitate toward discounters.’

‘What’s that got to do with real estate,’ he asked.

‘A real estate discounter would look at what most other brokers are charging – say, 6% of the sale price – and then find a way to charge less.  For example, maybe the discounter would charge 4% but provide a minimal or limited service.’

‘Yeah,’ he came back, ‘That’s what you do, right?’

‘No,’ I said, ‘We’re not discounters. We don’t charge a lower percentage of the sale price for our services. Our pricing model is completely different.  We charge a set fee to sell a house, just like your dentist does when he fills a tooth.  Everybody pays about the same thing.  But we do everything traditional brokers do – and actually more.  There is no reduction in service.  We are absolutely a full service real estate company.  We just have a different business model – a much more efficient model – that enables us to charge differently, and charge less.’

‘Well, that sounded like somebody’s script!’ he quipped.

‘It’s not a script,’ I answered, ‘It’s the truth.  When a seller lists with us, we put a sign in the yard, create professional fliers and a website with dozens of photos and a virtual tour.  We put the home in the MLS and market it aggressively to other Realtors.  We put the listing up on dozens of Internet real estate portals including Trulia, Zillow and  We hold open houses, screen buyers for financial capability, show our listings, help our sellers weigh the good and bad of offers, calculate anticipated net proceeds, coordinate inspections and all details, solve problems when they arise and look out for our clients’ interests all the way through closing.’

‘And how much extra do your home sellers have to pay for that additional service?’  he asked. I was getting perturbed.

‘Jim, are you listening to me?’ I asked. ‘That’s what we do for all of our listings and we do it for a low set fee instead of a big percentage based commission.  There’s nothing extra, no additional fee for any of our services.’

‘If what you’re saying is true,’ he came back, ‘Why wouldn’t everyone sell with Help-U-Sell?’

‘Well, of course, everyone should!’ I answered. ‘But do the math:  there are about a million traditional real estate agents and brokers out there – just like you – and there are just a few hundred of us in the Help-U-Sell system.  We have to reach a lot of consumers before most people begin to understand how we are different and better.  But we’re doing it!  little by little, every day.’

‘Ok,’ he said, ‘Fine; for now.  Just do me a favor and stay out of my area, ok?  And next time the market tightens up and it gets harder to sell real estate, I expect you’ll be closing up shop anyway.’

‘Jim, old pal,’ I began.  ‘I have a listing appointment in a few minutes so I’ll have to cut this short, but let me remind you:  I was here before the market went down seven years ago.  I did ok when the market was in chaos and real estate companies were closing right and left . . . when you left the business, in fact.  And I’m still here, making more and more Oahu consumers happy with our service every month.  Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties isn’t going anywhere except up!’

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.  

How to Keep More of Your Equity When You Sell

Medical professionals are reporting a new malady that is spreading so fast that it has reached near epidemic status on Oahu!  Symptoms include ulcers, sudden crying jags, loud vocal outbursts and occasional acts of violence on pens, papers, vases and other ceramics.  The name of this malady:  Real Estate Commission Sticker Shock!

Could you be suffering from this?  If you’ve ever looked down at your closing statement and gasped when you saw the commission amount, if you’ve ever become agitated or begun to sweat when your real estate broker quotes his or her commission rate, you could be at risk.  Thankfully, there is a quick and easy cure and a way to avoid this epidemic all together:  List you home with Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties instead!  Here, you’ll get an exceptional, professional, full service real estate experience . . . for a fraction of what an ordinary real estate broker might charge.

At Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, we charge a low set fee for our comprehensive services, so everyone pretty much pays the same thing, and you can save thousands in real estate commissions. No, we’re not a Do-It-Yourself company, nor are we a stripped down, discount version of a regular real estate company. We are a full service real estate agency, doing all the things other real estate brokers do – and more – but charging a set fee for our services.

Does it work?  Since September of 2011, we’ve sold 535 homes on Oahu and saved our home sellers more than $6 million in commissions!  Our average home seller saves more than $11,000 over what an ordinary real estate broker might charge, and we’ve averaged just 28 days to sell our listings!

If you’ve been in your home for awhile, you’ve worked hard to build equity in your property. That’s your nest-egg, your ticket to your next great home. Don’t just give it away to some real estate agent because that’s the way it’s always been done! Step up to the new way to sell your home and save. Step up to Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties.

“Kiddie” Loans are not Just for Kids!

The FHA has a wonderful program for parents of children going off to college.  Faced with housing expense in addition to tuition, parents sometimes seek alternatives.  Unfortunately, they often miss one of the best options out there:  The FHA Kiddie Condo program.

The program allows the parent and child to own a suitable home in the college town together.  The parent’s income and credit are used for qualifying purposes and though they won’t be occupying the property, they can still buy it with as little as 3% down.  The co-signing child occupies the property and can even rent out additional bedrooms to other students, offsetting the monthly payment. And, by the way, despite the name, the property doesn’t have to be a condo. Single family homes are fine, too.

At the end of a four year (or more) college stay, the property can be sold; and often it will have appreciated to the point of turning a nice profit for the owners, potentially offsetting some of the other expenses of college or providing a down payment for the graduate’s next home.

FHA maximum loan amounts vary by location and that must be considered when looking at this type of program.  For example, in Honolulu County, the maximum FHA loan is $721,050.  A student attending the University of Hawaii could certainly find suitable housing for that.  But a student attending, say, Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon would have a maximum loan limit of $299,000.  Quite a difference! But remember, the median home price in Corvallis is about $288,000, so that maximum is workable.

Now here comes the interesting twist:  the program also works at the other end of the spectrum.  If you have elderly parents living on a fixed income, you may use this program to co-purchase a home for them.  Again, you’d have to qualify for the property and you’d both be on the deed.  By taking title to the property as Joint Tenants, you allow for the property to pass to surviving owners upon the death of others, outside of probate.  That could be a very nice benefit!

The difficult part of this program is finding a lender who understands it and knows how to get this kind of mortgage approved.  Thankfully, we have several lenders with whom we work who can guide you through the process, so give us a call if this sounds like a program you could use!

Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is a full service real estate company that provides exceptional service while charging less than ordinary Realtors.  We’ve been successfully helping buyers and sellers all over Oahu for more than 12 years and we’d be delighted to help you achieve your housing dreams.  Contact us at (808) 593-8811, or visit our website.