Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Report alleges bullying of nontraditional brokers

Consumer group calls for more action by state regulators

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
By Glenn Roberts Jr.Inman News

State regulators should take a more active role to prevent discrimination and promote competition in the real estate industry, the Consumer Federation of America advocates in a report released this month.

"Traditional brokers, and often their trade associations, have used various strategies to limit or prevent the growth of nontraditional brokerage services," the consumer group charges in the report, "Nontraditional Real Estate Brokers: Growth and Challenges." State regulators, the report also states, "need to supplement the efforts of ... federal agencies to promote a free, nondiscriminatory residential real estate brokerage marketplace."

It is the latest in a series of reports issued this year by the Washington, D.C.-based federation that criticize the real estate brokerage industry's treatment of nontraditional companies and calls upon state regulators to step up their efforts to protect real estate consumers. The advocacy group is supported by about 300 nonprofit organizations and has a mission to advance pro-consumer policy on a variety of issues.

In July the advocacy group called for the independent regulation of real estate brokers, citing its survey that found about 79 percent of all state real estate commissioners "earn a living through real estate transactions," with 70 percent working as real estate brokers or salespersons. Stephen Brobeck, executive director for the consumer group, encouraged governors and state legislators to pass measures that prohibit active real estate brokers from serving as real estate commissioners.

And in June, the consumer federation released a report that described the traditional real estate brokerage industry as a "real estate cartel" and called for "fuller and more timely consumer information, ending of discrimination against nontraditional brokers, and effective, independent regulation" in the industry. The National Association of Realtors rebuffed findings in this report, stating that the real estate industry "is one of the most competitive business environments in the world" and features about 80,000 brokerage companies and more than 2 million real estate licensees.

This latest report describes the various business models used by nontraditional brokerage companies and provides examples of industry practices that can restrict competition. Nontraditional brokers, as described in the report, "offer services, charge prices, or provide (or do not provide) representation in ways that differ from, and usually threaten, traditional brokers."

In response to this report, the National Association of Realtors stated that consumers can choose to work with "discount, limited-service or minimal-service brokerages," among others. "NAR's policies foster the interests of all Realtors and real estate consumers. We support all business models and favor none."

Debbie E. Campagnola, CEO for the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, an international group that includes representatives for real estate regulatory agencies, did not respond today to Inman News requests for comment about the report.

There is "considerable evidence" that nontraditional brokers have grown in number and market share of real estate sales, the report states. The share of real estate sales involving nontraditional brokers rose from 2 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2005, according to statistics from real estate research company RealTrends cited in the report. And Wall Street Journal articles have stated that the proportion of home sellers using traditional brokers declined from 74 percent in 2002 to 70 percent in 2005.

In addition, a CFA examination of Yellow Pages directory listings of real estate agents in 10 cities found that "there has been a large increase in advertising by nontraditional brokers." For example, listings of discount, flat-fee and for-sale-by-owner business directory listings increased by 152 percent from 1995-2005 in 10 cities studied, while listings of exclusive buyer-agent businesses grew 20 percent in that time.

Also, "the prominent and pricey display advertising" for nontraditional real estate businesses grew 31 percent from 1995-2005 while the use of "boxed" directory listings grew by 73 percent, the report states. The 10 cities studied include: Akron, Austin, Boston, Columbia, Columbus, Des Moines, Miami, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Traditional brokers "did not passively accept changes in service, pricing and representation options," the report charges. Nontraditional brokers have at times faced an uneven playing field in participating in the real estate market, according to the 18-page report.
Some multiple listing services, for example, have placed some restrictions on the online display of a category of property listings that is more commonly used by nontraditional brokers, and the Federal Trade Commission has announced actions against several MLSs in an effort to stamp out this practice.

Also, the CFA report cited MLS rules that prevent homeowners from displaying for-sale-by-owner signs when working with an MLS-member company, and boycotts of companies that do not offer a high enough level of compensation to cooperating brokers.

"Because traditional brokers working with buyers are usually compensated with a 'split' of the commission paid by sellers, the level of that split can and has influenced their interest in showing homes. Specifically, there is much evidence that traditional brokers are reluctant, or refuse, to show homes with commission splits under 3 percent," the report states, and includes references to complaints filed with the CFA, news articles and communications from real estate industry professionals.

While the CFA commends the efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop potentially anticompetitive practices in the real estate industry, the report states that "discrimination is too varied and frequent for federal agencies ever to adequately block completely. It is up to more independent and vigorous state regulators to conscientiously and fairly address every grievance filed by nontraditional brokers. And they must be willing to meaningfully sanction all egregious violations."

The report encourages state regulators to: "intervene fairly" in cases of anticompetitive actions against nontraditional brokers, to prevent brokers' actions that "deter competition and poach clients" from nontraditional brokers, to "act in a timely and impartial manner in disputes," and to study state and local real estate marketplaces "for bias against nontraditional real estate brokers and models."

Regulators, the report suggests, should also "repeal or oppose anticompetitive laws or legislation such as minimum-service and anti-rebate laws that exist in more than one-fifth of states. And they should direct state regulators to regulate the policies and practices of all service providers equally." Several states have passed laws -- in some cases despite the objections of Justice Department and FTC officials -- that require all real estate brokers to perform a specific set of services for their clients (known as "minimum-service" measures), and the federal agencies have taken action against some states that prevent real estate companies from offering rebates to consumers in transactions.

The CFA report states that consumers, too, can play a role "in ensuring a more competitive, pro-consumer marketplace," by negotiating for prices and services with real estate companies, and the report encourages consumers to file complaints with state regulators when they "see any evidence of discrimination against nontraditional services."

For additional information, please contact:

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty




Thursday, December 21, 2006

Home buyer's still king in Central Ohio

Real Estate Articles from Inman News

Record inventory slows sales, slashes prices

Thursday, December 21, 2006 Inman News
Columbus, Ohio

The buyer's market continued in Central Ohio during November, as record-high inventory cut further into sales and prices, the Columbus Board of Realtors reported.

Realtors recorded 1,763 home sales last month, down 7.2 percent from 1,899 sales a year earlier. Year-to-date, the region's 24,498 sales are 4.2 percent behind last year's pace.

Although the average sales price crept up to $167,371 last month from $166,266 in October, it has fallen 3 percent below the year-ago price of $172,586.

Record numbers of homes have been listed for sale this year in Central Ohio, the board reported, although new listings sank in November from both month- and year-ago levels. There were 2,899 new listings added to the market last month, compared with 3,844 in October and 3,368 a year ago, bringing the total number of active listings at month end to 16,501, up 15.4 percent from inventory levels in November 2005.

Chris Reese, president of the Columbus Board of Realtors, said the decline in new listings "is an indication that the market is headed in the direction of a more balanced playing field. Right now, the market clearly favors the buyer."

Reinforcing the current buyer's market is the markedly longer time houses are spending on the market. Homes that sold in November were listed for an average of 104 days, up 20.9 percent from a year ago when homes sold in 86 days.

The Columbus Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service serves all of Franklin, Delaware, Fayette, Madison, Morrow and Union counties and parts of Champagne, Clark, Licking, Fairfield, Knox, Logan, Marion and Pickaway counties.

For additional information on buying or selling a home in Central Ohio, please contact me:

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty




Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To FSBO or Not To FSBO

That is the question, at least for an estimated 20%-40% of homeowners. And the reason is universal - no one wants to pay 6% to sell their home. I was once a FSBO. I did it for the same reason and it taught me four invaluable lessons. First, traditional real estate is inefficient which is one reason why the cost is so high. The majority of agents have between zero and two homes listed and are probably only getting a sale once every three to four months, even longer in this market. After expenses, advertising and broker fees, they wouldn’t make any money if they didn’t charge 6%.

Second, most traditional agents have limited means and limited advertising to generate traffic to a home, which ironically is the main reason you hire them. And the MLS is not advertising. It’s a database, albeit a very useful one, but it is not advertising.

Third, signs sell homes. The small direction signs that say "for sale" and "open house" get people to your home. Why? Two reasons. One, people are attracted by neighborhoods and if they are in a neighborhood they like, will be attracted to homes in that neighborhood. And two, people like to shop.

Consumers want to know what they can get for their money and are willing to take the time to shop around. They want to see all the opportunities before making a decision. Put the two together and signs sell homes.

The final and most important reason is there is too much at stake both personally and financially to not have professional consultancy. One mistake in pricing or a contract item could cost you thousands and possibly much more than you saved by going it alone.

So how do you get expert, professional assistance, the best advertising and still save money on the sale of your home? The answer is Help-U-Sell. We provide complete real estate services for a low set fee paid at closing which saves our buyers and sellers thousands. We have an exclusive relationship with, the number one real estate website, so all of our homes are "enhanced" which means they are viewed, on average, 300% more than other listings. We also produce our own newspaper, the Real Estate News, which contains informative articles as well as showcase advertising for all our homes. And, we provide all your signs!

(Article courtesy of Chris Ognek, Owner, Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion

For further information, please contact;

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

Phone: 614.447.3050


Friday, December 15, 2006

Five tips to negotiate a home purchase in today's market

Savvy buyers can still bag right home at the right price
Friday, December 15, 2006
By Robert J. Bruss
Inman News

According to statistics from Realtor, home builder and government sources, the volume of new and resale home transactions is down but the actual sales prices of individual residences hasn't changed much in recent months.

To gain the attention of home buyers, many sellers (especially home builders) are offering special incentives such as no closing costs, commission bonus for the buyer's real estate agent, mortgage-interest-rate buy-downs, and even a free vacation or plasma TV for the buyer or buyer's agent.

During this slowest home sales season of the year between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day, extending to Super Bowl Sunday in many communities, motivated home sellers and builders are especially anxious to sell.

Consider yourself fortunate if you are in the market to buy a home now. Mortgage interest rates are still quite affordable at around 6 percent interest. Anyone with a new or resale house or condo on the market to sell at this time of the year is probably very eager to negotiate.

NEGOTIATE WITH SERIOUS HOME SELLERS. With a few local exceptions, in most home sales markets there is an oversupply of new and resale residences available. Just ask any real estate agent for the "number of days on market" and you will discover home listings languish much longer than a year ago.

Typical answers will be 90 to 120 days. However, it is not unusual for a correctly priced home in good condition to sell within a week or two.

The supply inventory of unsold homes is higher than buyer demand. The result is "the buyer is king."

To successfully negotiate a home purchase in the current buyer's market in most cities, here are the five top negotiation tips for today's home buyers:

1. DISCOVER WHY THE SELLER IS SELLING. Having bought and sold many houses, I've learned it's critical for smart buyers to know the seller's true motivation for selling. If the seller asks, "Why do you want to know why I'm selling?" the best answer is "Because I want to make you a purchase offer that will meet your needs."

In other words, negotiate with sellers who really want to sell. Signals of serious motivation to sell include job transfer, unemployment, pending foreclosure, divorce, birth or death in the family, financial problems, purchase of another home, and retirement.

Although home listing agents and buyer agents usually try to keep the buyer and seller from meeting each other, whenever possible it is to the buyer's advantage to meet the seller before making a purchase offer.

A good question for a buyer to ask the seller (and/or the neighbors) is, "What do you like best and least about this home?" Then keep quiet and let the other party talk. Listen carefully to discover if that home is right or wrong for you.

When a seller has the attitude, "If I can get my price, I'll sell; if not, I won't sell," it's usually a waste of the buyer's and agent's time to negotiate with that seller unless the asking price is very reasonable.

However, just to be sure, if you want to buy a particular house, make a realistic written purchase offer anyway and see what happens. Some sellers act like they don't really care, but they do. When the seller makes a counteroffer (as all sellers should do in today's slow buyer's market), that indicates at least some sales motivation.

2. FIND OUT THE SELLER'S PURCHASE PRICE. But before making a purchase offer, savvy buyers ask how much the seller paid for the home and when it was purchased. If it was bought last year at the top of the market, there is probably zero room for negotiation unless the seller has a very high motivation to sell.

However, if the home was bought more than 10 years ago, there is probably lots of seller equity with which to negotiate.

If the purchase price can't be determined from the public records, and the seller refuses to tell you their purchase price, an experienced real estate agent can usually make a reasonably accurate estimate based on the purchase date. For this reason, it is important for home buyers to always work with a buyer's agent who knows the community.

3. FIND OUT THE SELLER'S DEADLINE TO SELL. When a seller is motivated by a deadline, such as a job transfer date or the scheduled closing date on another home, such a deadline can be powerful motivator.

In addition, buyers should inquire of their buyer's agent when the listing expires. If the listing expires in the next few weeks, the listing agent will usually be extremely cooperative and motivated to get the home sold fast.

However, if the seller has no specific deadline to sell, negotiation with that unmotivated seller can be very difficult.

4. ASK WHAT INSPECTIONS THE SELLER HAS COMPLETED. The best listing agents suggest their sellers, before officially listing the home in the local MLS (multiple listing service), have the customary local inspections completed.

There are two primary advantages of pre-listing inspections for sellers: (a) unexpected problems, such as a leaky roof or termite damage, can be repaired by the seller, and (b) costly surprises are avoided for sellers when the buyer's inspections must reveal unexpected serious damage.

Based on the inspections, the seller can then provide a written disclosure report listing any defects of which the seller is aware but the seller has not had repaired.

Depending on local custom and statutes, pre-listing inspections might include pest control (termite), radon, energy efficiency, building-code compliance, and a professional home inspection. It is very impressive for buyers to be shown the customary inspection reports revealing a home without major problems.

Some buyers will accept the seller's reports without hiring their own inspectors. However, the smartest buyers include a contingency clause in their purchase offer making the offer contingent on the their approval of their own inspectors' reports.

After the buyer's purchase offer is accepted by the seller, if the buyer's inspections reveal undisclosed defects, the buyer then can (a) disapprove the reports and obtain a full refund of the good faith deposit, (b) re-open negotiations on price and terms, or (c) ask for repair credits as part of the closing settlement.

5. BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE OFFER, ASK YOUR BUYER'S AGENT TO PREPARE A COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS (CMA). The most important reason home buyers need their own buyer's agent is, before a purchase offer is made, the buyer's agent should prepare a CMA.

This CMA form shows (a) recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes, (b) asking prices of similar neighborhood homes currently listed for sale, and (c) even asking prices of recently expired competitive listings (usually overpriced).

Using the pros and cons of each home shown on the CMA, with the agent's help the buyer can then arrive at a fair purchase offer price. The buyer's agent will then show that CMA to the seller when the buyer's purchase offer is presented.

Although the seller's agent probably prepared a CMA for the seller at the time of listing, the local home sales market might have shifted in the several months since then so the buyer's up-to-date CMA is a very important negotiation tool. It shows why the buyer's purchase offer is reasonable and should be accepted (or at least counteroffered) by the seller.

SUMMARY: By following the five negotiation tips above, smart home buyers can take advantage of the current buyer's market in most cities. Although it's a great time to be a home buyer, to avoid overpaying or buying the wrong home, savvy buyers who implement these five buyer tips will be on their way to a wise home purchase.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center).

For additional information, please contact:

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

Monday, December 11, 2006

Overpricing a home could lead to no sale

Sellers need to stay on top of rapidly changing markets
Monday, December 11, 2006
By Dian HymerInman News

Overpriced home listings usually don't sell in any market. In today's market, there's no margin for error when selecting a list price. If your price is too high, the market can literally pass you by.

Many sellers ask: What's the harm in pricing high initially? You can always come down. While this is true enough, you may end up with a lower selling price if you start too high to begin with, particularly if the market is declining.

Today's real estate market is generally balanced, although there have been modest declines in median sales price in some areas. Prices are still going up in areas with low inventory and high demand, but the appreciation rate in these areas is slower than it has been in recent years.

Given today's market conditions, buyers are more cautious about home purchases than they were last year. They are looking for value. A high price sends a message that you are out of touch with the market. Making an offer takes a lot of time and energy. Most buyers aren't willing to do this if they think that the seller is unreasonable.

Another factor that can keep buyers from making offers on overpriced listings is that they don't want to offend the sellers. Buyers feel that a low offer might jeopardize their chances of buying the property. They'd rather wait to see if the sellers lower their price before making an offer.

There is more emotion involved in a home purchase than in most other business negotiations. Home buyers usually need to feel passionate about a property before they'll make an offer.

Today's buyers are concerned about overpaying in a soft market. It's hard for them be enthusiastic enough to make an offer if a listing is priced too high. A listing that might look great to them at the right price might not even be appealing at an above-market price.

So, one risk of overpricing is that you don't receive any offers at all. Another related risk is that your home might not even be shown to buyers if it's priced too high. There usually is a direct correlation between the amount of showings a listing receives and the time it takes to sell.

HOME SELLER TIP: Sellers who live in areas where prices are declining need to be particularly careful not to overprice their homes. Before your home goes on the market, ask your agent to update the market evaluation of your home that was done before you listed to make sure that the recommended price range still holds. If not, readjust the price before you hit the market. Your home is most marketable when it's new on the market. So capitalize on this enthusiasm by presenting a good product at the right price.

Since the market is always changing, you may find that your list price could be too high soon after your home is on the market. Many sellers object to lowering their price too quickly.

They're afraid they'll leave money on the table.

However, the best time to lower your price is as soon as you discover that the price is high. This way you quickly rekindle interest in your property. Leaving your home on the market too long at a high price can cost you money if prices decline.

After your home is on the market, keep an eye on your competition. Ask your agent to keep you informed about listing activity in your area. Find out which listings are selling and which aren't.

How does your home stack up in comparison?

THE CLOSING: Pricing lower than your competitors can often bring about the desired result.

For further inofrmation on properly pricing your home, please call:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty



Thursday, December 07, 2006


If you've owned your home for awhile, you've probably enjoyed increased equity and appreciation. So the idea of making money when you sell is familiar. The idea of saving money probably isn't.

It's simple math. Most brokers charge a sales commission; so on a home that sells for $200,000, a 6% commission* is $12,000. On a $500,000 sale, it is $30,000.
At Help-U-Sell® Real Estate, our licensed brokers offer the same real estate services but, instead of a commission, we work for a low, set fee. As a result, our clients can save thousands of dollars.

How Do We Do That?

Two important reasons that allow us to pass along savings to you:

1.Our neighborhood offices located around the country are owned and operated by experienced licensed brokers with a staff of salaried professionals, instead of commissioned agents.

2.Because our marketing system works so well, a broker and his or her staff can use their time more productively and manage more transactions efficiently and professionally with less overhead.

Looking for a New Home?

Help-U-Sell® listings are a good place to start. When a seller doesn't have to account for a commission in their sales price, they are more open to competitive pricing. Through Help-U-Sell® Real Estate, you also have access to For Sale by Owner homes which are typically priced lower. And that creates savings opportunities for you.

List Your Home "For Sale With Owner" and Save!

Get all the professional services you need - and savings -- from a licensed real estate broker. Your expert next door!

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

(614) 447-3050

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Does Anyone Ever Over-Plan a Move?

Most closings take 30 or more days. Decide if that will give you and your family enough time to focus on the task of moving. It's better to start too soon than too late.

1. Make a Checklist. Itemize all the steps leading up to your move. Make assignments to family members and put the list where everyone can see it and check off their accomplishments!

2. Maintain Your Property. Before you can receive the proceeds from the sale, your home must past the buyer's final walk-through. Be sure to leave the house "broom clean" and the yard in the agreed-to condition. Otherwise, you will be spending your time weeding when you should be packing.

3. Have a Yard Sale. Many people pack up things they don't want because they ran out of time to sort through closets, drawers, sheds and garages. Take it a room at a time. Set aside an area for sale items. And schedule your sale at least one month before your move date.

4. Get Relocation Assistance. If you need to more information about the schools, neighborhoods, or services where you're moving, you can rely on one of our Help-U-Sell® offices to get it for you. Just ask.

5. Move Before You Close. You don't need to wait until your actual close date to move. If you schedule your move a few days early, you won't feel rushed at the end.

Looking for Immediate Help?

The Help-U-Sell® Rewards Program provides a gateway to name brand moving services at a discount. Find out about trucks, moving companies and special credit card savings.

Get all the professional services you need - and savings -- from a licensed real estate broker. Your expert next door!

Vito Boscaino


Putting Your Money Where it Counts . . .

If you're thinking about selling, it's easy to add up all the things you were going to fix and never did. But now isn't the time. Instead look at your house as an investment. Here are 10 ways to improve your return on investment (ROI):

1.Repair, replace and repaint only what you need to.

2.Catch up on deferred maintenance and put the basics in good working order.

3.Patch and paint any cracks or other damage to exterior and interior surfaces.

4.Make sure doors and windows operate smoothly and replace broken glass.

5.Make sure all electrical fixtures work like lighting and ceiling fans.

6.Fix plumbing leaks and faucet drips.

7.Check toilets to make sure they flush properly.

8.Some construction projects offer a better ROI than others, like kitchen and bath remodels or adding a new deck. But resist the temptation to finish building your "dream home."

For more specific ideas for your home, contact a Help-U-Sell® broker today.

Looking for a New Home?

Trying to find the "perfect" home is fun but also challenging. That's why we offer so many ways for you to search our database of more than 1,100,000 homes for sale. You can search 24/7 on our website. Or you can fill out a Buyer's Profile document and your neighborhood Help-U-Sell® office will get to work searching for you.

Get all the professional services you need - and savings -- from a licensed real estate broker. Your expert next door!

Vito Boscaino (614) 447-3050

Is this the right time to Sell?

With so much recent real estate activity, home owners across the country are asking the same question. Asking the question is easy. Answering it is harder. But one of the key deciding factors is whether your home has appreciated or increased enough in value to justify selling.

Finding the Market Value of Your Home

Instant Online Comps The easiest way to find out your home's value is to use the Home Value Search tool on our website. Just enter your home address and, in seconds, you'll receive data on three recent home sales near you - free.

Complete Market Comps Your Help-U-Sell broker can prepare a more detailed comparison of recent sales in your area. This, along with his or her analysis and recommendations, should be adequate to helping you decide whether the time is right to sell.

Full Property Appraisal You can contract a professional appraiser to evaluate your home against recent sales in the neighborhood. This is the most accurate way to determine your home's worth. And it may be the only way, especially if your home is greatly different in size or amenities from the homes around it. Your local Help-U-Sell® office can help you find an appraiser.

Looking for a New Home?

If you expect the proceeds from your sale to be substantial, it's more important than ever to have a Real Estate Plan and clear objectives. Do you want or need a larger home? Would you rather use those funds for college tuition? Are you looking to invest? Your Help-U-Sell broker can help you decide your priorities and goals. We're glad to help. Just ask us!

Vito Boscaino


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

October - Residential Home Sales Activity

Trendsetters in the Real Estate Market


Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty of Columbus
(614) 447-3050

Trendsetters in the Real Estate Market
Help-U-Sell North High Realty in Columbus gives insight on the latest trends in the industry

Columbus, OH (Grassroots Newswire) November 28, 2006 -- When putting your property on the market, it is important to stay abreast of real estate trends that are taking place in the country, according to Vito Boscaino of Help-U-Sell North High Realty of Columbus the country’s leading fee-for-service real estate company. He offers several current trendsetters that property owners should keep in mind when trying to sell a house.

“First of all, the homebuyers of the 21st century are setting new standards for the way Realtors do business,” said Boscaino. “Young Americans that make up Generations X and Y are purchasing homes in ways that would never be dreamed of 50, even 20, years ago.”

Recent studies from the U.S. Census and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that Generation X and Y households account for 55 percent of all home purchases. And, about 64 percent of them intend on buying a home in the next two years.

These homebuyers are the fastest trendsetters, having a desire for greater space and more sophisticated amenities such as automated lighting controls, built-in security systems, pools, home offices, libraries, gyms, sound systems and even home theaters. Other studies indicate that they prefer a four or more bedroom home and want a home 50 percent larger than their current residence.

“Bigger and better seems to be their motto -- and, this is good news for consumers,” Boscaino said. “As these homebuyers enter the real estate market as first-time buyers, they will look for homes in the higher price ranges. That will be a vital factor in keeping markets strong around the country.”

On the same note, second-time homebuyers, mostly the baby boomers, are also setting trends in the industry. Baby boomers have a higher rate of homeownership than the national average; one out of four own more than one property. From the very wealthy to the ranks of the economically comfortable, there are 44 million second homes in the country. Baby boomers, who are in peak earning years, are at an age that vacation homes may also double as retirement homes in the future.

Baby boomers are spending more money to have more free time and enjoy a better quality of life. And, they are propelling the second-home market beyond worries of market slow-downs.

A recent NAR survey says 35 percent of investment property owners plan to buy one or more properties in the next two years and one in ten vacation homeowners plan to sell a vacation home in the next two years.

Realtors today have to watch many homeowner statistics to stay on top of their market and one last trend that is gaining in importance is the rise in minority homeownership, particularly Hispanic and Asian homeowners. Many Realtors are now hiring agents who are fluent in multiple languages to meet the needs of their newest and fastest growing customer base.

Recent real estate data shows that the Hispanic and Asian populations have doubled in the past 10 years and tripled since 1970.

“They are changing the face of the American homeowner,” Boscaino said. “Upwardly mobile, entrepreneurial, focused on family, education and faith -- they are the new American homeowners living the American dream.”

For more information, please contact Vito Boscaino at (614) 447-3050.

About Help-U-Sell
Help-U-Sell Real Estate is the country’s leading provider of fee-based brokerage services in the real estate market. Help-U-Sell provides consumers access to information and choice, and offers a set-fee alternative to paying the traditional commission. Help-U-Sell differs from traditional brokers, not in the level of services provided by its licensed brokers throughout the country, but in the dollar amount that the consumer pays for those services. With approximately 1,000 offices throughout the United States, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Help-U-Sell Real Estate as the fastest growing real estate franchise for 2005. For the sixth consecutive year, the company was ranked in the Top 50 across all industries in the magazine’s 26th Annual Franchise 500. For more information, please visit

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mortgage Rates forecast to remain stable. . . .

Near future perspective on interest rates looks very stable for the next two years. This is great news for Buyers as current rates are still very low by historical standards. As well, Sellers should benefit as Buyers will have minimal incentive to "wait" for lower rates, thereby postponing purchase activities, instead they should be motivated to move more quickly to take advantage of the current high inventory levels, which has caused prices to soften. Net/net the picture looks reasonably bright, assuming there are no negative "shocks" to the economy.

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

Fixed mortgage rates should stay grounded
Good news for those with looming resets: 30-year loan at 6.7% in 2007

MarketWatch Last Update: 6:59 PM ET Oct 24, 2006

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Those who anticipate getting a mortgage or refinancing one anytime soon listen up: Fixed mortgage rates aren't expected to spike dramatically in the next few years, according to a forecast released Tuesday.
Fixed-rate mortgages should remain at about 6.3% to 6.4% through the rest of the year, according to the most recent Mortgage Bankers Association forecast. Rates are expected to rise to about 6.7% by the end of 2007 and to about 6.8% by the end of 2008.

"We expect long-term rates to remain low this year, helping to cushion the slowing in residential housing activity that has been underway for more than a year," said Doug Duncan, MBA chief economist. Interest rates are expected to stay "quite low by historical standards," he said. The group released the forecast at its annual convention in Chicago.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Duncan also estimated that between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion in adjustable-rate mortgages will be eligible for reset in 2007.

The MBA predicts that $600 billion to $700 billion of those loans will be refinanced and between $500 billion and $800 billion will actually reset with new interest rates. Economists are concerned about the impact that added mortgage spending will have on consumer behavior and economic growth. So the lower mortgage rates stay, the better off consumers will be as they face those higher payments.

The MBA forecast also painted a picture of a "normalizing" home market.
Existing-home sales should decrease by 9% in 2006 and go down another 8% in 2007, Duncan said. The number of new-home sales should decrease by 18% and also decline another 8% in 2007.

But after that, the decline is expected to reverse: The number of new- and existing-home sales should increase modestly in 2008, the forecast showed.

Median price gains in existing homes are estimated to reach 2.5% in 2006, while median new-home price gains are expected to be about 1%, according to the MBA, down sharply from their recent double-digit pace. Appreciation rates should be similar in 2007 and could even strengthen in 2008.

Big picture
MBA statistics and estimates regarding the mortgage industry also showed evidence of a softening housing market.
Residential mortgage production is forecast to reach $2.46 trillion in 2006, down 19% from an estimated $3.03 trillion in 2005, but still the fifth-highest level on record.

Next year, mortgage production is expected to slip a little more, down to $2.12 trillion, according to the forecast. In 2008, mortgage production should hold at the same level.

Regarding the national economy, the group predicts that economic growth will continue to slow through the rest of 2006 but should return to near normal in 2007 and 2008. Real GDP growth will average about 3.1% in 2006; it should average about 3.0% in 2007 and 3.2% in 2008, the MBA said.

"Despite sluggish growth, largely due to declining residential investment and auto production in the second half of this year, we are optimistic about a rebound in 2007," Duncan said. "Long-term interest rates have remained low in the face of rising short-term rates, equity prices have risen nearly 20%, capital expenditures remain strong, the trade sector has turned from a big drag on growth to a modest stimulus, and energy prices have dropped sharply."

The MBA expects that the Federal Reserve will keep the Fed funds rate steady at 5.25% through 2008, Duncan said.

"Although we expect core inflation to moderate going forward, we believe that the currently elevated rate will keep the Fed from lowering interest rates despite signs of slowing economic activity," he said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Something new for Client questions...

In the interest of trying our best to facilitate communications with our clients, we have recently added a "Chat" link on our homepage. Now once clients arrive at our homepage they can chat directly with our office during normal office hours. Check this out and let us know what you think.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Help-U-Sell, A great way to sell and buy real estate

How does Help-U-Sell work?

Help-U-Sell offers you choices! You choose the marketing you need and how involved you want to be in the sales process. If you show your home and you sell your home, you SAVE! You only pay a low Help-U-Sell set fee, saving you thousands. Don’t have time to show your home? If WE show and sell your home, you only pay the low Help-U-Sell set fee plus a low showing fee to the Help-U-Sell real estate professional that sells your home. Want maximum exposure? List your home in the realtor Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for your area and let other real estate professionals show your home. If they sell your home, you pay a low Help-U-Sell set fee and you pay the real estate professional that brings the buyer the fee you agreed to and quoted in the MLS listing. You will still SAVE thousands.

In Help-U-Sell we refer to this as
You sell!
We sell!
They sell!
But no matter who sells, you SAVE!

Why does Help-U-Sell work?

Help-U-Sell works because a steadily increasing number of buyers are using the Internet to search for a home before they ever even consider speaking with a real estate agent. In fact, tens of thousands of buyers visit our websites each month. Buyers see Help-U-Sell homes as attractive because they recognize that they have the option of dealing direct with Seller without being separated by real estate agents. Most importantly, if you choose, then Help-U-Sell’s licensed consulting team will help you and the buyer fill out all the forms that are required by the state. In addition, they will help with all offers and any information that the lenders and escrow/settlement company will need. As a seller, it is important to know that you can have professional help throughout the entire process.

Are Help-U-Sell agents licensed?

Yes. All Help-U-Sell agents are licensed and members of their local MLS boards.

What advantages does Help-U-Sell offer as compared to a traditional Realtor®?

Help-U-Sell offers two advantages over traditional real estate companies:

1) Choices! We let you choose exactly how much you want to participate in the sale of your home and exactly what services you need assistance with. Your fee is based upon how many services your Help-U-Sell Real Estate Consultant provides. If you participate in the sale of your home and procure the buyer by either showing your home yourself or through and open house you hold, the cost to sell your home will be 45% - 95% less than a traditional listing agent .

2) Help-U-Sell’s proprietary technology allows you to obtain up-to-date information about your home sale quicker and more efficiently than a traditional listing agent. In fact, with our technology, you can be anywhere in the world and learn about the latest activity on your home.

What is Help-U-Sell’s success rate as compared to a traditional Realtor®?

Help-U-Sell’s sellers enjoy a nearly 72% success rate. This compared to an average of 63% for the traditional system (National Association of Realtor® statistics). Help-U-Sell has a slightly better success rate due to our sellers having more flexibility to negotiate the purchase price since outrageous listing commissions are not part of the equation.
If I am going to show the home and do the open houses, why do I need Help-U-Sell?The #1 reason sellers use Help-U-Sell is for our Expertise. We counsel you on pricing your home, marketing your home, and most important, managing your transaction through closing to make sure that all of the paperwork is done correctly and that all required legal documents are included. In addition:

We guarantee in writing to advertise your property every week.
We use our exclusive marketing system to get you buyers.
We send an ad on your property to potential buyers now looking for property.
We list your home on the Internet at
We lend you "For Sale" and "Open House" signs.
We discuss the "Bad" and the "Good" in all offers and negotiate to get you the best possible price.
We pre-qualify your buyer and help them obtain financing (Many times there are 7 or 8 methods). We go through your closing costs and leave you with an estimate of your net proceeds.
We help you avoid problems, assist you should any arise and work to save you money in all the hidden parts of the transaction.
We coordinate for you with the engineers, appraisers, inspectors and other professionals.
We handle all negotiations, paperwork, contracts, any counterproposals, manage your transaction through the closing and attend the closing.

What if I sell my home myself?

If you sell your home without a cooperating Broker, no commission is due. The only fee is the Help-U-Sell flat fee which is collected at closing.

If another agent contacts me directly to show my home, do I have to give them a coop if they write a contact?

If your property IS NOT listed in the MLS, the answer is technically, no. In reality, if an agent from a real estate firm other than a Help-U-Sell office wants to show your home because it is just perfect for their client, they will generally contact you first to find out if you are willing to offer a coop. At that point you will direct them to contact your Help-U-Sell Real Estate Consultant who will work out an agreement between you and the other agent that will define just how much they will earn as their commission. If your home IS listed in the MLS, then you are legally bound to pay the real estate professional that procures a buyer for your property the amount of coop defined in the MLS entry.

May a buyer contact me directly after a Realtor shows my home to them?

Yes. However, you will still be obligated to pay a selling commission to the Realtor who showed the home.

How does Help-U-Sell help me with the paperwork and legal steps?

Help-U-Sell’s licensed consulting team will help you execute your transaction through closing. Once you find a buyer (either directly or through a buyer’s agent), simply call Help-U-Sell and one of our licensed real estate consultants will assist you with the creation of the purchase agreement and steps to closing. If your home is listed on the MLS, and you receive an offer from a buyer’s broker or one of our Realtors, then Help-U-Sell will facilitate the transaction thru to closing.

How much commission do I have to pay?

Unlike most real estate professionals, Help-U-Sell does not charge a commission to list your home – we are leading the trend within the real estate industry to charge a ‘Fee for Services” provided. You decide how much you want to participate in the sale of your home and what services you would like your Help-U-Sell real estate professional to provide and your fee – due at closing – is set.

Are you a “discount” broker?

No. What makes Help-U-Sell different is that we are a “fee for service” company. We have determined a very competitive fee for each component of a real estate transaction and we offer that to the public in a “no haggle” environment. Unlike traditional real estate, you don’t have to argue and bicker with us to get a super competitive rate!
We don’t attempt to make a fortune from each family we deal with; we just deal with LOTS of families.

What is “fee for service” or “a la carte services?

”Most real estate professionals refer to their service as “full service.” This means that they do everything it takes to sell your home – place it in the MLS, advertise it in the local paper and home magazines, provide a flyer, do open houses, show your home to potential buyers, handle the negotiations when you receive an offer and handle everything through closing. “Fee for service” is where the full service package is separated into any number of component parts and combinations. In this arrangement, different services cost different fees, and these fees are usually not contingent upon an actual close of escrow. This arrangement is suited for today’s more “e-savvy” sellers and “For Sale With Owners” who want assistance with select parts of the process of selling their home, without having to pay traditional real estate’s higher full-cost fee.

For instance, for the real estate professional, the two most costly and time consuming services in a sale of your home are the open houses and showings. The standard Help-U-Sell fee does not include these services. You can show your own home and SAVE! Should you need occasional help showing your home, we are still available for a low fee should we write a contract for the buyers. But the key is now you have the option to decide whether you need this service.

If you are moving to another city and cannot participate in the process, no problem! We have a fee structure that will provide you “full service” to meet your needs.

What is “full service?

”Most real estate professionals refer to their service as “full service.” This means that the do everything it takes to you’re your home – place it in the MLS, advertise it in the local paper and home magazines, provider a flyer, do open houses, show your home to potential buyers, handle the negotiations when you receive an offer, and handle everything through closing.

The question really should be, “What is full cost service?”

Sadly, some brokers (regardless of company) list homes and then just put them in the MLS and wait for a contract to come in with no service provided beyond that. Many times after these listings expire, we end up interviewing with these unhappy sellers. We explain carefully to them what we do and what we don’t do -- the most common response – “Yeah, so?– I was paying 6 to 7% and didn’t get that much! We offer you a menu of services that lets you choose as much or as little service as you desire! AND we back it up in writing by making the specifics of the service and the marketing we are obligated to provide part of the listing agreement!

How can Help-U-Sell charge such low fees for its services?

Years of experience have allowed us to streamline the process of selling a home and has allowed us to identify how much time each service within the sale takes. This has allowed us to create low fees based upon the amount of time our real estate professionals will have to dedicate to the sale of your home. For instance, in most areas, higher priced homes take longer to sell. Therefore our fee will be higher for a higher priced home to compensate for the additional time we will have to invest and additional marketing we will have to provide.

If your business model is so beneficial to clients and you alike, why aren’t other brokers doing it?

As with any industry, change is slow. Traditional real estate brokerage is pretty entrenched, and very conservative. It is also very slow moving. But the Internet has really shaken things up, and changes are starting to appear. Large national chains are even starting to tinker with the traditional model (Coldwell Banker is test marketing a limited “fee-for-service” program in one city and Century 21 in another), and there have been several Internet start-ups taking a stab at simple discount brokerage. We expect that the rate of change within the industry will increase, bringing new choices to consumers. But where the traditional industry is seeking to “jump on the bandwagon,” Help-U-Sell is proud of doing “fee for service” BEFORE it was fashionable, since 1976!

Are there any hidden fees that I don’t know about?

No. Help-U-Sell identifies all fees up front.

Do you also represent buyers?

Yes. Many of our sellers were once buyer clients, and of course, many of our sellers also want to buy again. We also have buyer brokers who specialize in working with buyers. For those buyers that are willing to partner with us in the search for their home we have special incentives.

What happens if a buyer calls Help-U-Sell directly to request to see my home?

The Help-U-Sell office will first check their showing instructions to see if you have given them permission to show your home. They will then make every effort to contact you and let you show your home. In the event that the buyer is impatient and you cannot be reached within a reasonable amount of time, a Help-U-Sell real estate professional will make arrangements to show your home.

What happens if a real estate agent calls Help-U-Sell directly?

First, we will determine what Help-U-Sell program you have selected. If you have signed up for the MLS Service, then we will schedule the showing. If you have selected the Help-U-Sell Exclusive Listing For-Sale-With-Owner program, we will consult our showing instructions. If you have indicated that you do not want to let other agents show your home, then we will inform them of your decision. Otherwise, we will contact you and make arrangements for the showing.

What happens when I receive an offer?

Help-U-Sell will write the contract and handle the transaction thru to Closing. Contact us immediately so that we can prepare the paperwork and get the process rolling.

If Help-U-Sell brings me a buyer and sells my home, then will I owe a commission to them for bringing the buyer?

If a Help-U-Sell broker brings a qualified buyer to you and they purchase your home, we are entitled to the buyers' agent's commission for selling your home since we are acting as the buyers' broker. When you sign your listing agreement with Help-U-Sell, we will define exactly what this fee will be. We always put everything in writing so you have no unanswered questions.

We work all day. How can we show our property?

Fortunately, the people buying homes also work all day so most people can only preview a home in the evenings or on the weekend. Generally, scheduling the buyer to meet with you is not an issue. However, in the event that the buyer can’t wait, you can choose to let us show your home for a low showing fee payable at closing should the buyer purchase your home.

Am I locked into a 6-month listing contract with Help-U-Sell?

This totally depends upon the agreement you make with your Help-U-Sell Real Estate Consultant. It totally depends upon the area you live in and the office policy.

So why do so many people still list with 6% charging agents?

It is a most puzzling question for us, and probably has several answers. First, we think many sellers don’t realize that commissions are negotiable. The big real estate companies spend a lot of effort training their agents to push the service-side perception of their offering and avoid the issue of fees. To defend their traditional pricing structure, many agents will argue that “if you pay less, you will get less.” It's all a smokescreen, of course. There is no shortage of unhappy sellers who paid 6%.

Loyalty is another reason. When sellers prepare to sell their home, they first think of the agent that sold them their home. Because of their past relationship, they often find it difficult to “arm wrestle” commissions when they didn’t have to as a buyer. At Help-U-Sell we definitely cherish the same long-term relationship with our past clients; however, we still work towards having sellers take a closer look at choices that can save them thousands of dollars.

What are open houses? Are they necessary?

Open Houses are typically conducted on Saturdays and/or Sundays. The idea is to let the buyers preview your home in a no pressure, non-scheduled manner. Many Help-U-Sell sellers have great success with open houses. As to whether they are necessary or not, the answer is yes. Just like location, location, location is important, so is exposure, exposure, exposure. The best sales reps for your home are your neighbors and others visiting you home. The more people that see your home, the more you increase the odds of finding a buyer.

What is MLS?

MLS® (Multiple Listing Service) is the most comprehensive computerized database of homes for sale with over 1.5 million listings nationwide. This database is used by Realtors to market and promote their own listings and to cooperate with other Realtors. Realtors, in turn, are compensated with part of the commission. A large portion of real estate transactions are a result of direct MLS exposure. By having your home in MLS, it will be exposed to thousands of local real estate agents who otherwise would not have known that your property was for sale and would not have shown it. This is the same MLS used by a traditional broker who would charge you a full cost listing commission.

Do I have to list my home in the MLS and thereby offer a coop commission?

No. That is totally up to you and often dependent upon your marketplace. If homes in your area are moving fast, then you will probably want to at least start without the MLS so you have an opportunity to sell your home yourself and save. However, if you are in an area taking 45 or more days to sell the average home, then you will probably want to list your home in the MLS to increase your exposure. As they say, time is money and exposure is critical.

What is

REALTOR.COM is a leading Internet site where buyers can search for homes. Technically, it is the official Internet site for the National Association of Realtors.'s 1.4 million home listings are provided by participating REALTOR Multiple Listing Services. This is one of the advantages of listing your home on the MLS - your home will then be copied to the web site and will be accessible to individuals and Realtors via the Internet. This includes color pictures, tours and all pertinent information (price, location, square footage, contact information, etc.)

Can I start out trying to sell my home as a Help-U-Sell Exclusive Listing first, then add the MLS later?


Won’t buyer’s agents boycott my listing?

No. Buyer brokers are indifferent as long as they are being paid their due. Our listings have been sold by nearly every major real estate company and we have a long history of excellent relationships with our colleagues. Furthermore, it's not likely that there will be another house just like yours (same price, size, condition, location, etc.) on the market at the same time as yours with a higher listing commission BUT with the same co-op commission.
Will a yard sign be provided? Yes, a distinctive Help-U-Sell yard sign will be provided, if unrestricted by Community Association rules.

How do other Realtors show my home?

Other Realtors will schedule a showing using the instructions in the MLS. Nothing will be different for them.

Will my listing look the same as those who have agreed to pay a full listing commission to a traditional agent?

Yes. Your listing is a “Full Service” listing from the viewpoint of the MLS service because you are getting full service for the services you have selected.

How long before my home will be on the MLS and

Your home will be on the MLS and within 24 hours of receipt and acceptance of the listing agreement and the other forms provided to you. They will be transferred to when the local MLS service sends them data, which in many cases is once a week around Wednesday.

How do I list my Home with Help-U-Sell?

Just contact your local Help-U-Sell office via phone or this web site.

How should I price my home?

We will provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis that will provide you with information regarding the price range of similar home sales in your area so that you can choose a price you feel is appropriate for your home.
Changes in Your Family May Prompt Your Next Move... Today's extended family has special housing needs. If your family is growing, find out what you should be looking for in your next home.

For More Information:

Vito Boscaino, Owner / Realtor / MBA
Sheila Dawson, Realtor

Help-U-Sell North High Realty

4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Telephone: 614.447.3050

Please contact us for more information.