Category Archives: Daniel Desmond

To Stage of Not to Stage?







Dan Desmond

Should I stage my home?  I hear that question every month and my answer is “Yes, stage your home but don’t overdo it.    When you think of it, vacuuming the rugs and putting toys away are basic staging.  Getting rid of clutter and packing away items that you won’t be using until after the move is also staging.  And so is painting, especially rooms with nontraditional colors.  Those are all tasks that sellers can do themselves at little to no cost.

Model homes are beautifully staged  with lots of “extras” but have a professional sales staff to sell the upgrades.  Resale homes that are vacant are candidates for some sprucing up so they won’t appear cold. And if time is not on your side professional staging MAY help the home sell faster but not necessarily bring a higher price.

But what about hiring a professional staging company for a whole redecorating?  Now this is grey area and only worth while if you are sure the money spent can be recouped.  Remember that you won’t be taking the “staged” items with you and most importantly the buyers mortgage company will order an appraisal and the appraiser will give little or no value to those items.

What it comes down to is making the home most appealing but at market price.  Plan your move wisely.

Dan Desmond, Help-U-Sell, 206 Main Street, Forked River, NJ 08731;








There is a little controversy right now about the concept of a ‘Pocket Listing.’  There have been a number of recent news and opinion pieces, mostly from Realtor groups, condemning the practice of keeping a salable listing out of MLS. (Multiple Listing Service)   Before I tell you what I think, let’s examine the Realtor point-of-view.

Since the advent of the MLS, the residential real estate business has operated on a cooperative basis.  Because most MLSs require that every home listed by a member broker be offered for sale through the MLS (unless the sellers signs an op-out waiver), every Realtor has an opportunity to sell any property listed with a competitor and earn a portion of the commission.

This is marketed as being in the best interest of the seller because it maximizes the opportunities for exposure of the home, getting it in front of more and more potential buyers through their individual agents. And after all, whether another Realtor comes in with the buyer or the listing agent finds the buyer him or herself, the cost to the seller will be the same; it won’t cost any more.

And that’s where the problem lies.

In general, when a seller lists with an ordinary broker, s/he agrees to pay a percentage based commission.  The actual percent varies, but will often be in the 5% – 7% range.  Consider something right in the middle, say, 6% on a $500,000 home. That’s a $30,000 commission!  Huge, right!?  But one of the reasons it is so high is the listing office has to be prepared for the likely event that an outside broker and agent will bring the buyer – and they’ll have to be paid half of that commission.  Of course, if there is no outside broker, if the listing brokers finds the buyer his or herself, the seller still pays $30,000 because . . . well because that’s just the way it’s done!

At Help-U-Sell Bay Beach Realty, we don’t charge a percentage based commission, we charge a Low Set Fee.  AND we unbundle commissions.  If there is no outside broker involved, you don’t pay one.  Now that’s a real benefit to a seller, one you can put a dollar sign on!

There are situations – locations and marketplaces – where we recommend most sellers go into the MLS.  These are the situations where we need all the exposure we can get.  But in a good location, with a properly priced house, sometimes it makes sense to stay out of the MLS – especially if that means saving the seller a lot of money.

Right now, in various locations around Central Jersey homes are selling in 60 days or less and sellers are getting 99% of their Listing Price in a Sale.  Clearly demand is high.  In a market like this it might make sense to market the home for a time – say, 30 – 45 days without the MLS, without offering it for sale through outside brokers.  If a buyer can be found without the MLS, the seller of the $500,000 home mentioned above would a TON!

At Help-U-Sell Bay Beach Realty, we are about two things:

  • Getting your house sold for top dollar
  • Saving you the most money in commission expense

We will consult with your at the time of listing and continuously thereafter about how best to market the home, whether the MLS makes sense or not, and how to maximize your savings while selling for the greatest possible price.


Dan Desmond, Help-U-Sell, 206 Main Street, Forked River, NJ 08731;

Why I Share 20% Of My Commissions to (most) Buyers and Why It Makes Sense

When the New Jersey Real Estate Commission  authorized the “rebate” of commissions, as many other states do, I immediately recognized what a great bonus it is to home buyers — and to savvy brokers.

Although they will swear otherwise, brokers and agents do less for their huge commissions than they did in the past.  This is because most consumers begin their search on the internet and most of the information they need such as taxes, schools and home characteristics  are right there for them.  In an astounding number of cases buyers contact a broker about a property AFTER they have done most of the leg work.  Well, if consumers are doing a lot of the work, shouldn’t they be compensated?  I think so although most brokers do not allow their agents to rebate saying it’s a sign of weakness.  I think it’s a sign of consumerism!  You know the old saying “Time is Money” –  so if a buyer is saving me time it’s only right that they be paid.  That’s consumerism!
Now, I don’t just gift away 20% of my compensation.  Buyers have to EARN it. and here is how and why they can IF THEY CHOOSE.
1.)  They must be pre-approved by a reputable lender BEFORE looking at houses
2.)  They must come into the office for a consultation on the process.   Most buyers have no idea what is happening as they view houses or write out an earnest money deposit and are unaware of the many protections a sales contract gives them, the mortgage process, etc.  At the end of this consultation they have a tremendous understanding of the how and why of what they are doing.  And they feel much more comfortable and confidant.
3.)  They must  register for the Help-U-Sell “First to Know” program which alerts them as homes come on the market or are reduced into their range.  Buyers LOVE this.

4.)  They must have some knowledge of the area and know what town they desire, what type of home and we also develop a “Must Have, Would Like to Have, and Can Not Have” list.  This is usually developed during the office consultation and winds up saving everyone a lot of time.
5.)  They must drive by the property before a showing.  Many houses look great in pictures but what about the neighborhood.  Are the houses around it well kept?  Is there a fire house or water tower near it.  Is it near a busy road.  These may not bother many buyers but if it does let’s know before viewing it.
6.)  Two days before the closing they must give me a written or video testimonial.  Self explanatory.
Most buyers opt in since the above “tasks” are easy and enjoyable.  So now they receive anywhere from about $700 to a couple of thousand dollars at the closing.  And they can use this “found money” for anything from furniture, carpets, appliances, patio sets or WHAT EVER THEIR HEARTS DESIRE.
The vast majority of agencies, especially large ones, will not offer this important benefit but some small brokers do and can.  For the agent, there is less time wasted and more spent with their families and other activities.  And for the broker, it’s simple math.  20% to the buyer is much more efficient than paying 50% – 70% and more to agents.  That’s Help-U-Sell.  Smaller, more efficient operations while netting more per transaction.  Win – Win!     Win – Win!     Win – Win







Dan Desmond, Help-U-Sell, 206 Main Street, Forked River, NJ 08731;


Is Your Friend Truly A Friend?

Written By:  Daniel Desmond

You answer your door one night and your friend the real estate agent is standing there with a sack.


“Put $10,000 in the sack”, demands your friend.

“You will never see it again!

You will never receive any value for it!

Don’t ask what it’s for – it’s none of your business!

Just put the money in the sack!”


Would you do it?


Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you sign a percentage listing agreement based on the value of your home — and   ‘throwing money in the sack’ is exactly what a “friend” is asking you to do!  Whether your home is worth $200,000 or $1,000,000 the transaction is the same!  Why would a friend ask you to pay more?


Call Help-U-Sell today to see how you can stop paying painful commissions with our common sense marketing plans!  Our unique set fee system allows you to price your home more competitively yet walk away with more of your equity!


For 38 years in hundreds of offices Help-U-Sell has saved sellers over two BILLION dollars.  Why not you!!

Daniel Desmond


206 N. Main Street

Forked River, NJ 08731


Open Houses — Pros and Cons

Dan Desmond

There is a lot of discussion around  Help-U-Sell regarding open houses lately.  It has always been in our business model that we offer sellers THE CHOICE to do open houses or not.  If they do and are successful in finding a buyer then they pay a reduced fee since they, the seller, produced the buyer.  (We still handles all the details to close).

Now what if the seller doesn’t want to hold open houses.  Should we do them?  Well, that’s the discussion!  The pros to the seller are increased exposure.   But if they don’t want to host open houses, they probably don’t see the value.  The pros to the agent are that they were trained to believe they could find buyers.  But if the visitors to the home also went to 5 other open houses that day they made contact with 5 other agents.  Hopefully the agent is charming and knowledgeable enough to capture the buyer.
But wait a minute!  What if the agent, instead of hosting the open house, was with his or her family at family activities like soccer, baseball or other sports?  What if they were performing worthwhile activities in their church, civic organization or community?  Wouldn’t they meet buyers and sellers there – if not right away then over time?  None of us are in this business for just a day.  We build our business over time and my personal belief is that time with your family is much more important than sitting in a strangers living room hoping your next paycheck will walk through the door.  And, by the way.  In the Help-U-Sell system most offices have sellers hosting several open houses each weekend.  So on Monday they collect the sign in sheets from SEVERAL open houses and follow up with the buyers and benefit from EACH open house — while they SPENT TIME WITH THEIR FAMILIES!

I know there will be different points of view here and if hosting open houses is your bag, then go for it.  Now, you can see I am not a proponent of open houses and here’s why.  During my 28 years in the real estate business I’ve learned to value my time and my family.  Here on the Jersey Shore for instance we have 16 -18 warm weekends and less if the weather doesn’t co-operate.  Me, I want to enjoy all of them.But here is the most important point I want to make and it’s directed to those with younger children.  There are so many outside influences that affect your children’s development that you have little control over.  They include what’s on the internet, songs, print and more. When they walk out the front door, well, “It’s a jungle out there”!  It is more important with every passing day that you spend every possible moment you can with your children.  Someday you will look back, and realize that the window of opportunity is shorter than you might think.  The most important duty you will ever have on this earth is to be a good parent and, as I said before, I don’t believe sitting in a strangers home is more important than time with your family.

What to Pay Your Real Estate Broker – and How

(Once again, THIS is the single most popular post on the Set Fee Blog. Every day, dozens of people find their way onto this site searching for guidance on what to pay their REALTOR. I’ve freshened this up a bit – added a little more detail – and want to post it again. I only hope this helps some people hang on to more of their hard earned equity.)

I check my stats and other metrics for The Set Fee Blog fairly regularly. It helps me to know what’s drawing visitors and what’s not. It’s also helpful to see what search strings people are using to find me on the web.
Today, I had the following as a search string:
“What Percentage Do Real Estate Agents Charge?”
Ok, so it’s not that unusual. In fact I’ve seen it in the results for this blog before. But today it just jarred me:
What a sad, stupid and unfortunate question!

Seventy plus years of REALTOR double-talk has trained the public to expect to pay a percentage of the sale price of their house to an agent when it sells . . . and that makes no sense whatsoever.

What does a percentage of you home’s value have to do with getting it sold? Nothing!
Think about it:
Here you are in your $350,000 house. Thankfully, you are not upside down. You have roughly $60,000 in equity. So you decide to sell, and list with ABC Realty**, who charges you (and every seller with whom they work) 6%*. When your house sells (for full price), that’s a commission of $21,000!
I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath . . . before I point out that that may be 6% of the sales price, but it’s 35% of your equity!
Meanwhile, your neighbor down the street also wants to sell, but his home is smaller. It’s only worth $250,000. He also lists with ABC and agrees to pay their 6% Commission. When the house sells for full price, the homeowner is going to pay $15,000 — still high, but not nearly as high as your $21,000 commission.
Now, here’s the question of the day: What did YOU get for the extra $6,000 you paid to sell your house through ABC?
More Advertising?
More Open Houses?
A better Sign?
Oh, maybe your agent worked $6,000 harder! Yeah, right.
What you got for the extra $6,000 you paid is this:
Absolutely Nothing

In almost every case it takes no more time, effort, energy, money or marketing to sell a properly priced $350,000 house than it does a properly priced $250,000 house. There are some situations in some areas where a market niche, say, luxury homes, might take a little more time and might require additional or specialized marketing. But these situations are rare . . . and $6,000 extra dollars to sell your $350,000 house? That’s absurd.

It makes no sense today, made no sense yesterday, and will never make any sense at all.
Please don’t take this to mean that your percentage based real estate friend is a bad person.  The percentage model is so deeply ingrained in the ordinary real estate world that today’s practitioners don’t even question it.  It is all they know.  And the truth is, if they were to abandon it in favor of something that makes sense (i.e. Set Fee Pricing), their business model would collapse.  They operate in a world where so many people get a cut of the big commission you pay that changing direction in favor of something better would be impossible.
Smart Brokers – by the way, ‘Smart’ is a synonym for ‘Help-U-Sell’– Smart Brokers charge a set fee. Everyone pretty much pays the same thing no matter what the sale price is. It’s logical. The Broker works very hard to determine his or her hard costs of carrying a listing, then adds a reasonable profit to it, and . . . that’s it: the Set Fee the office charges everyone.
Here’s a little bit of scripting I actually heard in a REALTOR seminar some years ago. It’s what an agent is supposed to say when a potential seller is shocked by the high percentage based commission.
“I know it seems like a lot, Mr. & Mrs. Seller, but think about it for a moment. We’re getting 6%, yes, that’s true; but YOU’RE getting 94%! I think you’ll agree our commission is actually a bargain!”

I hope next time you need to sell, you’ll do the right thing and call a Help-U-Sell set fee broker. You’ll save a bundle (the set fee is usually thousands of dollars less than whatever percentage based commission you’re being quoted). And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that, finally, for the first time in your real estate life, you haven’t been taken to the cleaners!

*Commissions, whether set fee or percentage based, are always negotiable. They are not set by law or REALTOR rule. They are set individually by office Brokers. Price fixing occurs when different Brokers get together and agree to charge the same thing. That’s highly illegal. Different Help-U-Sell offices charge different Set Fees, because the carrying costs of marketing a listing vary from market to market, as do the number of days it takes a properly priced listing to sell.
**The “ÄBC Realty” referred to in this blog is fictitious and is used only for illustrative purposes. Any resemblance between it and any other “ABC Realty”, is purely coincidental.