by Kris Ann Hegle
SBJ Contributing Writer
Like most salespeople, Rick McGee exudes a high level of energy. It's Friday afternoon, and McGee is moving around his office gathering open-house signs and talking about his passion for selling real estate.
McGee, a licensed real estate broker, and his wife, Mary, own Assist 2 Sell, Buyers/Sellers Realty Inc. Assist 2 Sell, which was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Reno, Nev., has 50 offices in 23 states. The Springfield office was founded in 1994, and it is the only franchise in the state.
Having the only franchise in Missouri has created some challenges. When the McGees purchased the Springfield office in 1996, they quickly discovered that homeowners in the area hadn't heard much about the services provided by Assist 2 Sell.
"I think I must be the only Realtor in town that gets calls from people who want to know what we do," said Rick McGee. "We're a full-service realty company. We can work for the buyer or the seller. What sets us apart is a seller who works with us is given some innovative options for marketing their home, which can save them money."
Like other real estate companies, Assist 2 Sell offers buyers free assistance when searching for a home. Agents can generate a list of homes that are for sale by logging onto the Multiple Listing Service, which is an electronic database used by Realtors nationwide. Once the buyer finds a home, Assist 2 Sell works with them to find financing.
When Assist 2 Sell works for the seller, however, the approach is less traditional. According to McGee, every seller who uses Assist 2 Sell is charged a realty commission of 4.5 percent.
The seller's home is placed on the Multiple Listing Service and the World Wide Web. A lock box is provided, and ads are placed in local real estate magazines. Agents also show the home, help set up open houses and assist the seller with the purchase agreement and closing process.
However, if the seller finds the buyer, Assist 2 Sell will charge the seller a flat fee of $1,995, regardless of the home's price. An agent also will write up the purchase agreement and oversee the sale through closing.
Unlike other realty companies, Assist 2 Sell advertises its fee structure. McGee said he advertises because Assist 2 Sell's commission structure is very competitive.
Determining what is competitive in the Springfield market is difficult, however. Other agents in the area declined to comment on their commission structures, citing anti-trust laws.
McGee said offering a competitive commission structure attracts a higher volume of business. Agents can afford to make less on each sale because they sell more homes.
Assist 2 Sell also works to maintain low overhead. According to McGee, the company's biggest expenses are advertising and equipment. Agents use a high-end computer to access homes posted on the Multiple Listing Service and World Wide Web.
Other high-tech gadgets, such as electronic tape measures and a digital camera, are used to save time.
Because Assist 2 Sell stresses high volume, the company never puts an agent's name on a "For Sale" sign. According to McGee, the four full-time agents at his office work as a team and divide up sales leads. A licensed agent is always in the office during regular business hours, McGee said, and when a potential buyer calls, they get their questions answered immediately.
"The way we work provides a win-win situation for all of us," McGee said. "Because we work as a team, all of us stay busy. We make just as much money as we would working alone, but it helps even out the highs and lows, and it gives all of us a much more normal working schedule."
Currently, McGee is concentrating on increasing his business volume, and he would like to add more full-time agents. He said he's also working hard to make himself stand out from an estimated 230 designated realty companies who do business in the Springfield area.
"I think the biggest challenge I face is getting the word out about what we do," McGee said. "We can save a seller thousands of dollars on a real estate commission."[[In-content Ad]]
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