Industry News

Brokers get into cut-rate real estate commissions

Discount, fee-for-service franchises grow nationwide

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Once mere achy thorns in traditional realty brokers' sides, discount and sell-your-own-home real estate companies have grown into sizable competitors. Some of these real estate franchises even doubled in size last year. Help-U-Sell Real Estate added 230 franchises in 2003 for a total of 500 in its network. Assist-2-Sell beefed up its network by more than 100 franchises last year. Growth is easier in a strong housing market. Yet the expansion of these particular realty franchises also suggests alternative pricing models are gaining ground with home buyers and sellers. "People don't want to pay what they used to (for real estate services)," said Help-U-Sell President Rick O'Neil. Syosset, N.Y.-based Help-U-Sell is a fee-for-service brokerage. Sellers select from a menu of real estate services that includes signage, marketing, negotiation, prequalifying buyers, advertising the home on and listing it on the local MLS. Individual brokers set their own fees based on local...