Help-U-Sell is a real estate brokerage that advertises cheap commission rates for home sellers. Like most traditional brokerages, Help-U-Sell is a franchise. Each office is independently owned and operated, which means fees, services, and agent quality will vary between locations.
That said, we have some concerns about Help-U-Sell’s overall business model. Although it offers low commission rates, the way it creates those savings may introduce unnecessary risks to your home sale.
The simple fact is that you have a LOT of options to save on real estate commission fees. As the Help-U-Sell reviews we’ll cover illustrate, you’ll likely find better value — and fewer risks! — with other discount services.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a flat $3,000 listing fee (or just 1% for homes above $350,000). Clever connects you with top full-service realtors in your area, ensuring you save big — but never compromise on agent quality or support.
✍️ Key Takeaways
- Every Help-U-Sell office advertises discounted real estate commission rates, but actual fees vary between locations
- More than 90% of Help-U-Sell’s offices have closed since 2007, suggesting that its business model is outdated and that competitors deliver better overall value
- Help-U-Sell currently has around 80 offices across the U.S.
What is Help-U-Sell?
Help-U-Sell is a discount real estate franchise that can help you sell your home for less than you’d pay with a traditional real estate agent.
Although you might not know it from the company’s antiquated branding and clunky website, Help-U-Sell was once a trailblazer in the real estate industry.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, realtor fees often cost as much as 7% of a home’s sale price. Consumers had few options to save on commission, aside from listing their house “for sale by owner” (FSBO) — and many did! At one point, 15% of all sellers went the DIY route, nearly double the rate of FSBO sales in 2020.
✍️ Editor’s Note
Help-U-Sell founder Don Taylor believed that by advertising commission savings, he would attract enough customers to turn a profit — despite earning less money on individual sales.
The business model was incredibly successful — for a while. Help-U-Sell began franchising in the 1980s. By 2007, it boasted approximately 1,000 locations, making it the fastest-growing real estate franchise in the U.S.
However, like longtime competitor Assist-2-Sell, Help-U-Sell struggled to recover from the U.S. housing market crash. Its parent company declared bankruptcy in 2008, and while the Help-U-Sell brand survived under new management, it lost many franchise locations.
Increased competition from a new generation of discount real estate services — led by low commission companies like Clever Real Estate and Redfin — only accelerated Help-U-Sell’s decline. Today, it has fewer than 80 U.S. offices, roughly 92% less than it had in 2007.
Looking for a better way to save on realtor fees? Find the top ten low commission companies, ranked!
How Help-U-Sell works
Help-U-Sell advertises cheap listing fees, then offsets those discounted rates by providing fewer services — or requiring its agents to juggle more customers — compared to traditional, full-service realtors.
Help-U-Sell’s listing packages vary between locations, but, in general, most of its franchises provide the same services as a traditional brokerage.
If you list with Help-U-Sell, your agent will likely provide assistance with:
- MLS listing
- Showings and open houses
- Negotiating with buyers
- Closing coordination
Help-U-Sell’s approach could translate into real estate commission savings, but it also creates potential service quality compromises that make this company a riskier option than many of its newer, tech-forward competitors.
How Help-U-Sell’s franchise model works
Unlike most discount real estate brokerages, Help-U-Sell is a franchise. Although all of its offices share a logo and the same basic business model, each location is independently owned and operated.
✍️ Editor’s Note
The most important thing you should know about Help-U-Sell’s franchise model is that fees and service quality will vary between locations — sometimes quite a bit!
Based on franchise disclosure documents we’ve reviewed, it seems relatively easy — and cheap — to start a Help-U-sell franchise.
In fact, the company frequently appears on “cheapest franchises to buy” lists. Owners pay Help-U-Sell an initial $17,750 for the right to use the company’s branding and trademarks, plus 6% of their gross revenue as an ongoing royalty fee.
The main requirements are that owner-operators must:
- Be licensed to run a real estate brokerage
- Complete mandatory training
- Follow the company’s policy manual
- Charge set fees instead of percentage based commission
Since it’s not too difficult to start a Help-U-Sell franchise, brokers have established offices in rural locations where there are few alternatives to traditional, full-price realtors. This can be beneficial for consumers who don’t live in large metro areas.
But, the low barrier to entry means that quality may suffer across the brand. Further, many franchises aren’t even following Help-U-Sell’s established guidelines. In fact, some offices do charge a percentage-based commission rather than the company’s advertised set fees.
How much does Help-U-Sell cost?
Every Help-U-Sell franchise sets its own pricing, but the majority of offices charge a “set fee” based on the home’s listing price.
🚨 Help-U-Sell’s advertising is misleading
Help-U-Sell calls its set fee one of the “five pillars” of its business model, and the corporate website says franchises “never insist on fees based on a percentage of the sales price.” However, in our research, we uncovered Help-U-Sell franchises that charge percentage-based listing fees.
Some offices charge a flat listing fee to all sellers. For example, Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties advertises a flat $5,750 listing fee, whether your home is worth $100,000 or $1.5 million.
Others, like Help-U-Sell Golden Homes in Martinez, CA, charge different set fees based on your price range:
|Home Price||Help-U-Sell Listing Fee*|
|Up to $500,000||$5,950|
And although Help-U-Sell’s main website claims all offices offer a set fee, some franchises, like Help-U-Sell Select Real Estate in Eugene, OR, actually charge percentage-based commission. At this office, sellers pay a 1.5% commission rate, subject to a $2,250 minimum fee.
If you want to save on realtor fees when you sell your home, it makes sense to find a company that charges predictable fees so you know exactly how much you’ll pay.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate charge just a 1% listing fee for homes over $350,000, and a flat $3,000 for homes under that price. You’ll get that rate no matter where you are in the U.S.
Expect to offer 2.5-3% in buyer’s agent commission
Alongside Help-U-Sell’s listing fee, expect to offer a buyer’s agent fee that’s competitive in your area. In most cases, that adds up to around 2.5-3% of your home’s sale price.
Technically, the buyer’s agent commission is entirely up to your discretion, so you can advertise whatever rate you want. However, we recommend offering a fee that’s consistent with the average commission rate in your local market.
Otherwise, realtors may avoid showing your home to buyers. This could reduce your listing’s visibility — minimizing competition among buyers and making it harder for you to maximize your sale price.
Help-U-Sell vs. traditional realtors
All Help-U-Sell franchises and agents are fully licensed. And for the most part, they provide the same basic types of services as traditional realtors.
However, although Help-U-Sell agents may offer a similar range of services on paper, there may be significant differences in service quality.
Help-U-Sell agents may provide less personalized support
The biggest risk to working with a Help-U-Sell agent is that they may be too busy to provide hands-on, personalized support. As with many discount real estate brokerages, Help-U-Sell compensates for its low listing fees by requiring agents to manage more customers than a typical realtor.
Usually, low commission brokerages offset their agents’ extra workload in one or more of the following ways:
- Offering fewer services (e.g., no open houses or 100% remote support)
- Giving extra discounts to sellers who buy a home with them too
- Developing technology that makes the home-selling process more efficient
That’s not the case with Help-U-Sell. It claims to provide the same full-service customer experience as a traditional brokerage — at a lower price. Most locations DON’T offer built-in savings for buyers. And one look at the videos on Help-U-Sell’s website proves this company isn’t quite on the leading edge of digital technology.
✍️ Editor’s Note
Simply put, Help-U-Sell’s business model “creates” savings by expecting its agents to do more work than realtors at other companies. And the fact that the number of Help-U-Sell locations has plunged more than 90% in less than two decades suggests this model is NOT working.
Overworked agents may not provide first-class service
It’s possible that individual Help-U-Sell franchises have developed strategies that allow agents to juggle more transactions without negatively impacting your experience.
However, even the most talented realtors can only handle so many clients at once before service quality starts to suffer. Many Help-U-Sell complaints concern agents who behaved unprofessionally or didn’t seem motivated to help sellers negotiate the best deal possible.
Read Help-U-Sell reviews for the specific office in your area to gauge whether its agents deliver satisfactory customer service.
Help-U-Sell may not attract top agents
Another risk you’ll encounter with Help-U-Sell is that the company’s business model isn’t designed to attract the best real estate agents.
Although individual Help-U-Sell offices determine their own compensation structures, they’re generally not very attractive for top-selling realtors compared to a traditional brokerage.
For example, Help-U-Sell agents who get paid on commission usually have a 50/50 split with their office. So, if an agent collects a $6,000 listing fee on a home sale, Help-U-Sell will take a 50% cut — and the agent will keep the rest.
This is a much worse commission split than most traditional brokerages offer. At Coldwell Banker, for instance, agents keep a minimum of 80% of the commission they earn. At RE/MAX, novice agents earn a 60% split, which increases to 95% as they sell more homes.
At other offices, like Help-U-Sell Greensboro, agents earn a salary instead of commission. Salary-based compensation provides mediocre agents with income security. They’ll earn the same income no matter how many (or few) homes they sell each month. But this model has serious downsides for top-tier agents — after all, it limits how much they can earn!
The bottom line is that the best real estate agents are going to work for the brokerage that offers the best compensation structure. And, as even the company itself admits, that’s NOT Help-U-Sell.
Help-U-Sell recruits agents who are struggling — not top sellers
Based on Help-U-Sell’s agent recruitment materials, the company directly targets agents who are making very little money — and closing hardly any deals.
Consider this pitch from a video on why agents should join Help-U-Sell: “Are you one of the agents whose income… might be higher if you were asking people if they prefer paper or plastic — instead of showing houses? Don’t feel bad about it… it just means you’re in the wrong place.”
That doesn’t mean that Help-U-Sell doesn’t have any good agents. Quality is always going to vary between offices and individual realtors — just like it would at any real estate brokerage!
However, in general, the way Help-U-Sell recruits and pays its agents does make it less likely that the BEST realtors in your area work for Help-U-Sell.
Luckily, saving on commission doesn’t have to mean sacrificing service. Our friends at Clever have pre-negotiated huge discounts with top-rated agents from nationwide brokerages like Keller Williams and Century 21.
When you sell with a Clever partner agent, you’ll get the same experience you’d expect from a traditional realtor. But since Clever offers a flat $3,000 listing fee (or just 1% above $350,000), you’ll pay a LOT less.
Help-U-Sell reviews: pros and cons
Since Help-U-Sell is a franchise, fees, service quality, and overall value will vary — often considerably — between locations.
Reading Help-U-Sell reviews for the office in your area is the best way to figure out if the company is a good fit for your situation. That said, Help-U-Sell’s general business model has some inherent benefits and risks you should weigh carefully.
Pro: Discounted listing fees are legit
A consistent theme among positive Help-U-Sell reviews is that the company’s cheap listing fees translate into commission savings.
However, Help-U-Sell fees vary between locations, and depending on what’s available in your area, the company might not be your best option. Compare Help-U-Sell against other discount services — as well agents from traditional brokerages — to find the best bang for your buck.
Pro: Hands-on support from local franchise owner
In general, Help-U-Sell franchise owners stay involved with the day-to-day management of their businesses. Many owner-operators also work directly with customers — especially sellers.
There’s an obvious advantage to having the franchise owner as your agent. After all, no one else in the office has as much direct incentive to go above and beyond on your behalf.
However, there are potential downsides too. If the franchise operator doesn’t provide the top-tier customer service you’d expect, they don’t have a supervisor to hold them accountable.
Con: Poor quality agents
When you’re involved in a financial transaction as complex as selling your home, having an expert realtor on your side makes all the difference.
Unfortunately, given that Help-U-Sell recruits agents who are struggling to earn a living at traditional brokerages, it’s unlikely that they employ the best real estate agents in your area.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the Help-U-Sell agents at your local franchise are bad. After all, agent quality will always vary between locations — even at conventional brokerages!
However, it does mean that if you decide to list with Help-U-Sell, you should evaluate your options carefully to ensure you find the right agent.
Remember, you’re hiring the agent — not just the Help-U-Sell brand!
Not sure where to start with your agent search? Our friends at Clever have pre-negotiated big discounts with top-rated realtors in your neighborhood. If you sell with one of Clever’s partner agents, you’ll get full service for a flat listing fee of $3,000 — or just 1% for homes above $350,000.
The best part? Clever’s service is 100% free. No hidden fees, no strings attached, and absolutely no obligation.
Con: Limited-service packages may offer poor value
Many Help-U-Sell offices offer a range of service packages, allowing customers to select the level of support — and savings — that’s right for them.
For example, some franchises advertise a “paperwork only” people listing their homes “for sale by owner” (FSBO). After you find a buyer, Help-U-Sell will essentially act as a transaction coordinator. They’ll help you write a purchase agreement, fill out legal documents, and manage the logistics of the transaction.
However, pricing on these limited-service packages varies considerably between offices. We’ve seen some franchises advertise fees above $2,000, which is incredibly expensive for what you get.
If you’re selling FSBO and thinking about using Help-U-Sell, we recommend comparing their rates against what it would cost to use a flat-fee MLS listing service and hire a local real estate attorney to supervise the closing process.
The best Help-U-Sell competitors
Although listing with Help-U-Sell may be cheaper than using a traditional realtor, its fees are relatively middle-of-the-pack compared to other discount brands.
Depending on your situation and priorities, you may find another low commission company in your area that offers a better combination of savings and service quality.
|Company||Average Rating||Locations||Listing Fee||Buyer Incentives||Average Savings*|
|Help-U-Sell||Varies by location||Select markets||Varies by location||No||Varies by location|
|Clever||4.9 (1,512 reviews)||Nationwide||$3,000 or 1%||Yes||$7,375|
|Redfin||3.9 (416 reviews)||Nationwide (select markets)||1.5% (min. fees vary)||Yes||$5,550|
|Assist-2-Sell||Varies by location||Select markets||Varies by location||No||Varies by location|
Assist-2-Sell is another discount real estate franchise that advertises flat listing fees for home sellers.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, it was one of the largest discount brokers in the U.S. However, like Help-U-Sell, Assist-2-Sell has struggled to compete with newer low commission companies. Over the past 15 years, it’s lost roughly 80% of its locations.
While Help-U-Sell pioneered the discount brokerage model, Redfin brought it into the 21st century. Redfin’s 1.5% listing fee isn’t the best rate available, but it’s a lot cheaper than selling with a full-price traditional realtor.
3. Clever Real Estate
Clever is a free agent-matching service that offers big commission savings WITHOUT the service-quality compromises that you may experience with Help-U-Sell.
Clever pre-negotiates low rates with traditional realtors from major brokerages like RE/MAX and Keller Williams. With Clever, you’ll sell with a top-rated, full-service agent for a 1% listing fee — or $3,000 if your home sells for less than $350,000. Eligible buyers may also receive a cash refund with Clever Cash Back.
FAQs about Help-U-Sell
How much does Help-U-Sell charge?
Help-U-Sell fees vary between offices. Since the company is a franchise, every individual owner-operator sets their commission rates and pricing structure. Selling with Help-U-Sell could cost as little as a flat $2,950 in some areas, but sellers with pricier homes in high-end markets could pay much more. Find out which company charges the lowest commission fees.
How does Help-U-Sell work?
Help-U-Sell advertises realtor commission savings, then compensates for its discounted listing fees by providing fewer services — or requiring agents to juggle more customers — compared to traditional real estate brokerages. Learn more about Help-U-Sell's business model.
Which is better: Assist-2-Sell or Help-U-Sell?
Help-U-Sell and Assist-2-Sell have similar business models, fees, and potential tradeoffs. If you're set on listing with Assist-2-Sell or Help-U-Sell, your best bet is to compare customer reviews for the individual franchises in your area. However, depending on your location and priorities, there's likely a discount service that offers a better mix of personalized support and commission savings. Find the best low-fee realtors near you.
Looking to sell your house without breaking the bank? Read on to learn about alternatives to Help-U-Sell, as well as how to find the right low commission company for your situation.
What Companies Offer the Lowest Real Estate Commission Fees?: Help-U-Sell’s listing fees are cheap, but how do they stack up against the competition? Find out which discount service charges the lowest commission rates.
Assist-2-Sell Reviews: Learn The Good, The Bad, AND The Ugly: Assist-2-Sell is a discount real estate franchise that offers many of the same advantages — and built-in risks — as Help-U-Sell. Read reviews from real Assist-2-Sell customers to learn the truth about this company.
Discount Real Estate Brokers and Agents: Everything You Need to Know: Curious about how discount brokers like Help-U-Sell work? Learn more about how these services create savings, how they’re different from conventional realtors, and how to decide which one is best for you.
Clever Real Estate: Must-See Reviews: Whether you’re buying or selling, Clever can help you find top-rated realtors in your area. Learn how its free agent matching service can help you find full-service agents who charge just $3,000 or 1%.