It started out as a running joke, Marilou Butcher-Roth remembers, among women in her office playing the “Wouldn’t it be nice if ...” game.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would teach us how to fix that leaky toilet, to hang a group of pictures with panache, or to patch a hole in a wall? The list was never-ending.

But Butcher-Roth, the co-owner of Group Realtors, saw an opportunity. So in January, she held the first Group Women for Women gathering in the firm’s offices, inviting an expert who held a course for the public on things women homeowners should know to do. For free. Nothing to buy; no strings attached.

Every other Thursday night, Group Women for Women met at 7 — usually a dozen or so people lured by word of mouth. They did learn about those toilets, how to patch walls, basic electrical skills, and how to find the best assisted-living facility for aging parents.

The effort has no marketing budget, Butcher-Roth says, but she adds, “You need to lead (in business) with value, create value for the consumer that does relate our expertise. So everything (at Group Women for Women) has something to do with the home.”

September and October meetings will cover how to choose the best colors for your home, how to understand stocks and bonds, and how to recognize and combat mold in the home. For more info, visit www.grouprealtors.com

She spent 25 years selling $200 million worth of real estate in Washington D.C.  area but missed the Midwest. Now, Taya Abbott works for Sibcy Cline Realtors in Harrison as a sales vice president. Abbott, an Indiana native, moved to Cincinnati in 2007 to work for CB Richard Ellis but says she missed the personal nature of residential sales. She joined Sibcy in May.

Kimberly Bertke was named a sales vice president of Grubb & Ellis|West Shell’s industrial advisory group. She previously was a senior associate at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. Bertke completed more than 100 transactions valued at more than $280 million, Grubb & Ellis says.

Here are some stats to chew on: 43 percent of all property buyers found their agent through referrals from friends, neighbors or relatives. Just 4 percent found an agent by walking into or calling a real estate office. Only 8 percent found their agent on the web, and another 7 percent saw that “for sale” sign with your name on it. These numbers come from the 2007 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers study.

Group Realtors moved its Eastside office from Lake Forest Drive in Blue Ash to 8290 Montgomery Road in Kenwood, downsizing from 6,000 square feet to 3,200. The change reflects the fact that sales staff increasingly works out of home offices, or on the road, and needs less formal office space, the company says.

Warm and fuzzy of the day: Cincinnati ranked 10th out of 50 metropolitan areas in Worldwide ERC and Primacy Relocation’s “2008 Best Cities for Relocating Families.”