This article originally appeared on the BHGRE Clean Slate blog September 2018.
An agent who sees a “for sale by owner” sign should view it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. The majority of people who try to sell their home independently are looking to save money. Others might plan to sell the house to a family member or neighbor. A few might have tried to sell a home unsuccessfully with an agent. Regardless of the reason, learn how to turn a for sale by owner (FSBO) home into a listing.
Turning a FSBO into a listing is usually not a “one and done” situation. These homeowners need finesse. Instead of selling a service to them, offer to help. Marketing a house is stressful, time-consuming and complicated. Provide useful advice without any expectations. For example, explain how to describe the home to appeal to potential buyers. Be available to answer any questions they have. Follow-up in a week or two to show concern. Time is an ally. The longer the home remains unsold, the more likely the owners will list with a helpful, no-pressure agent.
Honesty is the best policy
Many agents approach owners with a typical statement: they claim they have a buyer for the home. While most agents have a pool of potential buyers, property owners rely on this statement. If the buyer does not select the house for any reason, the owners will not want to list with the agent. Instead, be honest and forthright. Agents should let owners know they work with a variety of qualified buyers. Tell them it is essential to see the home to determine which buyers would be most interested in it. Stand out from the competition by being transparent and realistic about the possibilities.
Focus on qualified buyers
There is an excellent reason why the majority of homeowners eventually list their properties with a real estate agent. A for sale by owner home attracts a myriad of questionable buyers. Some are renters who want the owner to hold the mortgages. Others are investors looking to buy the home for a fraction of its value. There are also people who want to buy a house, but might not be financially able to do so. Agents present the home to qualified buyers. Explain what this means to the homeowners. A qualified buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage and screened to ensure they can purchase the home. As a result, the homeowner can sell the property faster and for more money.
Buyers are often reluctant to negotiate with sellers. Also, sellers tend to be inflexible about their asking price and any requested updates. A seasoned real estate agent has the skills to negotiate the deal to the satisfaction of all parties. Buyers feel reassured knowing a professional is acting as a liaison to the sale. Owners soon recognize the benefits of working with someone who has negotiating power. Instead of letting a potential deal go by, the house could sell for more than the owner expected, with conditions met to satisfy the buyers that they also got a great deal. If possible, agents should offer testimonials and case studies from other FSBO homes they listed and sold to prove their worth to the homeowners.
Provide the personal touch
Agents frequently depend on phone calls and emails to transform a for sale by owner home into a listing. Unfortunately, other agents are doing the same thing. Instead, provide a personal touch by pounding the pavement for a few hours. Visit FSBO homes to talk to the owners. If they are not receptive, resist the urge to be pushy. Just offer a business card, so they can ask for advice as needed. Slip a note in the mail in a week or two to remind the owners that help is available if they want it. Selling a home is challenging, from improving curb appeal to pricing the house accurately.
Follow up regularly
One of the top reasons why agents don’t land a FSBO home is a lack of contact. It is rare for owners to list the house with an agent right away. They still focus on the reasons they did not hire an agent initially. Over time, these reasons fade into the background when the home does not sell. Follow up regularly. Potential clients will become familiar with your name and real estate agency. Share useful tips, such as updated company blog articles and social media posts. Keep in touch by phone, email, text or snail mail, based on the client’s preference. Ultimately, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Turning a for sale by owner home into a listing requires patience and perseverance. Agents need the right combination of knowledge and persistence, without being pushy and presumptuous. Achieving the ideal balance helps agents score more FSBO listings and broaden their client base.