How to Approach a FSBO (For Sale by Owner)
"Work expired listings & FSBO's!". This is the advice nearly every new real estate agent receives as a way to strum up business quickly and get started on building an empire of listings. At least that's how it seems. The problem becomes when every agent starts doing this, the FSBO's and Expireds get caught in a real estate agent free for all, and no matter how good their intentions may be, agents can easily come off as hyenas.
So what's an agent to do? The fruit is RIGHT THERE! They're OBVIOUSLY wanting to sell their home, so are the only options to either leave them alone & miss out on the opportunity, or put on your hyena suit and hammer the phone line? Although those may be the 2 most common approaches, the good news is there's a 3rd option - what I like to call a 'soft' approach, or more broadly, "doing it right".
To increase success when approaching a FSBO, you need a couple of things - first, you need to be on your "A game" and approach with well-deserved (because you've educated yourself...more on that later) confidence. Second, and most important, you'd better dial that number or knock on that door with some value in your hands.
While percentages certainly vary from market to market, the overall numbers make it obvious that using a Realtor is better than selling a home FSBO in most cases. Sales prices are higher, there's less risk to a seller, the process is easier, and a home sells faster. What's not to love? For many homeowners, it's simply a lack of information, or worse, misinformation they've received that makes them keep real estate agents at arms length. For this reason, the "you're wrong and here's why" approach just doesn't get good feedback.
Showing up and offering information about the local market is value. Comps are value. Insight into buyer trends and staging ideas is value. Do you want the listing? Yes! Are you going to ask for it? No. In fact, in most cases you don't have to. Something like 90% of FSBOs that do eventually sell, sell with an agent listing the property. Why not show yourself as the local professional with a ton of knowledge, and if & (most likely) when the time comes, you'll be the local pro they need to get the listing up and the home, finally, sold.
Next time you approach a FSBO, think first about what value you're offering them. Do you have local market data perhaps they haven't seen? Do you have the time to stop by, introduce yourself, and offer to check out their home to see if there are popular staging methods they can use? Some people call this "working for free", but I call it building rapport. Let's face it, until a transaction closes, we're all working for free. If you're a partner of mine in business, you may know about my prime services suite, which would even allow you to create (ok, have created for you, at no cost) marketing materials for a prospective FSBO client. There are a ton of things you can do, but doing something of value for a FSBO will at the very least turn you from just another agent to someone a home owner knows - that's WAY more impact than an annual refrigerator magnet will ever get you.
Working the FSBO market is a great way to pick up listings. In fact, simply having the guts to call a FSBO or stop by will set you above a lot of others. Doing it right, however, will lead you to success far more often than putting on a hyena suit and joining the pack.
Oh, and those expired listings and the approach to take there? That's a different blog for a different day.