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For Best Success in Listing FSBO's...

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Why do people try to sell FSBO?

  • Some think going the FSBO route will save them money - and that it will be easy.
  • Some have had a bad experience with an agent and figure they can't do worse.
  • Some have had a bad experience with an agent and thus have a negative attitude about agents.

You, as a professional real estate agent, know it isn't easy. You also know that listing with a good agent, like you, will likely put more money in their pockets and get their home sold faster.

But if you insult those FSBO sellers by telling them they have no idea what they're getting into or that they made a bad choice when they picked their last agent, you aren't going to win a friend or a listing.

If you want to gain their trust - and their listing - you need to take a gentler approach.

Start by stopping by to get acquainted. Ask to see the house - and ask if they'd be willing to work with you if you had a sunshine breaking through the cloudspotential buyer. Then thank them for talking with you and tell them you have some free information that would be helpful to them. Ask their permission to send it. (With no obligation, of course.)

See if they'd like the information via postal mail, or if they'd prefer email. If email is the choice, be sure to tell them who to watch for in their  "from" line.

Then start mailing, and don't stop with just one or two letters. Trust is a fragile thing, and it takes time to develop.

So get ready to stay in touch until they list, tell you to go away, or actually sell the house themselves.

The For Sale By Owner Letter Set I offer on my prospecting letters page includes two "give-away" items you can use at different stages in your relationship. The first is a "Getting Started" report. It gives hints on determining the proper price, gathering the necessary forms, taking safety precautions, etc. The second is the same kind of checklist that you'd give any seller - things to do to get the house ready for market. Remember that you can also send your market reports, which will help them see if their price is right AND show them that while their house sits there waiting, homes around them are selling.

Letters 1 through 10 expand on the items listed in the getting started report. Each letter offers a little advice and perhaps a little warning. For instance, the letter that mentions the title report warns that they need to contact the title company and get this ahead of time, because sometimes unexpected clouds on the title can delay (and kill) a sale.

While the letters do indicate your willingness to help, none of them shouts "You're wasting your time, list with me today!" The whole point of the letters is to gain that homeowner's trust while you show them that you DO know your business. Right now you're paying attention to them and being helpful - and that's a good indication of how you'll behave should they decide to list with you.

Depending upon the time you have to devote to prospecting for FSBO's, you can call a day or so after you've sent a message - just to ask if they have any questions. And if you happen to be in their neighborhood with a few minutes time to spare, you can stop in to ask how things are going.

Your goal is to stay "top of mind" with them, so when the day comes that they throw in the towel, they'll reach out to you.

Of course, as a professional, you may recognize the signs and know when it's time to ask for the listing.

One thing you shouldn't do - and you may disagree with me - is offer a market analysis before they've indicated a willingness to list with you. In fact, if you believe price is the primary reason why their home has not sold, you probably shouldn't do it until after the listing is signed.

You're giving away plenty of free information with your letters - but never enough for them to be completely effective without your help.

If you have the time and like to write, you can write a FSBO prospecting letter set yourself. If not, my set of 12 letters plus the special report and checklist is only $97.

You can use it as I've described, AND you can use it via a capture form on your website. Put it in a sidebar, or write a whole page about selling as a FSBO. Include a little bit of advice, then offer the special report.

You might even title the page something like "Why listed homes sell for more than FSBO's." Then quote the most recent NAR statistics.

Here's a productivity nudge:

If you decide to write your own set, do make the time to write all the letters before you start using them. You know how busy life can become when you're showing homes, listing homes, and working to get transactions to closing. If you put off writing the follow-up letters, chances are that your plans to follow up faithfully could get derailed.

Wishing you success, and dozens of good new listings!


Jordon Wheeler
The Jordon Wheeler Group - Fairburn, GA
J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service

Hi Marte,

I have not marketed to FSBO in a while, but when I last entertained the idea, I found that most of the sellers were asking way above market for their homes.  And they were thinking that because they save the agent commission they would net better than having an agent.  FSBOs are not on my radar now, but I will keep them in mind and use your advice offered in this post.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Dec 28, 2012 08:38 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jordon - Yes, a whole lot of people probably don't want to believe the truth about pricing. Not every FSBO is a potential client - but SOME are!

Dec 28, 2012 08:53 AM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Marte, your program sounds interesting.  To date, I have not actively marketed to FSBOs.  Your enthusiasm is contagious!

Dec 28, 2012 08:57 AM
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Marte, Brilliant post!  Don't stop is so true!  I am off to check out your letters.  Thanks.

Dec 28, 2012 11:54 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sharon - Good! Enthusiasm gets things going.

Christina - Yes, in prospecting and follow-up, keeping on keeping on is what gets results. People aren't going to decide to choose you based on just one letter - or even two.

Dec 28, 2012 12:11 PM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I have done a few blogs on FSBO. What ended up happening, was a number of them contacted me, to preapprove any of their prospective buyers. These blogs have served me well in 2012, something I will continue in 2013.

Let's make 2013 the best year ever.

Dec 28, 2012 09:57 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Joe - I think lenders would be well-served by prospecting to FSBO's - because they DO need to know that the buyer can buy before taking a house off the market.

Dec 29, 2012 12:54 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I start with a few questions and then some of the STATE required disclosures that most had no idea about.  I flood them with good information and most will become overwhelmed and a bit scared to go it alone. (As they should be).

Dec 29, 2012 09:42 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

William - That is exactly the purpose behind my letters. One person who read them said that if she were thinking of going FSBO, after getting that information she'd know she needed an agent.

I agree with you - With all the legal forms and requirements - people today should be afraid to go it alone. And that doesn't even mention the dangers of negotiating directly, showing your home yourself, etc.

Dec 29, 2012 10:24 AM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

Very nice post and so informative, I love fysbo and have some of th esame approaches

Dec 29, 2012 01:53 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Joyce - I'm glad we agree!

Dec 29, 2012 02:02 PM