What follows is a complete and un-edited e-mail from a consumer to me regarding the way that we approach the unrepresented seller (aka FSBO) - I thought this might be helpful in some way, and Glen allowed me to share it. Try not to get defensive, instead, use this as a learning and growing opportunity!
I just read your article over at RIS [Staging a Successful FSBO Campaign.] I'll offer a few comments from a sellers viewpoint that hopefully might find their way into the hands of the people who might be best positioned to affect some change in this challenging marketplace of today.
Two years ago my wife and I were in a category you don't really have a slot for in your article. It's a place between Category II and Category III. The seller that's aware of FSBO and all it may offer and entail, but sellers maybe willing to go a traditional route because yes it's the way things have been done for eons and it works to a degree.
So we listed with an agent who came recommended to us by another we felt had been helpful in the past when we were buyers. In reflection we're now aware that this agent listed our home in MLS and just sat back and waited for the calls. Didn't even take pictures, had us supply them, and when we sent updated ones didn't even replace the original older ones. We let her contract with us expire. All she brought us were buyers that tried to low ball us. And her recommendation was always to take the offer. She became known as the soccer mom agent. You must know the type, has a real estate license in order to be able to bring the kids to school and be there when they get out. I imagine she manages to sell the odd home every once in awhile. And you are 100% correct in your article, as a seller, even while listed with this agent we were flooded with offers to list with someone else. All promising they were better than all the others but how am I to believe that when here I see them trying to prey on their own colleague?
That's when we became Category II sellers. With an entry only listing in MLS we did the showings ourselves. Because we both work and can be away from the home for 10 hours in a day we made it clear that 48 hours notice was required to set up an appointment. I lost count of how many calls we received from agents on the message machine after we had left for work wanting to bring someone by at 3:00pm that day. We learned to call back after showings to find out how things went. I began to see another pattern. Time and again we would hear, "oh I'm sorry my clients couldn't possibly meet your asking price". And I would think to myself why in hell did you schedule an appointment with us then? You cost me an entire day getting ready for this showing and brought me a buyer with a prequal $30K below my asking price?
So we thought we had wised up. We began to require a prequal letter before we would even schedule an appointment. That language was added to the listing. And still we got calls on the message machine from agents wanting to show the house the same day. We would call back and tell them we can't schedule an appointment until we see the prequal letter. We heard "I'll get that for you asap" and never heard from most again. We had quite a few try to BS their way around with fantastic stories, but again never heard from most again. One hung up on me after stating haughtily "I can't do THAT!". Several times after spending substantial effort on our part getting the house ready to show we had agents never even show up.
In that time period we got two offers from potential buyers who came to us without representation. Private sales. The first we refer to as the buyers from hell, who after taking over a month negotiating an offer to purchase wasted a total of 3 months of our time trying every possible way to knock the price down further. 10 days prior to closing when their approval letter from the bank was due they could not produce it.
The second buyer signed an offer and a purchase and sale, supplied a prequal letter early on and even an approval letter from the bank. The house passed a home inspection, now it's second in a year, and the second appraisal also went through no problem. This buyer then extended the closing 4 times over a month, by which time we were moved out of the home completely in order to be ready to close, and the buyer walked away leaving us hanging with a $500 deposit. Because the bank in the end would not give them the loan.
We moved back home and relisted with an agent we watched do a very good job selling a friends home. A small one man office that made us feel we would get his undivided attention. He only takes a few listings and works hard to move the ones he has. He brought us a buyer with the first open house. Although we weren't comfortable with them because it was another offer that didn't have much of a deposit, and we are understandably a bit nervous towards that, it was an offer for the same amount as the previous sale. The house passed a home inspection last week. At this point home inspectors and appraisers are making more money off the sale of our house than real estate agents.
Our agent contacted us this morning saying the deal has collapsed because the buyer won't be able to come up with the deposit money they will need at the P&S they were to sign this coming Thursday.
3 deals in the span of a year each one failing with financing issues. As a seller I look at all this and say something has got to change in the Real Estate Industry. The decision to go with an agent this time was in large part to draw upon expertise that we hoped would protect us from yet another buyer that couldn't perform. And it's now apparent that even our agent isn't safe from having this happen.
I hope it's clear that as a seller I have seen quite a few ways the industry as a whole could clean up its act and present itself more professionally. But the major point I want to bring up here is this. You write about the need for agents to find a way to deal with the FSBO phenomenon. I say go after the banking industry and the fast and loose way they are playing the mortgage game. It's time to tighten up on a lot of practices. My agent says he can have a prequal letter inside of an hour for any amount he needs to get a buyer in the door. That needs to stop. It's time to demand that the prequal letter really means something. Both Agent and Seller lose a lot of time and effort and possibly a significant amount of money when a buyer just up and walks near the end of a deal. In this day and age it's costing too much money to be playing games with this sort of thing. The industry as a whole should look into changes that will provide a means of protection and better filters for unqualified buyers.
You want to combat the FSBO phenomenon? Work together as an industry and demand changes from the banking community. You want to be able to portray the image that a licensed Real Estate Agent is the person who can bring a bullet proof buyer/seller to the table.