Bold statement? Not really it's just a fact. So how? Let me share freely with my friends here at Activerain.com. In my humble opinion this is the only way to market to FSBO's that is both cost effective and with very little out of pocket to you, pretty much all it costs you is gas for your car. This blog is not a teaser, I'm not selling anything I'm simply going to tell you how I do it. I must caveat this blog with "I am constantly looking out for my clients best interest." The standards of my FSBO practices are extremely ethical AND my approach is always an attempt to help the FSBO sell their home with or without me. The end result is they typically will list with me.
You will be required to drive to the FSBO's home, on average four times. You will need no pre-printed propaganda regarding you and or your company and you will not need to make a listing presentation to close this listing. By the time the FSBO is ready to list with you they will do so (99% of the time) by simply signing. "Where do I sign?" Let's begin with the first visit to the FSBO. You have heard before that it takes five or six visits to a FSBO before they convert. My average is four visits. What people don't tell you is how do you justify "x" amount of visits? What is your excuse to keep coming back without wearing your agenda on your sleeve? Simple, make your agenda helping them. Here's how it works.
- Initial Visit. I don't even bother with FSBO's that are already listed on the MLS, there are too many that are not and they do not qualify for this conversion strategy. Pull up to the FSBO with your car running and leave your car door open. You are "on your way to show a house in the neighborhood." A typical initial conversation would go something like this. "Hi, sorry to disturb you, I'm on my way to show a home down the street, my name is _______ (hand card) I'm with Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors. I like to make a habit of knowing all of the homes for sale in the _____ market so that when my buyer clients inquire about a home such as yours it sounds like I know what I'm talking about." (humor) Anyway, if you could quickly tell me your asking price, how many bedrooms and if you're willing to do a 3% buyer broker agreement I promise to get out of your hair." (if they don't know what that is I explain to them what that is - I explain that in order to encourage buyer agents that 3% satisfies most buyer broker agreements and encourages showings on your home. After they say yes I thank them for their time and conclude the brief encounter as follows.) "Great! I have enough general information to share with someone should they ask." Sometimes the seller will invite me in their home - they'll want to show it to me but I NEVER go in the house on the first visit. If they ask me to do so it sets up my second appointment with them and I schedule a time to show it another time. Then as I'm about to walk away or as I am backing away from the door (running to my appointment) I ask if they have all of their disclosures and lead based paint documentation. If they say no I say "hold on a sec." and run to my car and hand it to them right on the spot. "The state requires you to fill these out and provide them to the buyer." Now... suppose they don't invite me in to see the house then my excuse to come back for a second visit is to drop off the disclosures, so the only time I hand the disclosures to them on the first visit is if I'm invited in the home, "the next time I'm in the neighborhood I'll drop them by." Sometimes depending upon how warm or cold they are I will say, "I'd like to see your home sometime to get more insider knowledge of the property, but perhaps another day that's convenient for you. In the meantime I will drop disclosures off the next time I'm in the neighborhood. If you're not home I'll simply leave them at your door or drop them in your mailbox." (I never drop them off - instead on my second visit if they're not home I keep attempting until they answer the door - reason being it's important to make that second face to face visit to proceed.
- Now we're at the second visit - wait no longer than three to four days from your initial visit. One way or the other you have prepared them to see your face again. This time I can turn the car off and shut the door as I have come specifically to see them - no sense of urgency on the second visit - a much more relaxed encounter. "Mr. Smith, hi I just wanted to drop these disclosures off as promised," (now if you were invited back and keeping to your appointment to view the house disregard that line and skip down to the walk through) "I mentioned your home to my buyer the other day but unfortunately they were really firm on their four bedroom criteria, otherwise I would have contacted you to show it. I wouldn't mind seeing the house sometime to gain better knowledge of the home and help sell it." Try and get the tour on the second visit if at all possible. If invited in at that time then we proceed to the walk through, if they say today's not a good day then set up a date time to see it. Be sure that if you do not walk through the house on the second visit that you do not leave the house without a specific date and time to do so. Now by this time you'll know if you have a hard cookie to crack - if you do that's something for another blog - "dealing with the tough cookie," this blog is meant to give you the general guidelines of converting FSBO's. Now that we're at the walk through I let them lead the conversation and as they walk me through the house I compliment them on their home saying something positive about each and every room - however I make it a point to look long at the defects. I never say anything negative about the home but I do make sure that they see me looking at or even at times touching defects to the property. Sometimes when they see me looking at them they'll say something about it but I simply shrug it off like it's no big deal and we move on, but I keep subtly noticing the defects. This is an extremely later when you show them comps should they need to come down in their price. If there price is right it's still helpful when you start talking about staging etc... but by that time you're listing them and talking about your relationship in writing. Towards the end of your tour you move onto step three.
- "What are you currently doing to market your home?" Here the answer varies but it's pretty much the same story, "well... we just really put the sign in the yard, we really haven't done much to market it. I guess run an ad in the paper," or they'll say they're on fsbo.com or some other FSBO website. I ask, "have you ever tried to search for homes on FSBO.com as if your were a prospective buyer? I've noticed on those sites that they're only as up to date as they people uploading to the sites, so imagine if you're a prospective buyer, folks have told me they've become frustrated using the sites because of wrong information. People have either listed it, sold it, taken if off the market etc... it's not consistent." I then go on to say this. "As a Realtor knowing what I know about real estate, do you want to know how I would go about marketing my home for sale by owner?" Guess what, they never say no. "Sure." I explain how expensive it is to advertise in the paper, and that after just a few ads you're up in the hundreds of dollars. I go on to explain that the MLS is where they want to put their home, that there are many websites out there and or discount brokers who will list your home on the MLS for a flat fee, usually for no more than $400.00 to $500.00 at the most. They'll upload your photos etc... and they will make your home viewable to all of the agents in your greater market that do not know your home exists. And here's the best part, you'll be on my companies website as well as all of my competitors websites AND Realtor.com, and we all spend millions of dollars to attract buyers to our sites!" They start to look at me like I'm on drugs and or like they're waiting for the other shoe to drop. "It gets better, in our market agents working exclusively with buyers often give their clients portal access to the MLS which automatically updates their buyers to new listings which match their criteria via e-mail - now you don't have to worry about whether or not an agent somehow misses your home on a search - now the buyers will contact their agent and tell them they want to see your home!" (Right about now they love you) "Around 80% of all buyers today search the internet for homes and love clicking on photos etc.. being on the MLS/IDX will ensure that they see your home should it meet their search parameters no matter what site they use!" I answer any questions they have regarding this information I just freely gave them to sell their home and then I leave graciously thanking them for their time. I leave them with another card and say to them, should you decide not to go it alone, and want to interview agents please keep me in mind, I would love to sell this house for you."
- Return in five to seven days. "Hey, how are things going? Did you guys get your house on the MLS? Did you find a discount broker?" 95% of the time the answer is, "no, we just haven't gotten around to it, we've been too busy." Or, if they're already comfortable with you "We started thinking after you left that we may want to talk about listing our house?" :-) Now if they don't ask you to list it on the third visit ask them if it's o.k. if you drop off some blank area Board contracts the next time you're in the neighborhood, so that if they get a hot buyer they can strike while the iron is hot. Leave them with some generic information about staging their home and removing clutter or some other helpful piece of information that would help them to sell their home.
- Make your next visit. Stop by with the contracts but make sure to have your listing contracts with you as well. Remember eight out of ten FSBO's eventually list. This is a people business. You have to get in front of people. Direct mail and phone calls will always lose to a guy like me. I'll beat you every time. Personalize this to fit your personality - this has been meant as a general guideline. Good luck!