My Experience As Being A Name On A For Sale By Owner List

Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my home for sale on Zillow.  This is the only place I posted it, I did not put it in the MLS or on any other website.  Apparently my name got placed on a For Sale By Owner list, and to date I have received at least 15 calls from Realtors. 

I do not mind the calls themselves, I totally understand that this is a method Realtors use to get business.  But let me tell what I do mind.  (My point of posting this is not to be mean, but give a homeowner's point of view, and hopefully this will help with calling techniques)

- About 13 of the calls started with the person asking "if you were to sell, where would you move?".  Some people even blurted out this question before saying hello (seriously).  Because I heard this line so many times, it sounded very scripted and eventually just sounded like a canned sales pitch or the person was reading off a list of question supplied by the list service. 

- Not one person has emailed me (my preferred method of communication) or even mailed me any literature.  I assume this is because you would have actually had to go to Zillow to do this, as the email address wasn't supplied on the provided list.  Had anyone done this, they would have stood out, at least a little. 

- I told every person that called, that I was a Realtor.  In IL you are required to say 'agent owned' in your home's marketing , no matter whether you are selling thru your brokerage or not, which I clearly stated in my marketing text on Zillow.  This was news to every single person that called.  In fact one person literally yelled at me for being not stating this (I had).  I told everyone that Zillow was the only place I had posted my home, only one person was even familiar with this site.  All this said was that no one had actually researched my home online and they were just calling down a list. 

- No one gave me any sort of information that was interesting about themselves or my neighborhood or my house.  No stats, no personal bio as to why I should use them.  I would have liked to hear something like "I sold a home three blocks down from you a few months ago" or "I was just in your neighborhood with buyers last weekend" or "oh, I love that (store/restaurant/park) near your home".  Something interesting and personal to get the conversation going would have been nice.

- ONE person said "I am working with some out of town buyers this weekend and I would love to show them your home, can I come preview it".  I know from seminars that this is a technique taught, but maybe he was serious, I'll listen.  I told him I too was a Realtor, but I would happily show him my home.  He ended by saying he'll call me next week to set up a time for the buyers to come by.  He never called, he didn't have buyers.  I felt lied to.   

- Another person called (opening with the line in bullet one) and the conversation turned toward price.  Your home is overpriced she said.  I know I said, I am not aggressively selling.  She then preceded to very snappily tell me how it would never sell at this price and basically made me feel stupid for trying. 

- One person opened with the statement that he was conducting a For Sale By Owner survey.  I huge weakness for surveys, so sure, I would love to participate.  Guess what, it wasn't a survey... sales pitch of questions asked from a list.  The survey ended around the time that I told him I too was a Realtor.  To his credit, he then shifted and asked if I knew of anyone that might be in the market.  This was good, but here is what he asked-  Do you know anyone looking to buy in the next 7-10 days?  Hmmm, I don't think I'll ever know someone who will buy a home in 10 days.  That's a pretty short window I said.  His answer was, I don't really care about people who are looking within the next 2 years, that could be anyone.  (my translation, I don't plan on being in the business two years from now).   Further, why would I refer to you?  I don't know anything about you (he hadn't even given me his name).

I have more, but I'll stop because this post is getting long.  Point is, that not a single call I got would have made me list with anyone who tried.  Some people were flat out rude to me.  Others were very nice, but you could tell they were reading off a script and the minute they went off the script, the uncertainty of what to say next really came thru in their voice.  Others just sounded clueless the whole time we were talking. 

If you are going to work from a list, I think you could get so much further if you spend a little time researching the homeowner's situation.  Of course you won't be able to bang through a list as fast, but I believe the quality of the call will be much higher and hopefully results in a higher closing percentage. 

My overall experience of getting calls was very eye opening as to how the general public is treated by real estate professionals, and it was generally not good.  I hope this post helps people who call For Sale By Owners to up the quality of the conversation they are having as they are also representing the industry as a whole with each call. 

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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  2. Jason Neumann 11/03/2008 03:55 PM
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GREAT JOB! These are the reason's it is hard for FSBO's who need help to trust any Realtor. Hopefully , you have shaken some people to know how not to insult FSBOS

Nov 04, 2008 01:22 AM #92
David Gibbons - Seattle, WA

Laraine - Sara's not allowed to consider leaving Zillow :-) But I definitely agree with you that she'd be a fabulous trainer. You hit the nail on the head - it is the Realtors that are "truly interested in helping" that seem to be most succesful and they're probably not buying these lists. 

Nov 04, 2008 02:12 AM #93
Sonja Adams
Samson Proprties - Purcellville, VA

Great post...I absolutely hate sales calls and will usually not answer the when I'm trying to market, I often mail something out.

Nov 04, 2008 03:56 AM #95
Sherry Hindmarsh (Pflugerville Realtor, Re/Max Greater Austin)

But what a great way to find out what is actually being done by agents.  And you provided us agents with a few great tips.  I agree you might consider a career in Sales Training.

Nov 04, 2008 04:04 AM #96
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I never bother FSBOs anymore. They will call me when they are ready!

Nov 04, 2008 04:52 AM #97
Ellie McIntire
Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD
Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville

Firstly I did not read all your comments, so if I repeat myself, forgive me. What a great post. I agree, there are a lot of HACKS out there. I think that most of them will be working at the mall this holiday season and then not renew their license in the new year. No loss!


Nov 04, 2008 05:01 AM #98
Nelya Calev
John L Scott - Bellevue, WA

I love this post!!! What a great way to learn how others handle FSBO's, note to myself don't be stupid like those agents. I am gonna have to try this. I will post my home on Craigs List and see what kind of responce I get.

Nov 04, 2008 05:10 AM #99
Susan Park
EXIT Real Estate Group - Studio City, CA

Ouch! It's horrible that some people just have NO expeience in building a relationship... yikes! It sucks that you had such a bad experience with your home sale. Relationship builing is definitely something Realtors should get trained on.

In the Realtors defense, we are always trying to find the most efficient way to generate business in this tough market... and believe me, after so many "no's" and "I'm not interested," keeping a positive attitude can become very hard. Everything sounds so scripted because we actually get trained by a handful of trainers and learn the same concepts. Can you imagine a bunch of Realtors stumbling over their words because they have no idea what to say? That's rejection waiting to happen.


Nov 04, 2008 05:12 AM #100

Hi, Sara,

It is so unfortunate that how public see some of us as dishonest, rude, don't know what we are doing but want to get a fat pay check.  But I agree it does happen.  This industry is about words of mouth, people will talk no matter is good or bad, it is a choice for us to decide if we want the good or the bad.  Sara, good luck in selling your house and I like your blog.


Nov 04, 2008 06:40 AM #101
Neal Bloom
eXp Realty - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate

I got you:)

Nov 04, 2008 12:49 PM #102
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Thanks for telling us all this.  How else would we know?  I usually don't call the unrepresented sellers, unless I want to show the property, but I always introduce myself first.  When I tell them I'm a Realtor, I then ask if they still want to talk to me, as a joke, to break the ice.  They usually do.  I actually did convert a FSBO to a listing once, and he honestly said he chose me because I wasn't a "pushy bitch".

Nov 04, 2008 01:21 PM #103
Brady Howard

Boy oh Boy!!!, We have been working FSBO's and Expired's, this is great training material, I totally get the home owners view now.  It never occured to me that alot of  the agents calling were completely just going for the numbers.  I understand it alot better now and will pass this on to my colleges to make sure we are at least in the top 5% when we call.  Thanks For the post.  Brady

Nov 04, 2008 11:11 PM #104
Belinda O'Brien Elegant Stager New Lenox, IL

Hi Sara, A few years back I too was trying to sell my home by owner in Chicago. I did get a few calls from Realtors and was suprised by what they would say. They would talk down to my husband and I and make us feel like an idiot for trying to do it on our own. A very nice Realtor did call us after seeing our sign on the front lawn. She did all of her homework BEFORE calling us. She complimented us on our desire to sell on our own and provided us with a few tips. When we realized we could not do this on our own, she was the first Realtor we called. Why? Because she talked to us, not down to us. Was very helpful and SHE DID HER HOMEWORK before she called. When Realtors make these cold calls to FSBO they should keep in mind that the seller may come to them if they no longer feel they can do it on their own.

Nov 05, 2008 01:09 AM #105
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

How many real buyer calls did you get?  I think this is the reason why people hire a Realtor eventually because they don't want to deal with it anymore!

Not saying it's right or wrong.  I personally don't care for scripted used car sales tactics :)

Nov 05, 2008 09:31 AM #106
New Jersey Real Estate James Boyer Morris, Essex & Union County NJ Realtor
RE/MAX Properties Unlimited, Real Estate - Morristown, NJ

How sad, how truly sad.  I will say that what you experenced is part of the reason that 5% of the REALTORS do about 95% of the business in most markets.  Most REALTORS just don't know what they are doing.

Nov 05, 2008 11:45 AM #107
Laura Sellers
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Preferred Real Estate, Inc.; - Auburn, AL

As a general rule, most people would like to think you care about them and are competent in your profession.   No one likes to feel like a another number.

Nov 06, 2008 06:54 AM #108
Tim Ludemann
Ochopee, FL

I have done the same thing with the same response as your blog.  Best of luck up there in the Windy City.  Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.  Have a Great Day Selling!

Nov 13, 2008 03:30 AM #109
Amanda Evans
DFW Living - Fort Worth, TX
Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas

Very interesting that so many agents used the same lines.   Even more interesting that approximately 90 agents commented on this post and they all hate to call people.

I think I'll start calling on FSBO's if nobody else wants to do it. :)

Dec 16, 2008 06:31 AM #110
Ira Vaxman

Calling FSBOs is one of the best way to get listing. Just don't push them. They will come to you anyway.

Apr 20, 2009 08:24 AM #111
Carl Stars
Sutton Group About Town Realty - Burlington, ON

When I started I used those scripts and made a lot of money. i moved away from the scripts and the income dropped for a period of time. If you approach a private sale you have to offer value . great article

Jun 17, 2009 01:37 PM #112
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