For Sale By Owner… Reading the signs

What do you think of when you see a For Sale by Owner sign? I guess the answer to that question would depend on your place in life and whether or not you fall into one of the following categories… Buyer, Seller, or Agent.

I can tell you that for the most part, buyers see a “for sale by owner (FSBO)” in much the same way they would see any other real estate for sale sign. There have been many times over the years that I have heard “Hey Mack, I wonder what the deal is with that home. Can we see it? What is the price?” My response is usually something like “Sure, I can look into that for you. No problem.” Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 my efforts to open a line of communication and set an appointment are met with resistance, frustration, and disappointment.

As for the other Sellers on the block, they have most likely spent some time considering becoming a FSBO themselves. The FSBO is often thought of as the underdog by the surrounding Sellers. Everyone wants to see the FSBO succeed but at the same time know that they are at an extreme disadvantage.

Now, what do you think an agent sees? I can tell you what I see… I see a sign in the front yard that reads “I want to sell my house and don’t have an agent yet, please help!” I know that if you are a reading this blog from the position of a FSBO you are probably thinking that the message you want to convey is “I want to sell my house and hate Real Estate Agents!” Therein lays the irony. There are agents in this business who make their living following up with and converting FSBO’s into listings. This means that as soon as a FSBO sign is up in the yard, the home owner is going to start getting all kinds of calls from agents trying to earn their business. By the time I have driven by with my buyer clients who are actually interested in the home, the Seller is already aggravated and fed up with getting calls from Agents.

If there is a take-away to be had here it is this. Most agents calling on a FSBO sign are indeed trying to get the listing. However, in today’s market there are so many ways for FSBOs to advertise that you might actually be able to capture qualified traffic. Understand though that truly qualified traffic will most certainly come with a Buyer’s Agent. There is no way that an educated savvy buyer will want to look at your home, only your home,  and not a single one of the other thousands in the area before committing to the purchase.

Part of being a successful FSBO is being able to read the signs. Is this agent calling me because they want my listing or because they have a buyer with a legitimate interest? As I write this article, I am in the middle of negotiating what appears to by my first successful For Sale By Owner in six years. That being said, I can not sit here and say that selling By Owner is impossible. The fact of the matter is that it can happen… You just need to be able to read the signs.

6 comments to For Sale By Owner… Reading the signs

  • It is ironic isn’t it – they are fly paper for agents so to speak 😉 Most people I know, myself including, are distrustful of FSBO. They feel like a law suit waiting to happen, an informed seller, and someone who has a misconception of real estate and the market and probably wants WAY too much for their home. It also seems a lot of FSBO’s are motivated to really sell.

  • So true. This might make for a series of blogs, I would like to know how it goes.

  • Great post! Historically, my impression was that FSBO’s were always overpriced and unwilling to work with buyer’s agents. Now, I get a better sense that FSBO DIY sites are informing FSBO sellers that they should see Buyer’s Agents as an asset, a marketing tool, and, yes, as potential seller’s agents when they realize they’re missing out on a big chunk of the market by going FSBO.

  • You are right to say the FSBO can get frustrated with agents who call only to try to get the listing. We need a quick line at the beginning of the conversation to assure the seller that we really do have an interested party. I’ve had a few successful transactions with FSBO’s and both had someone educating them on the listing side which I was very thankful for!

  • FSBO homeowners are really lucky if they get a Realtor to bring their buyer to the transaction because then the Buyer Agent will make sure that the transaction follows the rules and regulations, at least on the Buyer’s side.

  • Prior to being a Realtor, I attempted to sell my home by myself to avoid paying the commissions. I did myself a dis-service by not exposing my property to all the potential Buyers (via multiple-listing service/Realtor) and priced the home according to what I thought it was worth …vs. what the market was willing to pay. Once I finally hired a Realtor, the home sold immediately.

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