By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Think that FSBOs dread hearing from you? Think again. Studies show that nine out of 10 FSBOs eventually end up hiring an agent to sell their home. Yet, only 5 percent of real estate practitioners say they work with FSBOs — which means there’s an untapped market for you to grow your business, says author John Maloof in The Real Estate Agent’s Guide to FSBOS (AMACOM, 2008). To help you get started, Maloof gives scripts for justifying your fees, advice on avoiding communication blunders, tips on building rapport, and techniques for showing FSBOs why it’s not in their best interest to fly solo.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO PROSPECT FSBOS
Selling a home with the help of a real estate practitioner will net home owners 32 percent more at closing than selling on their own, according to a 2006 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® study. Still, some home owners try to go it alone. That’s where you come in. Here are some ideas from Maloof’s book.
1. First, find the FSBOs. To create your FSBO prospecting list, scour newspaper classified ads and public ads posted at grocery stores and convenient stores. Record any drive-by sightings of FSBO yard signs. Also, you might subscribe to a FSBO lead provider service, such as www.fsbohotsheet.com or www.fsboleads.com. These companies compile FSBO listings for you on a weekly or daily basis. Another idea: Attend FSBO open houses and then follow up with a card thanking the sellers for allowing you to view their home. In the card, include a list of homes you recently sold in their neighborhood.
2. Be an information source. Create a FSBO package with helpful marketing information for FSBOs. Include your resume, business card, important forms, and tips on staging and holding open houses. Why offer so much valuable information? The S.O.S. package — which can include a sample offer contract, mortgage approval letter, inspection report, and local HUD disclosures — provides a glimpse into the overwhelming amount of work involved in a transaction. That may get FSBOs to realize they’re in over their heads.
3. Give ‘em a call. But first get a copy of the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry to make sure you can call them. If so, in your first phone call, introduce yourself immediately, ask open-ended questions about the home, and ask for their mailing address to send them information (your FSBO S.O.S. package). Speak clearly, smile — your voice tone will reflect it — listen, and don’t talk too much. While you’re on the phone, have a “power list” of talking points in front of you. The list should be a concise summary of the services that you and your company offer. If you can’t reach a FSBO by phone, make an in-person visit.
4. Persistence pays. Rejection is never fun. But it’s something you must endure in the real estate business. Before you land a FSBO listing, you’ll likely have to make frequent follow up calls and hear “no” a few times. Maloof suggests creating a FSBO journal in an Excel spreadsheet to jot down specific details about your contacts with a FSBO — conversation topics, home features, and when you intend to call them back. The spreadsheet will guide your follow up calls. “You must keep calling everyone until they list, sell, or die … no exceptions to the rule!” Maloof writes. “You may have to keep calling some FSBOs for over a year before they list, but on the other hand there will be some sellers who list on the first call.”
5. Ask for an appointment. Once you’ve explained how you can help and provided the FSBO with information, it’s time to get the listing. A seller isn’t going to ask for an appointment — you have to! Don’t be shy or that FSBO may end up calling someone else for help.
“Seeing a For-Sale-By-Owner yard sign should evoke the same feelings you would get from seeing a blank check with your name on it. The potential with FSBOs is endless. And the good part is that FSBOs will always be there for you. In good times or bad times, guess what …. There will be FSBOs.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maloof is a Chicago-based real estate practitioner who specializes in working with FSBOs for Century 21, Grande Realty. Maloof says his work in the FSBO market is what helped him earn a six-figure income — which he did without any previous sales or referrals — in his first year as a real estate agent.
Check back on Monday, Dec. 3, to read the author’s responses to your previously submitted FSBO questions.