Time and time again, most sellers who try their hands at a “for sale by owner” listing end up throwing up their hands and going with a real estate agent.
But with so many agents circling around the typical FSBO seller for their business, how can any one agent stand out and earn their trust?
Authorify’s Charles Curry said agents he’s worked with have had success by offering sellers resources that help them navigate the FSBO process — not trying to change their minds about pursuing a FSBO in the first place.
“Are you someone who wants to help FSBOs with their selling problem?” Curry, the company’s head of marketing, asked agents in a Jan. 3 webinar. “If so, they’ll see you as their obvious solution.”
Homeowners tend to underestimate how hard it is to sell a house without help, a fact that most of them come to realize on their own, Curry said. Rather than focus solely on trying to persuade them, agents should position themselves as a helpful resource for these sellers, full of expertise on the FSBO process itself.
Curry laid out a four-step process for agents looking to establish trust with sellers who want to test the market on their own first.
1. Find ripe FSBO leads
The first step to getting a FSBO listing is to gather a large list of leads.
Sellers often list their FSBO homes on portals like Zillow, but also turn to social media, Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, open houses or even the simple yard sign.
A regular and thorough sweep of an agent’s geographic and media territory can produce a good starting group of leads.
Timing is also important, Curry said. As a new FSBO listing comes online, that’s usually a good time to reach out. Homes that have been sitting on the market for a long time may be good targets as well.
The day after an open house, or the week after a newspaper ad runs are also good times to jump in, Curry said.
2. Establish trust immediately
A package of printed informational materials — which offers insight into the FSBO process without asking for anything in return — can go a long way toward earning the trust of a potential client determined to sell on their own.
Curry said agents he’s worked with have increased their once-FSBO listings by dropping off these packages on a client’s doorstep, or mailing them to the home.
While this won’t earn the seller’s business right away, it will establish the agent as a knowledgeable resource the homeowner can turn to in a time of need, Curry said.
These “instant-trust” packages should start with a short cover letter introducing the agent, followed by a detailed marketing plan to sell their home and materials with tips on selling FSBOs and the importance of good photography in the listing.
The home-selling tips could come in the form of a book specifically geared toward FSBO sellers, or other materials prepared by the agent.
Agents should also take the opportunity to include agent comparisons and client references — especially those from previous FSBO sellers who had a good experience with that agent or their firm.
3. Follow up with each lead
If the homeowner finds the package helpful or interesting, they’ll be more likely to respond to followups from the agent, Curry said.
Direct mail in the form of letters remains one of the most effective ways of getting a seller’s attention, he said. Text messages and phone calls also work great if they’ve given you their cell number.
Just like in the initial reach-out, the agent’s approach is important. Offer helpful information, and ask questions about how the process is going. Don’t center your followup conversations around a pitch, Curry said.
4. Convert appointments into listings
Once you have an in-person or virtual audience with an interested seller, you should demonstrate you have a plan for the job, Curry said.
Bring their attention to how many platforms they can list their home on through you or your firm — not just Zillow, but the many others available through your services. Mention the ease of coordinating showings with other agents through your platforms.
Come with examples of photography you can provide, with examples of bad photos and good ones for the same property.
Focus particularly on testimonials from previous FSBO owners who went with you and had a good experience. Sellers should come away with the impression you sell homes that others couldn’t, Curry said.
Email Daniel Houston