Three Keys to Converting FSBOs
We have all heard for sale by owners are a potential listing source, but few pursue them effectively. I have found 3 keys to converting FSBOs: authenticity, rapport building, and opportunity. They have gone from 0% of my business to 30% of my business in the last few years. It wasn’t always like that.
Like most agents, I avoided for sale by owners. Sure, I did a few mailings my first year in real estate, but after that I gave up. FSBO’s didn’t want my help so why should I bother. That all changed in January of 2016, twelve years into my real estate career. I had a buyer who needed a house in a specific school district and there was very little on the market. There was a for sale by owner. Here is how that conversation went:
Me: Tell me about the house.
FSBO: It’s a 3/2, tile flooring on the first floor, updated, priced at $210,000.
Me: Fantastic. Sounds just like what my client is looking for, can I bring him to see it?
FSBO: We are in Canada right now. We will be down at the end of May. We’re taking an interest list.
Me: Are you sure there is no way to get him in sooner?
Me: Thanks. I will keep the house in mind on the off chance I can’t find him a house in the next 4 months.
I don’t know if it was from my head banging on my desk or the ringing in my ears from my frustrated screams after I ended the call, but I had a business-changing realization. Most FSBO are not adversarial, real estate agent hating, do it on their own or die people. Sure, some are. Most have no clue what they are doing and really, really need our help.
Since then, FSBO as a portion of my business has grown and gets larger each year.
I set out and learned all the methods people were using, studied all the scripts, tested them, watched the YouTube™ videos by the masters, and in the end found my own path to success. Most FSBO agents you see online are men. As a woman, I found their distinctly man-style direct approach to converting FSBO difficult to replicate. It just wasn’t me. I’m not suggesting they are wrong, heck, it works for them and if it works for you – fan-freaking-tastic. If it doesn’t—if you struggle to connect and convert using these “tried and true” scripts—I want to give you another option. A softer one that still works without being salesy or pushy. The one that works for me.
Learn the scripts, practice the scripts, know them front and back, then burn them. You need to know what 90% of the other agents are telling them so you can weaponize that knowledge. In my “authentic” approach I will absolutely throw out parts of a script here and there to highlight how everyone else they talk to is canned while I am refreshingly different. I am Dorothy in sales Oz. I will pull back the curtain and expose the wizards for the snake oil salespeople they are. The FSBO’s love that. It confirms everything they suspect. As for me, well, everyone loves Dorothy.
When I talk to FSBO’s, I talk to FSBO’s. Not a fake real estate persona, me. The real me. I drop the “real estate agent voice” as my teenager calls it and have a conversation. I’m looking up neighborhood information, the competition, facts & figures while I am talking so that I always have the answer to their questions no matter what they are. My end goal…get in the house and meet them face to face. I don’t care if that is a preview, a listing appointment, a drop by at an open house. I can’t take the next step until I get my foot in the door.
As a child I drove my parents nuts because I would never take no for an answer…ever.
Find your inner child and stay on the phone until you have the face to face scheduled. Unless they are one of those aforementioned do or die types that hate agents, get off the phone with them as fast as you can! Nobody needs that kind of negativity injected into their prospecting block.
Here is an important DON’T…don’t show up to a preview appointment with an obvious listing presentation. Here is what I bring:
- A FSBO guide
- Neighborhood stats
- Competition in my MLS on my tablet
This is the same tablet where my listing presentation is. Which I can break out in a flash IF the conversation naturally goes there – it sometimes does. Come prepared, but don’t act like you expected it. If asked, show them what you do to successfully sell homes. If not asked, set the next contact point.
The listing is won or lost in the actions you take after the initial meeting. Always do everything you tell them you will. If you say you will deliver a CMA – do it. If you promise to bring a buyer by, try. If you can’t find one, call and tell them the client you had in mind wasn’t interested. Never leave a face to face or end a phone call without a next contact point established. This is crucial. If you stop the chain, you are dead in the water. Need ideas?
- Hold an open house
- Hook them up with a lender to pre–qual potential buyers
- Do a CMA to help them justify their value
- Check their sign placement or loan them generic signs for their open house
- Help them get professional flyers
- Market their house (through a system like listing booster)
Search the internet for ideas, look in Facebook groups (Lab Coat Agents for example), talk with your peers – create an arsenal of items of value that you have ready to use as you get your FSBO from prospect to listing. Each time you meet with them, you are building rapport, developing a relationship that moves you from random REALTOR® to trusted advisor. Don’t just wing it and hope to come up with something on the fly. The worst thing you can do is offer a FSBO something and fail to deliver in a timely manner.
When I talk to a FSBO or meet them face to face, there is one important question, from a script, that I always ask. It’s my favorite one. “How long are you planning on trying to sell on your own?” It’s direct, but not pushy and doesn’t assume I am getting their business. The best part is 99% of the time they answer it…honestly. That answer will tell you how long you are going to be “dating” this FSBO, it will confirm your suspicions to run away, it will empower you see the opportunity when it presents itself.
Seeing the opportunity will allow you to take action and ask the question – the “asking for their business” question. Here are a few ways to ask:
“When you decide to list, will you call me first to give me the opportunity to earn your business?”
“I would love the opportunity to be one of the agents you interview. Can we set that up now?”
“Before you list with someone else, can you call me so I can show you a comparison of the ‘actual’ costs and compare marketing methods?”
“If you haven’t sold in a month, would you be willing to sit down with me to see how I can get your home sold?”
Leave fear at the door
The fear of rejection is why so many agents fail with FSBO. Fear makes them blind to the opportunity when a FSBO shows signs of being open to listing. They are afraid to ask for the business. This method is a softer approach. It takes the time to get to know each other. Taking the time to build rapport while being authentic and a provider of value makes it harder for them to say no when you ask for the business. As we all know, people do business with people they know and like. Getting a FSBO to know and like you is a great way to earn their business. If you have been stumbling with for sale by owners or afraid to try converting them my 3 keys to conversion, authenticity, rapport building, and opportunity, can be the game changer for you with FSBOs. It was for me!