Don’t Be Intimidated By For-Sale-By-Owner Sellers

Originally posted on RealtyTimes.com by: Jim Remley

For some reason agents generally view For-sale-by-owners as a very tough market to crack. They view private sellers as big, snarling, frothing monsters ready to devour the first agent that dares enter their domain.

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Quaking with fear the few agents that do make the attempt to talk with a private seller usually start their conversations off with something like this:

Hello, is this the person with the house for sale? Have you ever considered listing the home? If you do, would you consider hiring me? Will I cut my fees? No, I’m sorry; my broker won’t let me do that. Oh, I see….sorry for calling…Bye.
Sound familiar? The fact is private sellers offer us one of the most lucrative markets in real estate. Think about it, these people are advertising the fact that they want to sell their home. How much time do we invest sifting through potential sellers to find those precious few that have a need to sell? Some NAR studies show that over 84 percent of all private sellers end up working with a REALTORĀ®, and 70 percent work with the first agent that contacts them after they make their decision to list with a professional.

The first step to winning private sellers over into listings is simply by talking to them. When you have a fear of people, whether it is private sellers, potential sellers, or past sellers, it will limit your income. You can not afford to limit your income; you must look for ways to expand it.

Imagine for a moment that you were not in the real estate business and you needed to sell your home. Is there a chance, that like the thousands of other homeowners across the country each year, you might try to save the real estate commission and sell your home on your own?

You might even think to yourself: Hey, if I can’t sell the property I can always just list the home with a real estate agent.

Many superstars have learned that this is exactly the attitude that most private sellers have when attempting to sell on their own. With this mind, top producers have learned that the key to working with For-sale-by-owner sellers is relationship building.

You want to be the real estate professional a private seller thinks about when they do decide to list with an agent. You may even help push them over the edge with some gentle prodding along their decision making path. So how do you begin the relationship? How do you start this “romance”?

Let’s take a look at three systems used by successful superstars. Of course before calling any seller, you must first cross-check their phone number against the do-not-call registry. One short-cut approach is to use a Web-based service that will cross-check private sellers in your market automatically against the do-not-call registry and then e-mail you a clean list each morning. One website that does this is www.warnocks.com.

Cooperating Agent Approach

The cooperating agent approach is perhaps the simplest, fastest way to contact a large number of private sellers in a short period of time. By using this simple system, you can take the first step towards building a relationship with a private seller that may lead to a listing. Let’s look at this simple script:

Hello, my name is Agent Name. I’m with Company Name. I noticed your ad/sign. First I want to tell you that I’m not calling to ask for a listing today, and I respect your decision to sell on your own. But I do have a quick question. If I had a buyer that would fit your home would there be a possibility that I could show the property?
Great, may I stop by and preview the home Monday or would Tuesday be more convenient?

Did you notice something special about this approach? This script immediately takes down the seller’s defenses by announcing early that we have no intention of asking them for their listing today, and we respect their decision to sell on their own.

How would you feel if you were the seller, and an agent used this approach with you? Most sellers take a deep breath and relax. There is no reason to feel defensive because the agent is only asking to see the house – they aren’t asking for a listing.

The next step is to ask them if you may show their property should you find a buyer that would be a right match their home. If they say yes, you can now set up an appointment to view their home. Your job from this point on is to build as strong a relationship as possible over the course of the next several weeks, perhaps by providing the sellers with financing sheets for their home, guest books for open houses, or even flyers.

Now let’s look at another approach for that slightly tougher private seller who may need a little more finesse.

Relocation Approach

How many times have you seen a For-sale-by-owner sign that says “NO AGENTS!” or read a private seller advertisement that said “Principles only!”?

This script will give you a back door into the home by offering a service that has nothing to do with listing the seller’s home. Instead you will offer the seller your relocation services to help them find their next home. Using this approach may help you to build rapport with the private seller, and you may be the only person who has a relationship with them when they do decide to use a professional.

Let’s see this approach in action:

Hello, my name is Agent Name. I’m with Company Name. I noticed your ad/sign. First I want to tell you that I’m not calling to ask for a listing, and I respect your decision to sell on your own. But I do have a quick question: When you sell your home will you be staying local or moving out of the area?
I have access to hundreds of homes through our MLS system. Would you like a list of some homes that may fit your needs?

My company has a national referral and relocation program to help folks like you relocate to other areas of the country. Would you like some free relocation information on where you’re moving?

Great, I can drop that information off Wednesday or would Thursday be more convenient? Morning or afternoon?”

Top producers are often pleasantly surprised to find that these sellers who have previously said “No agents” are actually very open to this approach because it has nothing to do with talking about the home they are attempting to sell. Instead this technique gives you a way to lead with the sellers need and offer them something of value before you ask for anything in return.

The Helping Hand Approach

To nab even the toughest private owner, we can all learn something from Lieutenant Colombo. Remember the old television series staring Peter Falk as the incompetent bumbling detective who, before leaving any room, would always say, “Oh, just one more thing.” He was successful because he always left himself an opening to come back in and continue his investigation.

Superstar agents often use this same strategy when working with a private seller. Although we don’t wear a crumpled trench coat and drive a beat up car, at least I hope we don’t, we should find a reason to continue visiting with the seller every five to seven days. This will ensure that you are ready to catch the seller in the act of hiring a real estate agent!

The Helping Hand Approach can help you to achieve this goal. The key here is we are going to help the seller sell on their own. Yes, that’s right we’re going to help them sell on their own! Let’s take a look at how superstars use the Helping Hand approach as a painless prospecting technique:

Hello, my name is Agent Name. I’m with Company Name. I noticed your ad/sign. First I want to tell you that I’m not calling to ask for a listing, and I respect your decision to sell on your own. But I do have a quick question: My company has put together a free For-sale-by-owner kit for people selling on their own. It’s a free service that we offer to every private seller in the community. It includes .
Have you received your free kit yet? I’ll be in your neighborhood later this afternoon, or tomorrow morning when would be a good time to drop off your free kit?

Now if you use this approach it requires that you actually have a kit to give the seller. Some offices and some agents even feature their kits on their websites to attract the tech savvy private seller.

My company, All State Real Estate has a page devoted to offering our For-sale-by-owner program to the public.

So can you crack the For-sale-by-owner market? Of course you can! Just apply one of the three easy strategies and you can instantly join the ranks of the top agents in American who regularly farm this market.

Published: December 23, 2004

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