Winning Over the “For-Sale-By-Owner”

Tom Hopkins

By Tom Hopkins

I love for-sale-by-owners. Why? Because it’s like owning oil wells when you know how to work with by-owners. Without a doubt, they are the easiest avenue to real estate success out there. Yet so many agents choke up whenever they have an opportunity to work with by-owners. Somehow, they always find reasons not to.

Why do so many real estate people fail to tap the by-owner gold mine? Three reasons:

  1. Lack of knowledge.
  2. Fear of rejection.
  3. No persistence.

Follow my step-by-step process and you will find gold under by-owner signs. At this point, let me warn you about one thing: my process won’t work overnight. You have to keep at it strongly for at least three weeks before you see the nuggets start to come out of your personal forsale- by-owner gold mine. If you aren’t willing to wait three weeks for a payoff, you’re in the wrong career.

Some of the steps overlap a bit, but read them all before you take any action.

  1. Stake Your Claim Concentrate your efforts by choosing a clearly defined target area in which you’ll work with all promising by-owners. This could be a geographical area, a type of home, or a certain price range of property. Before you begin, clear your plans with your manager. It’s vital that you fully understand your office’s policies and the rights of other agents.

Since you intend to dig deep enough to strike gold instead of skimming over the treetops, start with a smaller area than you expect to cover eventually. Sharpen your skills there. Then, as soon as you’re working efficiently with by-owners, you’ll be able to expand your effort without losing power.

  1. Research By-Owner Ads or Listings Every Morning Not once in a while – every morning, every month. Enter the information into the CRM you are using. You won’t have all the information you need at first, but you’re going to get it.

Once you start making some money in this business, you might want to subscribe to a service that does this step for you. There are companies online that will, for a fee, provide you with all the latest by-owner listings

  1. Decide on a Plan of Action for Each When will you call on them? What will you say? How will you get them to see that you’re not the enemy, just someone providing a valuable service in the area? Start thinking strategy the moment you lay eyes on each ad.
  1. Act on Your Plans Every Day of the Month Energy is the key element in getting started at listing for-sale-by-owners. One of the major reasons why they eventually go for professional service is that they get tired of giving up their free time evenings and weekends. By-owners look for workers, not players. If you call Monday on their Sunday ad, they’ll think you watched the ponies run while they sweated through another open house. You won’t become a champion lister on the 40-hours-a-week plan. Be sure to let the by-owners know that you’re making things happen in real estate on the weekends.
  2. See the People There are two ways to get in to see a by-owner. You can phone them seeking a listing – only if their number does not appear on the National Do Not Call List. If you have a qualified buyer, you may call as the buyer’s agent – even if the number listed is on the Do Not Call List.

Another way of contacting them is to stop by the home. If they’re not on the DNC list, always phone for permission to pop by and visit. The advantages are many. You can call earlier in the morning than you can knock. With the time that one unannounced visit will take, you can phone several by-owners. By phoning first, you won’t waste so many precious minutes ringing doorbells at empty houses or interrupting people during their morning get-out-of-the-house routines. On the phone, you’re more in control of the situation; you can use your sophisticated and well-rehearsed techniques to ease your way into their presence.

To keep FSBOs from hanging up on you when you identify yourself as a real estate agent, simply say this, “I understand that you want to sell the home yourself. I’m just asking for permission, if I have a qualified buyer who might be interested, to bring them your way.” This will make them curious.

When they ask why you’d do that say, “As the agent for buyers, it’s my job to be able to present them information on all available properties that meet their needs, whether I’ve listed them or not.” This tells the sellers you’re a professional and will cause them to lower their resistance to you.

Then, simply ask for permission to view the home with the intention of gathering data for your buyers to consider. When they agree, you have your foot in the door because you’ve approached them differently than all the other agents who called asking for the listing.

During your visit with them, don’t push for the listing. Simply ask how they’re handling the marketing; if they’re getting many showings, and so on. In other words, help them realize the heavy load they’ve taken on by trying to sell the home themselves. Then, call them weekly asking about how much activity they’ve been having while telling them about all the activity you’ve generated. Eventually, most FSBOs will see the light and give you the listing.

Follow these steps and you’ll soon tap into the by-owner goldmine!


Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as a real estate listing and selling expert. Learn more at www.tomhopkins.com.