I am often asked, “What do you say when a For Sale By Owner seller says [asks]…?” I always have an answer for every FSBO objection, but only because I have the advantage of both knowledge and skill over the FSBO seller. Here is a list of common FSBO seller objections and a quick follow-up statement for the listing agent.
They say: “I’ll save money. I won’t have to pay realtor commissions.” You say: “Well, you may save a portion of the commissions; did you know that over 90% of the For Sale By Owner homes are sold by realtors?” (FSBO response) “So, we are really talking about saving the seller side of the commission. Is it worth saving a small percent of the sales price, knowing you will eliminate the vast majority of buyers from even looking at your home? When would you have time to discuss a plan for selling your home?”
They say: “I am going to see if I can sell it on my own.” You say: “Good! Have you considered what type of buyers look at For Sale By Owner homes?” (FSBO response) “Agents work with qualified buyers, people that have the means to secure loans or may be cash buyers. What arrangements have you made to assure your potential lookers are qualified buyers?” (FSBO response) “That is interesting. Do you have time this evening to get together to discuss a plan for pre-qualifying buyers?”
They say: “I have an ad in the paper and I’m going to put it on Craigslist” You say: “Wonderful. What other methods are you using to expose your home to potential lookers?” (FSBO response) Do you have time to meet this weekend so I can share a few other ideas with you?”
They say: “I have someone who is interested.” You say: “That’s great news. Are you aware of the pre-negotiation strategies that will assist you, as the seller, to secure the best possible offer without waiting days upon days?” (FSBO response) “Would tomorrow morning work for us to review the strategies?”
They say: “My friend is an attorney, so she is going to do the paper work.” You say: “The four big steps in getting your home sold are: exposure, responding to buyers, negotiating and the paperwork. I am just curious, how is your friend going to assist you with the other three big steps?” (FSBO response) Would you be able to meet tomorrow during the day or in the evening to discuss these three big steps?”
They say: “I can’t afford to list with a realtor. I need every cent of the sales price.” You say: “I understand. How did you determine your sales price? (FSBO response) “Great! Are you very familiar with the current market facts?” (FSBO response) “Would you have time to meet Monday or Tuesday evening to review the current housing market facts? I could do an estimate of proceeds for you to help you determine your bottom line.”
They say: “I can pay $500.00 to have my home on the MLS.” You say: “Great! The MLS is one way to expose your home to agents who are working with buyers. What plans have you made to expose your home to buyers who are not yet working with realtors?” (FSBO response) “Would five or seven o’clock work for us to review how we capture interested buyers?”
They say: “I don’t think realtors are worth their money.” You say: “Selecting a top realtor is a serious and important process. How many realtors have you interviewed for the job of selling your home?” (FSBO response) “Why don’t we meet this evening and I can assist you in writing the key questions to ask every realtor you interview.”
They say: “I know my home better than any realtor.” You say: “I am sure that is true. I am going to be in your neighborhood previewing homes that compare to your home. Knowing your competition can give you a huge advantage. Would you like to join me?” (seller response) “Do you have any other selling concerns I can assist you with?”
They say: “I have a friend in the business who is giving me advice.” You say: “Great! We can make your friend a partner in the process of selling your home and not miss any valuable market time. That way you know you’re getting the best advice. Can you meet tonight?”
They say: “Will you cut your fee in half if you sell the home?” You say: “No. Are you very familiar with how the brokerage commission splits work through the MLS system? (FSBO response) Would you have time to meet tomorrow afternoon or evening?”
They say: “What can you do that I can’t do to sell my home?” You say: “There are several factors that go into selling a home. A seller is responsible for and in control of two of the major factors (condition and price); the location is a given, and the forth factor is the realtor’s responsibility (marketing). Would you have time tomorrow to discuss the four factors?”
They say: “I heard that agents will still show my home if I just have it on the MLS.” You say: “It is true, that some may show it. What arrangements have you made for compensating agents that show your home?” (seller response) “I may have some suggestions for you on how to attract more agents. Are you available tonight to discuss a few options?”
They say: “I do not want unsupervised people in my home.” You say: “You’re right. Security is an important issue. However, as realtors we take several steps to maintain the security and integrity of the home buying process. Are you available this evening to discuss the steps we take to keep homes secure?”
They say: “I sold my last home myself.” You say: “Good for you! What has to happen before you will consider interviewing a top agent who can get your home sold?” (FSBO response) “Can you meet this evening?”
They say: “I just want to try selling it myself for thirty days.” You say: “Ok. I’m curious, if I brought you an offer that was 95% of that amount, how would you proceed?” (seller response) “If I could get you top dollar for your home in the next 30 days, would you list today?” (seller response) “Can you meet this evening to review our plan?”
Two Plus One
On the surface, FSBO objections have a dual focus: brokerage commissions and price of the home. After extensive interviewing or conversation, the peel back process will reveal the underlying concern or the true objection. The one big objection all FSBO sellers have in common is simply: realtor worth (or a lack of understanding of our value.) The challenge is getting the FSBO seller to understand and accept your value. One strategy is a comparison of your efforts (marketing, exposure, response time, access, availability, follow-up, feedback, legal forms, representation, fiduciary duties and negotiations) to their efforts (an ad, Craigslist, maybe MLS, limited web exposure, a sign, a friend in the business, or whatever). Once the comparison is made it should be a simple close.
As realtors, you all compete against each other for listings. In the FSBO arena, your competition is extended beyond realtors to the actual seller. Your competition is the seller. Remember: Do not insult or belittle the seller’s efforts. They believe they can do your job and do it better. Focus your presentation on your worth, your point of difference, the true value you bring to the table. This is the only way to be a true champion in the FSBO arena.