Top Agent FSBO Conversion Plan
Most agents, at some point, make an effort to convert FSBOs to Listings. But more often than not, they give up after getting abused, maligned, demeaned, cussed-out, and hung-up on. That’s unfortunate, because more than 90% of For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes are eventually listed with an agent. That means converting FSBOS to listings truly is a lucrative opportunity, and many top agents have learned that there’s a better way to do it.
We spoke to several of our top producing real estate clients and asked them what they are doing to convert FSBOs, in addition to their custom farm marketing. The tactics they shared comprise this golden 5-touch FSBO Conversion Plan, which we sincerely hope you will put into action.
After FSBO Fatigue grinds these sellers to desperation, the vast majority finally face a humbling reality: a buyer has driven past their home dozens of time – but in the back seat of a Realtor’s car. So now Mr. & Mrs. Seller will have to decide whom to call. By putting in to practice a good FSBO Conversion Plan, you can raise the odds substantially that you’ll be the agent who gets the call and closes the listing.
But first, let’s take a look at whom we’re dealing with.
FSBOs Sellers: arrogant penny-pinchers?
Not exactly. As for the “penny pinching,” most just do a simple calculation: if they save 5-to-7% on, say, their $300,000 home, they keep $15,000 to $21,000, and that’s big money. If all they need to do is put a sign out front and wait for the buyer to show up, that’s worth it. It’s not about being a ridiculously thrifty person; to them, it just seems like a good business decision.
Arrogant? We don’t think so either; rather, most just aren’t aware of all the work that’s involved and the skills that are needed to successfully sell a home. The ordeal doesn’t become painful until after they decide to go it alone. Like staging, marketing, showings, inspections, appraisal issues, and negotiations. If they’re lucky or in a very hot market, the phone calls will come with scores of probing, often surprising, questions. Then they get pushed into showings at inconvenient times when you can bet the kids are screaming, the dog is barking, and the sink is full of dishes.
During the showing these unsuspecting homeowners get to hear the criticisms from strangers walking around their home like they had a right to, telling each other how tacky is that sofa and how ‘80s are vertical blinds and how the place really didn’t have any curb appeal in the first place. The FSBOs didn’t anticipate any of this, never heard of “curb appeal,” and thought that since their cousin was a real estate agent it must be really easy. So FSBO sellers aren’t arrogant about being able to handle a home sale, but usually quite naïve. How dare those strangers bad-mouth our house! Yes, it’s very personal.
Personal experience with a FSBO Flub
A few years ago, I thought that I knew so much about real estate that I’d sell my own home by myself. At this point I was not clinically insane, just on the way. How tough could it be for me who actually knew a lawyer AND a title agent to sell my own home FSBO! And I also knew what “curb appeal” meant. So up went the sign and in went the classified ads. This should be a cakewalk.
I kept score: I got 23 voice mails from realtors who said they could sell my house fast and for top dollar and 7 form letters from realtors that said they could sell my house fast and for top dollar. I took 11 calls from realtors who said, get ready, they could sell my house fast and for top dollar. I also got a call from a family who just moved here from Boise and wondered if I could do seller financing, and two other calls that said it was too expensive even though I put the price in the ad. I called my realtor and signed up gleefully.
As completely unproductive as this experience was, it was well worth it. I now knew first-hand why FSBOs resented realtors – it was all those messages and calls that said the SAME THING! I learned what agents most certainly should NOT do, and the strategies shared by top agents mirror this sentiment 100%.
Top Agent FSBO Conversion Plan
There’s a few steps to follow and you’ll have to spend a few bucks and a little bit of time. You will find that FSBO conversion occurs when you least expect it, so you won’t go through all the steps all the time.
Step One: Within a week of the FSBO entering the market:
Drop off a “Let me lend a hand” gift bag. Several of these steps include gift bags, so stock up on large-size gift bags that match the color of your brand. Always use the same color bag for a prospect, so they see you are a professional when it comes to brand awareness and marketing.
- Quart-size bottles of Windex and Mr. Clean
- A big pack of painter’s rags
- Hand-written a note on your company stationary
DO NOT include a Business Card! If you hand-write the note on personal stationary with a company letterhead, they will figure out who you are. Also, do not put the letter in an envelope – just fold it text-side out, and stick it among the bottles.
Your note should say something like, “I know how much work goes into prepping your house for the market, so I hope these little things are useful for you or your cleaning crew. Sorry to see you leave the neighborhood, but best wishes on your next home.”
Please remember, you’re dealing with someone who’s received a barrage of Realtor calls and letters, who perhaps has a bad attitude toward agents, so NO SELLING, NO PITCHING! Use a large, grocery-size gift bag and hang it on the front door knob. ALWAYS use the same color bag and the same letterhead. This consistency also shows you’re a tenacious marketer.
Step Two: Four days later:
Deliver a “Curb Appeal” gift bag.
- 3 yard waste bags from Lowe’s or Home Depot.
- Another hand-written note, with your name/number on letterhead, no envelope, NO business card.
This time, write the note about how curb appeal is the number one influence on a buyer’s decision, as well as a buyer’s first impression online AND in person. If you have teenage children or know some neighborhood high-schoolers you can hire inexpensively, offer to have two helpers come by the following Saturday at a specific time to help with the yardwork for one hour, such as raking the lawn and flower beds.
Ask them to text if it is NOT OK for the kids to come by during the chosen time slot. You should drop off the kids (always in a pair, and with cell phones, for safety), stay within close range, and pick them up an hour later. You’re still not ready to initiate a conversation.
Step Three: Five days later:
The “Break Time” gift bag.
- Cookies or crackers.
- Nuts or popcorn.
- A few bottles of juice or soda.
- Third hand-written note, in exactly the same form as before.
In your note, talk about how important it is not to let their home sale become overwhelming, to be sure to take a break and enjoy what they have accomplished so far – “hang in there, it’s gonna pay off!”
Step Four: Three days later:
The “Open House” gift bag.
If the FSBO still hasn’t been sold by this point, this is a good time begin the “let me help” conversation.
- A Market Analysis summary sheet.
- Generic Open House sign.
- Open House Tip Sheet.
- Fourth hand-written note.
The idea of this fourth touch-point is to give pointers on running an Open House, and also to let them know that you’re here to help. On the note, talk about how open houses are few and far between these days, so holding one can really make an impression. Explain that especially as a FSBO seller it may help boost interest if they conduct one (hint = they will not want to).
Do NOT run a full CMA, just a one-pager that recommends what their house should sell for. The Tip Sheet should be exhaustive, to let them know what you would do if you were going to run it.
Step Five: Three days later:
If you get all the way to this Step without a conversation or a call from the homeowner, now is the time to call them. Simply ask if they’d like to meet to review where they’re at in the sales funnel so you, the realtor, might contribute any other information that might be useful.
The investment pays off
This entire process can cost upwards of $100, and for this reason very few agents have attempted something similar. You will be boosted so far above the millions of other agents calling and calling with the exact same pitch. You will not get them all – but you will get some.
FSBOs aside, if you are interested in a unique and powerful way to farm your area for listings, check out the 12-page custom publication used by top agents. It’s become known as a “secret sauce” for developing and expanding market dominance.
Good luck and, most of all, have fun!
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