people looking at floor plans

For Sale by Owner: The Basics

We’ve devoted much of this month’s blog content to the value of prospecting For Sale by Owner, FSBOs. We’ve covered:

Today, we’re going to review the basics of FSBO strategy, from both the perspective of an experienced agent, and a relatively new agent (at least new to regular prospecting).


Experienced agents know that FSBOs are motivated to sell, yet also understand that it often takes a special, subtle approach to building rapport with FSBO prospects. Here are a few things that experienced agents know about working with FSBOs:

  • Be persistent with follow-up. It doesn’t take long for many FSBOs to get frustrated by the process of selling their own home, which is why it’s important to keep your name top-of-mind with them.
  • Take excellent notes. Good notes during an initial call can yield the kind of relevant questions that keeps the FSBO prospect engaged. If you find out that your FSBO prospect is having an open house, you’ll want to call the next day to determine if it was a success, and, if not, how you might help with strategy for the next open house
  • Validate their decision. FSBOs are often unsure that they’ve made the right decision to sell on their own. You can build trust by affirming their decision: “Great idea to sell on your I think you’ll have a lot of success. And if you need any help, let me know.” In other words, FSBOs need to come to their own conclusion that they need an agent to sell quickly, and at the best price.
  • Guide, don’t force, the process. Effective, open-ended questions can uncover the homeowner’s motivation. If the FSBO says “I’m going this to save money,” you might respond with: “That makes total sense, but let me ask, what does saving money look like to you?”


If you’re new to the industry and/or have started to prospect on a regular basis, you might like to know that FSBOs are, in general, easier to engage than someone sitting on an expired listing. Expireds can be frustrated and angry, especially if they’re being inundated with calls from agents who all seem to have the “right strategy” to sell their home.

FSBOs, on the other hand, are likely to be more relaxed in the belief they will save lots of money by selling on their own. They might be friendlier and open to dialogue because they haven’t had enough time to get frustrated at the process.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re beginning to prospect FSBOs:

  • Keep the hard sell to a minimum at first: Persistent follow up is important. But, the homeowner might interpret overly-aggressive selling to mean that they made the wrong decision by selling on their own.
  • Check your eagerness. Newer agents can often by over-eager, assuming that it might be easier to get a listing from a FSBO. But that attitude can backfire.
  • Deliver value: Use your initial conversations to build rapport and trust. Perhaps reinforce the importance of curb appeal, and suggest landscapers you know who can help them transform their front yard. If you support their efforts in the short-term, they are more likely to remember you when they’ve “hit the wall” on their own selling efforts.
  • Be a good listener. Don’t talk too much when you make that first contact. Your instinct might be to do as much “selling” as possible. Instead, ask open-ended questions. Then, listen carefully to uncover the FSBOs motivations and fears.

Finally, if you want to improve your opportunities with FSBO prospects, consider the following:

  • Research reveals that 60% of homeowners don’t trust real estate agents. Which means, from that first call on, you need to focus on building trust and confidence with your FSBO prospect.
  • 90% of FSBOs want to save on by not having to pay a real estate agents commission. You can build trust and rapport by simply affirming their decision. “I have no doubt that you can sell on your own.”  Allow them time to see what it’s like to sell on their own. When the time is right, you can ask: “If I could help you sell your home and make more money, would you be open to that?” Or: “If there would be a financial benefit to working with me, wouldn’t you at least want to hear what I had to say?” 
  • Use the pronoun “we” to reinforce the fact that you are partners in selling their home. “When we sell your home, do you have somewhere you want to move?” Or: “If you feel comfortable that working with me is in your best financial interest, would you consider hiring me?”
  • Make sure your tonality sounds empathetic, enthusiastic and positive. Never lecture a FSBO. Also, practice how to mirror back what they’ve said, so they know they’ve been heard.
  • Think of ways you can provide value even if it doesn’t’ lead to an immediate listing:
    • Help them understand the paperwork
    • Suggest real estate-related vendors, such as mortgage brokers home inspectors, etc.
    • Offer to help them with a seller’s disclosure form.
    • Suggest interesting ways to stage their home for an open house

It takes FSBOs about a month to fully appreciate how difficult and time-consuming it is to sell their own home. With a patient, and value-added approach, you can set yourself up to be the “go-to agent” when the prospect finally says: “I’m ready to pay you a commission!”

Learn more about Vulcan7’s, industry-leading FSBO leads HERE.

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