By Debbie Hanlon

In my last article, we talked about the huge earning potential in the FSBO market and how I used the psychology of selling to develop a system that allowed me tap into it. It was very profitable both in getting actual properties to list as well as a secondary revenue stream from referrals.

Always keep that in mind when servicing a client. They are not just current business but a gateway into future business. That’s why your service must be second to none. Remember that when a client is driving you over the edge. It’s not just them, it’s the other clients you can get from them. That will help stop you from throwing them off a ledge or jumping off it yourself. Now, on to my FSBO system.



So, you’re driving down a street looking cool and wondering where you can possibly find prospective clients. Should you advertise more, you wonder, as you drive by a For Sale By Owner sign? Should you spend more money on radio, you ponder, as you drive by another one? How do I connect with clients, you ask yourself, as you drive down that street?

Stop right there! How many of us drive by those signs and do nothing? How many of us zip past people who are obviously very interested in selling their homes, who are advertising that fact for the entire world to see and do nothing? How many of us drive by telephone numbers printed loud and proud on FSBO signs that will contact us with possible clients? If you count yourself among those people, then you can also count on missing some very low-hanging fruit that can make your bank account very happy.

So, the first step in my FSBO system is to be aware of your surroundings. I remember when I first started, I had a pen and pad on the passenger’s seat and whenever I saw a FSBO sign I jotted down the phone number. It only took a second and gave me a way to contact someone who wanted to sell. I couldn’t let those opportunities pass me by. Today, it’s even easier to capture contact info; you can do so by simply taking a picture of the sign with your cell phone. Yes, they’re for more than just talking on, sending emails on, sending texts on and giving you directions to where you’re going.

When I started out in real estate, I’d dedicate an entire morning once a week to driving around, looking for FSBOs and capturing their contact info. So, the next time you see one of those signs where someone is literally screaming, “Look at me, I want to sell my house and here’s how to get in touch with me”, pull over, point and shoot and go on your merry way. That’s step one. Make it a habit that will make you money.

Once you have the contact info, you must act on it and that’s where most people fall down. They’re too busy, they forget about it or they’re nervous about making a cold call. That contact info sitting in your phone is an opportunity waiting to be seized or wasted. What I do is set aside time to make those calls and I make them. It’s not as hard as your mind would lead you to believe it is. It’s too easy to talk yourself out of doing it, so don’t. Make that call! That’s step two. Make that a habit as well.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem talking. In fact, a lot of them might say my problem is stopping. Still, if you’re shy or if you’re new and haven’t built up your confidence enough to push those numbers, there are things you can do to make the process a lot easier. There are psychology tricks you can employ that will make it so much easier for you to make those cold calls and walk away with their business. There are proven ways around your fear and in my next article we’ll talk about them and how you can get comfortable making those calls that will be making you money in no time.

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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  • Sardool Bhogal

    2 major FSBO companies in ON are Brokerages. It is against the RECO rules to interfere in other brokerage/client contract. Only way to win in my market is if I have a buyer who wants that very house. or Am I missing something in translation when reading your article to gain that listing?

    • Scooter

      Sardool, while you are correct in your statement related to interference with other listing contracts, it’s the one’s that aren’t listed with brokerages that you’d be looking to contact. Enjoy your weekend!

  • Wouldn’t that be prospective clients, or clients with perspective? lol

  • Carolyne in Canada

    I only contacted “live” FSBO’s.” Live? Yes. When I had a real live buyer. A very big likelihood one who might actually “buy.” (According to my blue Rolodex card list. Call the buyer quick.) Sounded like a good possible match

    Like you, I drove the streets. Sometimes even found a new MLS sign not yet in the system.

    Talk about a double-ending :( opportunity.

    Remember when we had to go to a co-listing office to get a key? Sign out the other company’s client’s house key (there was mostly only one key for real estate purposes) and return it promptly after the showing. No one had assistants running around town collecting keys for showing listings.

    How did we do all the things we did? Of course some listings had lock boxes, but certainly not all. It was really a nuisance if the listing was near my trading area but the listing office was in the other end of town.

    Back to FSBO’s: Many agents tried to trick those private sellers into listing by saying they had a buyer, when all that agent wanted was to “list” the house with the hope some other agent would sell it. Some offices even taught their agents to do that.

    I had a real “maybe” would buy buyer. A real one. And I said so. I had a buyer who “might” like to buy that house. No way to promise he “would.” And how I got the listing was by offering to work (back then) FOR the seller (sub-agency) and to legitimize my offer, I had the seller sign a document called an “Agreement to Sell letter.” Expiring in several days or in 72 hours. Not unlike an exclusive listing, but I had no intent to “market the house on MLS or any other way.” And said so. No advertising, no sharing that property. I didn’t ask them to “list” with me.

    And I made arrangements to show the house to my possible buyer only when the seller was home, at the seller’s convenience. But I had a reason for that.

    Right from the beginning of my career I learned that I apparently showed houses differently than other agents did. Extremely thorough. Asked the seller many questions and took notes as the seller showed “me” their “home.” (There’s that magic word again.)

    For starters these FSBO’s were located in areas I knew like the back of my hand. Who built what, when, features the builder had offered, etcetera. That very often impressed the seller. (Most other agents didn’t do that.) I knew how long the seller had owned it, when it last sold and for how much, in what kind of market conditions. (History). Provided the seller with a copy of my charts and graphs and bell curves info for the area location. (Fine tuned to his subdivision.)

    Every property has a history. Check out the history. Gives you something to discuss with the would be seller. (eerk! Sounds like “work?” Definitely!) Anyone remember Teela cards?

    You might have viewed the property during a previous MLS listing. So you will remember how it looked previously at one time (note new upgrade broadloom?) and you can comment on any upgrades or changes that have been made… “Oh my! How that backyard apple tree has grown!”

    Explain to the seller what it is about this property that specifically would appeal to your buyer (real live honest to goodness buyer); what specifically he might like about this particular property. School bus stop right outside the door (not for everyone). But appeals to your buyer.

    Of course there is no guarantee that my buyer will buy it. But back to the showing. I wanted the seller home for a reason. I wanted them to see in person what a good job I was doing.

    And once buyer agency came into our trading area, that removed any fear that the buyer would go behind my back, but in sub-agency I covered that possibly in my “letter.”

    Some agents played games with this process, bringing a friend or relative to show the property to. I never played those games. But I did such a good (and thorough) showing, (building rapport with both the seller and the buyer) I mostly ended up with an MLS listing for the seller if my real live buyer decided against it.

    My buyer was legitimate. The location was right. Would he like the purple paint? Dunno… But that could be changed. The footprint was appealing, along with the location. So there really was a possibility of creating that marriage.

    No one else had approached the seller offering a potential “agreement to sell” letter, stipulating property ID, and that I would get paid how much on closing. Done like dinner.

    Oh! And don’t forget to get written permission in your Agreement to Sell letter to install a “SOLD” sign. No better personal-marketing to the neighbourhood than a Sold-Sign with your name on it.

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Steve Onyebuchi Ezeude

      Interesting piece!

      • Carolyne in Canada

        Thank you, Steve