Tuesday, July 15, 2014
"The key to these relationships is that it's all about cooperation," says Derek Morgan, manager of broker services at ForSaleByOwner.com. "Licensed brokers join together and create a local MLS for the sole purpose of creating a consistent marketplace where sellers can offer homes to buyers," Morgan explains. The only difference with FSBO sellers who list on the MLS is that they pre-pay their agent for specific services.
A Marketplace of Cooperation
Because more than 80 percent of homes sold are listed on the MLS, it makes sense for a by-owner seller to have a presence there — and services like ForSaleByOwner.com make it easy and inexpensive to do so.
"Even when deciding to sell on your own, you have the opportunity to use the MLS provided that you understand it's a marketplace of cooperation," Morgan says. In doing so, the FSBO seller gains access to an additional pool of buyers represented by agents.
By-owner sellers have a responsibility to follow established MLS practices, Morgan emphasizes. In terms of your MLS listing, this means keeping it current to indicate whether your home is "active," "pending," "contingent" or "sold," and ensuring that the list price itself reflects any changes you've made.
Far from undermining a FSBO seller's autonomy, agents perform a valuable service in recommending that prospective buyers look at the listed property, Morgan says. As an added bonus, these are likely to be good leads, since agents are in the business to make money and don't want to waste a seller's time — or their own.
How Agents Funnel Buyers to FSBO Sellers
First off, Morgan reminds by-owner sellers that the benefit of listing on the MLS means you'll reach both types of buyers: those who don't yet have agents and those who have committed to working with one. Keep in mind that 42 percent of buyers look for homes online as a first step, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Although it's possible to sell a home to an unrepresented buyer, the fact that 88 percent of buyers purchase their home through an agent (according to the National Association of Realtors) means that most FSBO sellers will be working with agents at some point.
Morgan says there are two key times when this is especially important:
• When, based on contact information in the MLS listing, the buyer's agent will contact the FSBO seller to arrange for a showing.
• Then, after the showing, when the seller will ask the prospective buyer's agent to let them know when and if an offer will be submitted to the flat-fee broker handling the FSBO listing.
But that's not all a by-owner seller needs to do. "A FSBO seller should manage their buyer leads the same way regardless of whether they're dealing with an agent," Morgan says. "This means collecting contact information and then reaching out after the showing."
Questions to ask prospective buyers and their agents include: When are you looking to buy? How often are you looking? How is your home search going? What type of home are you looking for? Is my home the best you've found so far and are you considering submitting an offer? Or should I cross your name off my list?
"The answers to these questions determine how often you contact them," Morgan says. "And re-contact everybody whenever you update the listing price to see if that increases motivation."
Keep It Professional
The real estate business is built on networking and maintaining relationships, so the vast majority of professionals a FSBO seller meets will be exactly that: professional.
"Still, the by-owner seller needs to be aware that not every agent is going to view their model of selling favorably," Morgan says. "Your decision to sell and show your property yourself might be a new concept to a buyer's agent."
His recommendation is that FSBO sellers focus on answering questions about their property and making sure that prospective buyers and their agents know what your home has to offer.
In the unlikely event that a buyer's agent becomes assertive in his or her dislike for the FSBO process, Morgan says that the seller should stay calm, not allow themselves to be baited and to stay on point.
He also reminds FSBO sellers that they are under no obligation to discuss their relationship with their flat-fee listing broker with a buyer's agent.
You Can Do It
"At the end of the day, a real estate transaction can be easy — even a FSBO," Morgan says. He points to the many resources offered by online services, which are a great guarantee against the unknowns.
"Don’t be intimidated," he says. "Selling a home yourself can be a simple, financially rewarding process. It's simply a matter of following time-tested steps, conducting yourself as professional and realizing that if you've chosen to work with a full-service online service, experts can talk you through any stressful moments."
Read more: The Best Ways to Reach Home Buyers Online