Where's the Action?
Your for sale by owner (fsbo) home isn't selling. Here are five rules every seller needs to follow.
In 10 years of showing homes, I've listened closely to buyers and watched sellers make the same mistakes.
But you don't have to.
You'll stare down the home buyers with confidence when you get these 5 things right.
Rule #1 - Accommodate Every Showing Request. Always.
You Can't Sell Your Home if You Don't Get People in Your Home
Typically, a buyer will send me a list of three or four homes they want to see then I call the seller's Realtor to set appointments.
If the seller can't accommodate or suggests a different time, it's usually dropped from the list, and we see the other three. This is especially true if there are competing (similar) listings or if it was lower on the buyer's "must-see" list to start with.
Occasionally we get back around to it, and occasionally we buy another first.
So Play Their Game
You need to do everything you can to make the appointment convenient for the buyer, even if that means leaving work or punching a hole in your Saturday plans.
Buyers want to see homes on their schedule; they don't care about you right now. Unless your home is a rare find, you're just pictures on the internet. There's no emotional attachment.
When that phone rings, answer it with a smile on your face; people can feel a smile through the phone. Act like their call is the absolute best thing that's happened today and that you'd bend over backward for them.
When people are grateful, they do nice things in return. Advantage you when it comes to negotiating.
Remember, they're excited and likely nervous about making the call. When they get the courage up and you "reject" them by suggesting an appointment convenient only to you, you've lost your edge.
Your buyer might not be who you'd expect.
I've been working with buyers for a long time and learned they usually don't know what they want until they see it.
They might be on the fence based on a false assumption about your neighbourhood or style of home. If they find you less than accommodating, you're dropped from the list.
Be friendly and helpful. Get them over; they might love it.
Rule #2 - Don't Follow Buyers Around Pointing out Closets
Buyers Already Know What Closets Are
You're charged up and want to sell, sell, sell! The buyers arrive, and you follow them around, pointing out every feature.
(Really) bad idea.
When you hover, people feel uncomfortable. When people feel uncomfortable, they want to leave.
Your goal is to keep them there as long as you can. By doing this, you give them a chance to open up. When they do, listen carefully. Realtors call this qualifying, and you need to qualify anyone looking at your home. Find out if there are any obstacles in the way. Obstacles (fears) can often be overcome.
If you chase your buyers away because you're making them nervous, you blew it.
A Better Plan
Step outside for 15 minutes and let the buyers relax, look around and enjoy your home.
When you sense they are close to done, go back in and start a discussion in the kitchen. Now's the time to get your selling points in and tell them a little bit about yourself. Always tell them a little bit about yourself; it shows you have nothing to hide.
Buyers worry that sellers are trying to hide something. Also, don't try to hide something :)
Never disagree with buyers.
For example, if they say a bedroom feels small, say something like, "that's what we thought when we bought the home, but we were happy to discover there was more than enough room."
Rule #3 - Make Sure Your Home is Clean. Like Really Clean.
Swiffer the Crap Out of It
You wouldn’t put your car on Kijiji without throwing the McDonald’s bags out of the back seat and wiping the dash. This applies to your house unless you don't care how much it sells for.
So it's all hands on deck. Wash the windows, wipe the cabinets, clean the fridge - you get the idea.
People are Nosey
They will open drawers and take a peek in the pantry. Don’t give them anything to look at.
You're moving anyway. Rent a storage bin for the good stuff, take your bowling trophies to Value Village and take the console T.V. to the dump. Buyers will show their appreciation by making a better offer, and your partner will show their appreciation by baking a cake. Or something like that.
People buy a home because of how it makes them feel. If it makes them feel gross, you lose; if it makes them feel great, you win!
Rule #4 -Price it to Sell it
Remember, you're trying to sell it.
Here are a few thoughts.
You Can't Sell a $100 bill for $110
Buyers coming to view your home have usually seen the competition and recognize immediately if the price is fair. If they sense you're way over-priced, they assume you're trying to rip them off.
A seller's temptation to try a number above market value is real, we're all trying to do the best we can, but it usually backfires.
Understand that buyers aren't easily fooled. If they feel insulted, they move on, and you usually don't get a second chance. A price drop later rarely brings them back.
If The Price Seems High, Buyers Expect More
When buyers find a listing priced on the high side, they still come see it, but they're packing a different attitude.
If your home is 30k more than surrounding homes, there needs to be something special about it. When the buyer arrives to discover it looks the same as the rest, you've disappointed them, and they leave with a negative feeling. They think you tried to trick them.
Buyers need to feel good about your home. Turn them off, and they won't come back.
When You Set a Fair Price Buyers Notice
Now you've created the spark.
Anyone can take pictures, list their home on a FSBO website, and show somebody around. The challenge lies in getting the buyers to make the offer. They're going it alone (no Realtor to advise or assure) and fear the big mistake.
Fear of the big mistake, or the desire to not look stupid, can be a more powerful motivator than the reward of a great decision.
If your price is high, you handed them an easy reason to pass. When your price is tempting, they are tempted.
Now you've replaced the fear of making the big mistake with the fear of missing out. The fear of missing out to another buyer creates the urgency required to bring an offer.
Pricing is Both an Art and a Science
There is no blue book value for homes (someone asked me that once but he worked at a car dealership). Every home is unique. They vary widely in condition, and some have a broader appeal than others.
If you are using homes currently listed on MLS remember these are asking prices or what the homeowner hopes to get. What they get is a different story. Most listed homes sell in the range of 10-15k less than the list price, depending on how well priced it was to begin with, mind you, so factor this in when determining your list price.
You should go to open houses in the area. It gives you a first-hand look at what buyers are seeing when shopping.
Be competitive. You are competing with other homes for sale in your area and price range.
Finally, if you have to "gut" the price to make a buyer notice and get an offer on the table, it might make more sense to ask 10K more for the house and have it listed on MLS. You'll net out close to the same and won't have the uncertainty of a DIY sale.
Location, location, location! You may have heard this.
I'd like to offer a different one: location, condition, and price. These are the three most important factors when trying to sell your home.
The first one, location, can't be changed. You're stuck with it.
The second one, condition, can (and should) be improved by painting, cleaning and making small repairs. Keep in mind that you should never do a major renovation of any kind because you won't get your money back. So, for that reason, condition can be changed, but only to a certain extent.
That leaves us with the third one on the list, price. Price is the only factor you can reasonably control.
All homes sell for the right price, regardless of location or condition.
Rule #5 - Eliminate the Fear Factor
They're Buying a Home Not a Sweater; They Have a Lot on Their Mind Right Now
In my opinion, the number one reason FSBO's fail isn't a result of anything they've done wrong. It falls apart with the buyers. Most buyers don't, or won't, pursue aggressively because they don't know what to do next. So they do nothing.
An interested buyer may have looked at your house and loved it, talked about it all the way home, thought about it all night in bed, and then sometime between breakfast and lunch, they lost that lovin' feeling. Once the love is gone, it rarely comes back.
Why would this happen?
Because they had no idea what to do next. Should I get a lawyer? How much should I offer...is it even a good price? What about an inspection, I should get an inspection...how do I do that? If I write an offer, do I have to sit in front of the seller and negotiate? Oh, man...
So What Can You Do About It?
You NEED to write down (and keep in a safe place) their name, phone number, and email address. Then, you need to call them the next day and again later in the week. Give them a chance to get past their objections and fears. "Why don't you pop by again?" "I'd love to help you get an inspection." "I've spoken with a lawyer, and all the paperwork is here."
Show them you have nothing to hide.
If you wave to them in the driveway and don't have their contact info, it's the last time you'll see them.
It's not a big ask to have them provide their name, number, email address and tell you where they are in the process (just starting, looking for some time, have a home to sell first, etc.)
Another question you need to ask is, "have you been to the bank yet?"
If asking these kinds of questions makes you uncomfortable, maybe selling by owner isn't for you.
Remember, buyers always need to be qualified. If they won't provide their contact information or tell you if they've been to the bank yet, it usually means they aren't serious buyers. You're looking for a serious buyer.
I'll Leave You With This...
I'm a Realtor, and by necessity a marketer. Not only a marketer of homes for sale, but a marketer of my services and I'd love to hear what you have to say, feedback helps me get better. Send me your thoughts in a text or email to brighten my day.