For Sale By Owner Listings: The "Write Way" To List FSBOs (PART I)

This article describes approaches Realtors ® and real estate agents can use to access the lucrative for sale by owner market to boost their own business while providing excellent service to their new clients. This section covers first contact and “courting” the FSBO potential client.

Written by the owner of a Kentucky Virtual Assistance practice, with real estate agents as online marketing clients around the globe. (The author also successfully marketed and sold her own home FSBO-style.)

The “Write Way” To List FSBOs (PART I)

FSBOs are a rich source of immediate business, yet few salespeople bother to
approach this market with any kind of coordinated plan. There is a way however,
the “write way,” which will help you consistently create relationships
with these independent stalwarts resulting in a much higher conversion rate
into listings. Here’s how you do it.

NOTE: This is the first installment in a three-part
series about making and maintaining mutually beneficial contacts with members
of your community in the FSBO market.

First Contact

Determining an owner’s position in the home sale process is imperative
to your ability to forge a relationship, since you need to make your first casual
contact as soon as possible after they decide to place their house on the market.
But, first things first…why do you need a relationship?

FSBO properties comprised nearly 30% of the homes sold in 1994, according
to a report on That’s a sizeable market share for you to
target and is well worth your effort.

My Own Experience

On a personal note, since I sold my own home the last time I moved, I have
insight into the owner’s side of this equation. In my case, the agent
contact I had seemed predatory in nature. One said, “When you get tired
of trying to sell it yourself, give me a call.” This was the first thing
out of his mouth after a quick introduction and the “handing-out-of-the-business-card” ceremony.

Needless to say, I determined on the spot that I would not succumb to hiring
a real estate agent. And even if the unthinkable happened (and I failed to sell
it on my own forcing me to call in hired help) it would most definitely NOT
be that agent, or anyone affiliated with him, his business, or the franchise
he represented. I’m stubborn that way.

Courting the FSBO “Type”

Most folks who decide to sell their own home are just as stubborn/self-sufficient
or they don’t have any idea how complicated the process really is….
or (most probably) both. Other agents approached me, but none of them offered
me what I really needed … information.

To establish a relationship with an owner-seller, you must offer them value
for having an association with you. Initially, they are likely to be suspicious.
It is especially important to give away information and to be concerned with
helping the “I’ll-do-it-myself” type on their own terms. By
doing so, you will give them what they need while establishing yourself as their
best local resource. That’s step one.

Writing your first letter to an FSBO

In your first letter or e-mail contact with them, you should offer non-threatening,
non-demanding, helpful information about how to “gear up” for selling
their home. Some information may repeat what they have already researched on
the web. That’s ok, but if you can offer any information that is specific
to their geographic area, you are establishing yourself as a resource with information
they can’t easily find on their own.

Consider offering standard tips:

  • Preparing your house for showing to potential buyers
  • Determining the best selling price
  • Marketing your own home

Give them a short paragraph of pointers or bulleted checklists on each of these,
or similar topics. Make sure your first communication is completely upbeat.
Be sure to direct them to your website for more detailed information or downloadable
checklists for each topic.

An Example

Dear Mary and John –

Best wishes as you prepare to sell your home. As you probably already know,
the local market is a bit slow at the moment since the interest rates have
started to climb. You may not yet know that First Bank is offering a special
on first-time mortgages for those who qualify. This may help you to assist
your potential buyers. Robert Money at the Main Street branch (123-456-7891)
can send you more information upon request.

There are several things you can do now to prepare for selling your home:

  • Check your “curb appeal” – Be sure you have
    looked at your home as a potential buyer will. Be objective about the condition
    of your lawn, the house itself, and anything that may distract from giving
    the best possible impression. I have a free checklist to help you boost
    your curb appeal, along with other resources on my website
  • Determine the best selling price – Buyers may ask you
    how you determined your selling price. This step is one of the most important
    you will make. It will determine how quickly your home will sell, or if
    it will sell at all. Real estate agents usually conduct a CMA (comparative
    market analysis) for you based on the sales prices of similar homes in your
    neighborhood or a similar local neighborhood. You can do your own research
    to determine a reasonable sales price by visiting the courthouse and researching
    real estate records. I’ve compiled useful information for you ranging
    from contact information for city offices to the particulars of how to do
    your market research. Visit my website for additional
  • Marketing your home – There are several ways to market
    your home including commissioning a professional yard sign, placing classified
    ads in the local paper, distributing flyers and brochures about your home,
    and effectively using “word of mouth” advertising. For free
    pointers and resources for printing and distribution of your materials locally,

If you have any questions, or if I can be of any assistance, please call
me at 1-800-come sell, or e-mail me at

I wish you all the best as you prepare to sell your home,

Joe Agent
Come Sell With Us Real Estate

Thank them for their time and wish them well on the prompt and profitable sale
of their home and encourage them to contact you if they have any questions,
or if you can help them in any way. Do not offer to help them sell their house
and do not offer to help them find a new house – those are reserved for
the second and third contacts.

This first pass should be all giving on your part, it should demonstrate your
knowledge and extend your hand in goodwill and should take place the moment
you know they are planning to sell.

Next month’s column will take the second step in forging a relationship,
which is to provide pointers and information that will begin to raise questions
in the homeowner’s mind about how involved they are willing to become
in the actual work of selling a home.

© Copyright 2003 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft

This November 2003 article appears in the monthly” Word Magic” column
in the newsletter.