Understanding the Mindset of FSBO Sellers

As a real estate agent, you already understand the challenges facing “For Sale By Owners.” Not only do their homes fail to sell quickly and for less money than they otherwise could, but the people who take this approach often wind up over their heads when confronted with the mountains of paperwork and legalese that licensed realtors deal with regularly.

So if selling a home is such a challenge for FSBO sellers, signing up these people as clients should be as easy as pointing out the fatal flaws in the process and asking them to sign on the dotted line – right?
Obviously, things aren’t quite that simple. Approaching a FSBO seller with an attitude of, “I’m the agent, and you’re doing things wrong,” isn’t going to score you any brownie points with potential clients. Instead, it’s vital that you understand why FSBO sellers behave the way they do, as well as how your skill and expertise can help them to both satisfy the personal objectives that led them to attempt a sale on their own and actually get their houses sold.

In my experience, FSBO sellers tend to come in two groups:

  • The money savers, and
  • The “DIY-ers.”

By and large, FSBO sellers are listing their homes on their own in order to save money over traditional realtor commissions. The perception that FSBO selling is a better solution than working with a real estate agent can come from a number of different sources, including:


  • Sellers who have been burned in the past by lackluster agents
  • Sellers who have been advised by others that agents are lazy and don’t add value to the home selling process
  • “Zero budget” scenarios that require sellers to scrape every possible penny out of their sales

Regardless of the root cause of the desire to sell one’s home on one’s own, FSBOs have one thing in common – the desire to save money. These sellers tend to be analytical in nature and generally value cold, hard numbers over some of the softer benefits that an experienced agent brings to the table.

As a result, you need to tailor your approach to focus primarily on the financial benefits of working with an experienced agent. Using questions like, “If I could get you the net result you’re looking for, would you consider working with me?” or, “If you and I could agree on a commission that’s acceptable to you, would you be willing to talk to me about it?” in your FSBO scripts will help potential clients to recognize that you’re more interested in meeting their money-saving needs than in taking advantage of their situation.

Alternatively, you might encounter some FSBO sellers who believe that they have the skills needed to sell homes on their own – whether this is due to past careers in sales or simply because of the “you can do it” mindset that’s encouraged by home selling shows on HGTV or the DIY network.

The sellers who hold this mindset are confident in their ability to sell their homes on their own, even if this faux confidence isn’t based at all in reality. Consequently, you – as an agent – must be very careful not to insinuate that they aren’t capable of carrying out the admittedly-complex process of home-selling on their own. Approaching this type of seller with a, “you don’t know what you’re doing” mentality risks offending the DIY seller, making it highly unlikely that you’ll turn him or her into a client.

Instead, demonstrate that you can be a helpful ally in the home selling process – not an outright threat to your seller’s carefully-constructed dominant mindset. Rather than saying, “Here’s what you need to do,” try something like, “Here’s how I can help you get to your desired end result faster.” By supporting – rather than steam-rolling – you allow FSBOs to feel as if they’re still in control of the process, while still helping them to close their sales as quickly as possible.

Really, the more you work with FSBO sellers, the more you’ll begin to understand their mindset – and the better you’ll be able to position the benefits of signing on to your service. So don’t be afraid to take advantage of this lucrative selling opportunity. FSBO sellers don’t bite – as long as you respect the mindsets that have led them to this home selling approach in the first place! When you treat them as if you are collaborating with them – rather than plotting against them – you’ll gain their trust and, more often than not, earn their business.

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