Monday, August 21, 2006

Finding gold in FSBOs

Last week, Dan Volker was the featured speaker on the HouseValues Mastermind Call. This is a twice-monthly call conducted for HouseValues subscribers, in which a successful agent shares their strategies for success. When I hear calls I think have broad value to all real estate agents and Agent CEOs reading this blog, I try to summarize them here.

I had the pleasure of moderating Dan's call, and it was one of the best I've heard all year. Dan has been involved in real estate for more than 18 years and closed over $90 million in his real estate career.

Even as the market continues to shift in many areas of the country, including his, Dan has still closed over $4 million in transactions for 2006. Having earned over $690,000 in gross commissions from his HouseValues leads, Dan explained how mastering the HouseValues system helped him develop his FSBO strategies, earning him an additional $220,000 in gross commissions.

After almost 5 years with HouseValues, Dan has closed $31.5 million in HouseValues transactions, has listed 125 leads and 105 have closed, and currently has 10 active HouseValues-generated listings.

His secret of success? Treat every lead the same. Treat every lead like a $2 million dollar transaction. Even if the lead has a fake name, or isn’t the person listed on the tax records, you just never know if it'll still turn into a transaction (or many down the road).

Some other tips from Dan, relevant to all real estate agents:

* He takes a picture of every prospect property and any FSBOs he finds along the way; creates a flier for the home and includes in the pre-listing packet.
* Every prospect, whether from HouseValues or a FSBO, gets the same high quality pre-listing packet.
* Every buyer is set up to receive listings automatically via email.
* Buyers from open houses are asked to tour the house prior to asking them to sign in; this puts the buyers more at ease, and gives them a better idea of what they are looking for.
* Buyers from open houses are asked if they would like to receive listings via email; if so, Dan gathers criteria and price range, and does not ask for phone numbers at this time.
* Dan trains buyers to drive to properties they like that they see online before actually showing the properties so they can eliminate a lot of needless showings.

Dan's description of his FSBO strategy was particularly fascinating.

FSBO signs are really help wanted signs, he says. He finds FSBOs from classified ads, driving around looking for directional signs, and has even had other FSBOs pass along his package. Web sites for finding FSBOS include:,,, and

When doing hand deliveries to FSBOs, try to go during an open house; they are expecting people and there will be less pressure When calling FSBOs, call on Monday after they have likely had an unproductive open house over the weekend; if you call on Friday, they are confident that they will be selling the property at their upcoming open house. The pre-listing package includes a customized CMA from his company, a cover letter with a list of all the homes he's sold in their area, his resume, and a copy of his marketing plan including Web sites and virtual tour company, color flyer of their home, and a magnet and business card.

The pre-listing package can be found here.