A Real Estate Discussion Blog


My Experience As Being A Name On A For Sale By Owner List

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my home for sale on Zillow.  This is the only place I posted it, I did not put it in the MLS or on any other website.  Apparently my name got placed on a For Sale By Owner list, and to date I have received at least 15 calls from Realtors. 

I do not mind the calls themselves, I totally understand that this is a method Realtors use to get business.  But let me tell what I do mind.  (My point of posting this is not to be mean, but give a homeowner's point of view, and hopefully this will help with calling techniques)

- About 13 of the calls started with the person asking "if you were to sell, where would you move?".  Some people even blurted out this question before saying hello (seriously).  Because I heard this line so many times, it sounded very scripted and eventually just sounded like a canned sales pitch or the person was reading off a list of question supplied by the list service. 

- Not one person has emailed me (my preferred method of communication) or even mailed me any literature.  I assume this is because you would have actually had to go to Zillow to do this, as the email address wasn't supplied on the provided list.  Had anyone done this, they would have stood out, at least a little. 

- I told every person that called, that I was a Realtor.  In IL you are required to say 'agent owned' in your home's marketing , no matter whether you are selling thru your brokerage or not, which I clearly stated in my marketing text on Zillow.  This was news to every single person that called.  In fact one person literally yelled at me for being not stating this (I had).  I told everyone that Zillow was the only place I had posted my home, only one person was even familiar with this site.  All this said was that no one had actually researched my home online and they were just calling down a list. 

- No one gave me any sort of information that was interesting about themselves or my neighborhood or my house.  No stats, no personal bio as to why I should use them.  I would have liked to hear something like "I sold a home three blocks down from you a few months ago" or "I was just in your neighborhood with buyers last weekend" or "oh, I love that (store/restaurant/park) near your home".  Something interesting and personal to get the conversation going would have been nice.

- ONE person said "I am working with some out of town buyers this weekend and I would love to show them your home, can I come preview it".  I know from seminars that this is a technique taught, but maybe he was serious, I'll listen.  I told him I too was a Realtor, but I would happily show him my home.  He ended by saying he'll call me next week to set up a time for the buyers to come by.  He never called, he didn't have buyers.  I felt lied to.   

- Another person called (opening with the line in bullet one) and the conversation turned toward price.  Your home is overpriced she said.  I know I said, I am not aggressively selling.  She then preceded to very snappily tell me how it would never sell at this price and basically made me feel stupid for trying. 

- One person opened with the statement that he was conducting a For Sale By Owner survey.  I huge weakness for surveys, so sure, I would love to participate.  Guess what, it wasn't a survey... sales pitch of questions asked from a list.  The survey ended around the time that I told him I too was a Realtor.  To his credit, he then shifted and asked if I knew of anyone that might be in the market.  This was good, but here is what he asked-  Do you know anyone looking to buy in the next 7-10 days?  Hmmm, I don't think I'll ever know someone who will buy a home in 10 days.  That's a pretty short window I said.  His answer was, I don't really care about people who are looking within the next 2 years, that could be anyone.  (my translation, I don't plan on being in the business two years from now).   Further, why would I refer to you?  I don't know anything about you (he hadn't even given me his name).

I have more, but I'll stop because this post is getting long.  Point is, that not a single call I got would have made me list with anyone who tried.  Some people were flat out rude to me.  Others were very nice, but you could tell they were reading off a script and the minute they went off the script, the uncertainty of what to say next really came thru in their voice.  Others just sounded clueless the whole time we were talking. 

If you are going to work from a list, I think you could get so much further if you spend a little time researching the homeowner's situation.  Of course you won't be able to bang through a list as fast, but I believe the quality of the call will be much higher and hopefully results in a higher closing percentage. 

My overall experience of getting calls was very eye opening as to how the general public is treated by real estate professionals, and it was generally not good.  I hope this post helps people who call For Sale By Owners to up the quality of the conversation they are having as they are also representing the industry as a whole with each call. 




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Comment balloon 111 commentsSara Bonert • November 03 2008 02:45PM


This is very interesting and somewhat humorous at the same time. I definitely know what not to say. Thanks for sharing!!!

Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara. Oh my goodness!! I am so sorry you had to go through that. Yikes. I never call, but always email information AFTER I have looked everywhere online to see where they have posted their house. This is very eye opening.

Posted by delete account over 11 years ago


This is a great blog.  I usually don't read too many blogs, but this one caught my attention.  This real-life feedback will help not only the realtors I work with, but it will help all other realtors get a better idea of how to better approach someone selling their home as a FSBO.  I hope you won't mind me sharing your feedback with some of the agents I work with.

My best regards,

Nicholas Ellsworth

Posted by Nicholas Ellsworth (North American Title Co.) over 11 years ago

Ouch!  Thank you for sharing this valuable information.  I think it's the phone.  People give out way too much information on the phone to proper strangers.  People can become very bold on the phone, more so than in person.  I think its the anonymity.  Think about telemarketers - they must have the skin of a rhino but they keep plugging away even though their script doesn't work.  We're professionals and even though we're competing for an even smaller piece of the pie, we need to maintain an air of service, not self-service.  Great post.

Posted by Alyce Martin, Albuquerque - THE Place To Be! (The Realty Group, LLC) over 11 years ago

Team Honeycutt- Humorous, yet sad at the same time....

Pamela- Doing this will set you lightyears ahead of the people who called me.

Nicholas - Please do share!

Alyce- I totally agree with you about it just being the phone in general.  I know I personally am just not great on the phone in general, which is why I rarely cold call.  I could NEVER be a tele sales person. I am overly nice when they call just because I can't imagine having their job!

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

Why Zillow and Why Not the MLS?

Posted by Michael A. Caruso (Surterre Properties) over 11 years ago

Michael - Good question, because I my situation is a little different than the average FSBO.  I work at Zillow, so I put my house there basically to use the site.  I am not aggressive selling, if I were, definitely would want it in the mls. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara,

I worked for a Title Company for several years, and in 1994 I decided to sell my home myself. An agent, who had screamed at me for faxing her documents to her "and now they were all over the floor" and admonished me to NEVER fax her anything again, saw my FSBO ad. She called and left the sweetest voice mail at my home ( not realizing I was the same moron she had screamed at last week).  I wouldn't have given that agent one penny, even she had 20 buyers lined up at my door!  I just had to write, to say, that any person might end up to be a potential customer or FSBO, and all people should be treated professionally and with due respect.

Posted by Mary Douglas over 11 years ago

Hi Sara,

Hate to think other FSBOs have this experience. Please get the name of the service that's harvesting these contact details so that we can shut them down!

Posted by David Gibbons (Zillow.com) over 11 years ago

I asked one woman how she got my name, and she said a service called Land Voice?

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

What a smart thing for you to do!  And you've learned some very insightful information.  Thanks so much for sharing :)

Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Thanks for the post Sara,
There are a lot of really bad Realtors out there who give us all a bad name

Posted by Eric Egeland, SFR, e-PRO, CDPE (RE/MAX SUBURBAN) over 11 years ago

That is interesting. What a strange phenomenon.

Posted by Brian Belcher, Charlotte Realtor (RE/MAX Executive) over 11 years ago

Hey, fellow Chicagoan!

Will we see you at Grant Park tomorrow night?

Thanks for sharing your candid experiences, since most Real Estate Practitioners rarely get feedback from cold prospects they call, and your reaction to them is important.

I'm floored how few really take the time to prepare, and how a few are actually rude and accusatory.

I do a lot of FSBO business - and I'm glad to hear I don't fall into any of your categories.

Hey, if you're ever in Lincoln Square (Western & Wilson), let me know - I'll put a pot of coffee on!


Posted by Dean Moss, Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team (Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL) over 11 years ago

We all need to play buyer/seller occasionally to really get a feel for how we are precieved.  I'm sure the other agents did not know how they came off on the phone...  And most do use a script...  Great test of the system... good luck .

Posted by Diane Daley (Caron's Gateway Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Dean- Grant Park is going to be crazy!!  No, I will not be there...  After reading your blog regularly, there is no doubt in my mind that you would  come close to falling into these catagories.  I love Lincoln Square!

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

Very interesting comments...  I never cold call, but I DO check out Zillow from time to time.  I love to browse the homeowners "Make Me Move" listings - always overpriced. What I do is actually email them with what I believe to be a more realistic "dream" price.  Kind of a mini-CMA and I often get replies - mostly sheepish (I know, just thought I'd give it a whirl, lol), but I feel they appreciate my reaching out.  I'm still amazed at the number of Realtors who are not utilizing the power of the internet and are still using "canned" marketing.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Carolyn E. Durkin, Realtor - CBR - Scituate, MA Real Estate (William Raveis Real Estate) over 11 years ago

That is a never before published expose' of the big z and how helpful they are to fsbos.

Posted by Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker, Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA (http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com) over 11 years ago

Sounds to me like Zillow has a problem of being "harvested". 

This is also the biggest issue I've ever had with contacting FSBO's.  You can not really say too much that another agent isn't going to say.

There are a lot of agents out there that treat this strictly as a numbers game too...call 15 FSBOs, list 1 house...do that five times and make a sale/get paid.  I have a hard time separating the PERSON with the home from the home. 

Didn't realize you were a REALTOR as well, working for Zillow.

Posted by Ron Tarvin, Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095 (Residential, Investment properties, rehab projects, property management, luxury homes, new construction!) over 11 years ago

Scary and funny. There are a lot of hacks out there right now. I could never go after FSBOs.

Posted by Steven Beam, Parker Colorado Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Parker Colorado Real Estate.) over 11 years ago


Great post. The way I look at is this. Anyone who is going through the effort to post a Make Me Move listing...has thought about moving. There they are plain as day...waiting for a good offer or a savvy agent who can coach them on what their options may be able to convert these hopeful sellers. Agents must realize this is a starting point.

I placed my home in the MAKE ME MOVE Category almost a year ago. My home has has had 919 views ( not bad). I follow Zillow fairly closely to see what consumers are looking to sell. Those that are selling FSBO, I offer to write a FREE Blog posting about their home. So far so good I've picked up two sellers this way. Here is a sample of the posting. FREE Blog Post

Question? How does one go about removing the old information that seller had previous to actually Listing with a Realtor?

Posted by Peggy James Erick and Company ( Exit 1st Choice Realty) Woodbrid over 11 years ago

Ron- A cease and desist is being sent to the company today.  Just an FYI, I have been in the real estate space for about 10 years and at Zillow for 2.  They two are totally unrelated.  I just happened to have my license when I took the job. 

Carolyn- I think this is a GREAT approach.  You are demonstrating expertise in a non-intrusive way.  I would think if you consistently touched base with this group, eventually when they were ready to get serious and sell, you would have a leg up over others. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara,   Two points:  One, your excellent post should help those callers.  Two, way too many agents going to mini sales courses and then polluting the market with ill advised calls !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 11 years ago

Yikes, I have never called an FSBOs.  I have sent some mailers out though.  The fact is, I don't like aggressive or pushy people claling me, that is why I don't call FSBOs.  I hang up on people who are aggressive and pushy.  I will only talk to someone if I got to them.  It is a matter of respect.  And I try and be very respectful in this business.  I do fairly well for being new!

Posted by Portsmouth NH Real Estate Agent - Rebecca Skane, Realtor®, e-PRO® (Keller Williams Coastal Realty) over 11 years ago

Oh Sara,

How embarassing! try to remember that for the dozen agents that behaved so badly, there are hundreds of others who are better.  Unfortunately, these types get the most attention...

Posted by Laurie Logan, South Central WI Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Broker Associate) over 11 years ago

Thanks Sara. We'll get this stopped. Given their disregard for these sellers' privacy, I certainly wouldn't sign up as a customer - I wonder who they're selling those contact details to.  

Posted by David Gibbons (Zillow.com) over 11 years ago

Peggy- GREAT idea, I hadn't heard that one before.  To answer your question (How does one go about removing the old information that seller had previous to actually Listing with a Realtor?)  Agent info will trump anything a FSBO writes to the site, whethere that be manually or thru a feed.  So for example, if I had hired a Coldwell Banker agent, and my agent entered my home into their system, the next day the feed processes, the agent info would be written over anything I had done and all contacts about the home would go to the agent.

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara - First of all, thanks for sharing your experience and also, I use and like the Zillow website for posting my listings, etc. To help explain what I know about Landvoice: LandVoice is a company that sells lists of FSBOs and emails them to subscribing agents. They also sell Expired listing lists, they also have training all the time that agents can be a part of. The info from the Landvoice list many times is incomplete re address, neighborhood, etc. But that does not mean that agents can't be effectively conversational when they call you to inquire about how they might assist - and they are being really ineffective based on what you describe. I think the Active Rain member agents are probably a higher caliber in professionalism - and your experience is why! We are concerned about our reputations and strive for the best image. Thanks for reminding us what the public does value.

Posted by Diane Kawell (Windermere Real Estate / West Campus) over 11 years ago

Diane- Thanks, I had never heard of this company before.  100% that a higher caliber of Agents in the AR network!!!  No doubt. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

They are based out of Utah, and I am a subscriber for the Expired list - promoted for years by the real estate trainer, Mike Ferry.

Posted by Diane Kawell (Windermere Real Estate / West Campus) over 11 years ago

Sara ~ You sound surprised by these actions? Sadly, very few real estate agents do research before making FSBO calls. I know several agents that survive in real estate 100% by making calls to FSBOs. The key for these agents to call a LOT of people. The trade off of quantity for quality is the result.

Ironically, I receive the same type of calls from Internet marketers that promise me to be "at the top of search engines" or "#1 in Google". I assure you that their poorly research calls are equally as insulting and annoying as the calls that you received.

Posted by Ryan Martin, Bellingham Commercial RE Broker (Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.) over 11 years ago

Sara, the whole trolling scene has got to be disheartening, I refuse to do it. I blog, mail, advertise and market to my area everyday, cold calling is not part of the picture. Good luck selling your home, and where will you be moving (lol).

Posted by Steve Loynd, 800-926-5653, White Mountains NH ( Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., ) over 11 years ago

Sara - Your post caught my eye and I thought I would read it. I found it to be quite interesting. I will say I think your experience is from new Realtors starting out in the business. I know because I started out calling FSBOs when I first started. I used every script I could get my hands on and called as many people as I could. It's a numbers thing. I did have some success but it was kind of rough going. If Realtors are going to call FSBOs they should begin each call by identifying them-self and that they are a Realtor. This way the Realtor comes across as a professional.

Now my question is would this had been a different topic if you didn't receive any calls from any Realtors? 


Ken Asher

Posted by Ken Asher (Cherry Creek Properties (719) 930-7817) over 11 years ago

Sara, are you on the Federal Government's Do Not Contact list?  I ask because it seems that 80-90% of the FSBO's I don't call and almost 100% of the Expired listings are on this list.  I got my last listing from e mailing somebody on DNC and when she did give me permission to call her, I told her to threaten each agent who called with an 11,000 fine.  That finally stopped them.

Posted by Rick Beal (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 11 years ago

It sounds like you accidentally got thrown into a major research project.  Hopefully your knowledge will help professionals in the field learn to talk to potential clients as if they are friends and not just money in their pocket or a waste of time.  I have to say, you are a very good writer.  I read the entire blog, and could have continued if you had written more, thank you for the entertainment and the education at the same time :)

Posted by Kim Zweiger over 11 years ago

Interesting. I would never call a home owner, especially a FSBO - if I didn't have any valuable information for them. Even if they previewed other homes on the block this would be interesting conversation for the homeowner as to what their neighbors home looked like and invited to take you to view it for comparison. But since you are a Realtor you have probably already done this, but the caller doesn't know. I would also contact the homeowner through their preferred contact - such as via email, phone call or mail.

Good points in your blog. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Johanna Roy, The Name Friends Recommend (Realty ONE Group Choice) over 11 years ago

Rick- That's a good question, and better answered by RE Pros than me. 

Yes, I am on the list.  My understanding is that if you have buyers that could help the FSBO, (thus the I would like to preview your home for potential buyers statement), then you calling based on action that the FSBO orginally took when they posted their home.  "Buyers" can be very loosely defined.  But I don't think you can just call to solicit.  Does anyone know the right answer to this?  It is a very good question.

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

The way FSBO's are approached teaches you the level of talent the listing agents have, FSBO's are a great farm if you know how to farm them, otherwise you can embarass yourself as many has done in your case

Posted by James Engel, KW Beverly Hills (Keller Williams Realty Beverly Hills) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara,

Maybe I'm not understanding this...were you trying to sell hoping someone would buy it at your price or were you just experimenting by using Zillow to see what the outcome would be but really not serious.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

Sara- That is correct as you have stated.  However most homeowners have that figured out by now because most agents go for the listing right away and those mysterious buyers disappear. 

Posted by Rick Beal (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 11 years ago

Sara... this is very interesting that they didn't read the ad and then suprised that you are a Realtor.

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) over 11 years ago


Great post.. I don't know what's worse... the sales tactics used when agents get ahold of these lists or the companies selling these lists.... or the sales managers that teach these tactics to their new agents... or the trainers that teach the numbers game...

Or... the "sales" agents that still do this in this day and age of real estate?

No wonder why the public's opinion of Real Estate agents is right in line with used car sales people...

Posted by Paul Francis, Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes (Francis Group Real Estate) over 11 years ago

I gather from your description that these are Mike Ferry scripts.

Posted by Jared Wangsgard over 11 years ago


By the way... from what I remember with Illinois Real Estate licensing laws the "I have a buyer line" and would like to preview your home is a very, very dangerous line to use in Illinois if in fact you do not have buyers and are only trying to obtain a listing... therefore misleading the home seller.


Posted by Paul Francis, Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes (Francis Group Real Estate) over 11 years ago

I can appreciate you sharing this, Sounds like they pulled out all the stops. I call all the area FSBOs every week and they tell me some of the same things, I have a buyer and if you list today I can get em over there is always my favorite. I just ask people if they truly want to sell can I share my expertise with them and see if we can work together for there benefit, if not thanks and NEXT.

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) over 11 years ago

Sara - It sounds like someone had a Real Estate agent reject seminar and everyone that went called you - LOL I can believe all that B.S - Why are you not on the do not call registry? You must get a lot of sales calls.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 11 years ago

I have avoided FSBO calls because I do not want to be one of these people. Of course, if all the calls were THIS bad, maybe I should. It wouldn't be hard to shine in this crowd.  Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Brandon Weber (Weber Property Group) over 11 years ago

Sara, great post!  I think that so many FSBO's don't understand ahead of time that they become major Realtor bait - and usually the best agents aren't the ones who call to harass them!  Sounds like you got some real winners!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 11 years ago

I can see how scripts can be useful but I personally do not use them, I think it's always better to be yourself.  Sorry you had to deal with that and thanks for sharing!

Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE) over 11 years ago

Sara, great post! You definitely gave me a good feel for what NOT to do. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Kristen Wahl, CBR (Re/Max Plus) over 11 years ago

I know an agent that was served with a NOD and had a similar experience.  I feel so bad for consumers sometimes.

Posted by Melina Tomson, Principal Broker/Owner, M.S. (Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon) over 11 years ago

Great posting there, Sara.  A lot of our agents have lost touch with reality when it comes to FSBO's.  I am another one of those agents who feels that this stuff needs to be REQUIRED TRAINING just like Ethics classes are.  It actually should be incorporated into the Ethics courses. 

Posted by Celina Gleason (AgentOwned Realty) over 11 years ago

Very enlightening

Posted by Ann over 11 years ago

Sara - Wow !  That is an eye opener.  No wonder real estate agents can have a negative perception in the eye of the public !  It is amazing that they even bothered calling...   In any event, if there were not bad agents, than we would not look as good as we do !! : )  Even still, that should not happen but that is how we look at it sometimes.  It is nice when the competitiion is basically non-existent.

Posted by The Somers Team, Delivering Real Estate Happiness (The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia) over 11 years ago

Wow, this is interesting to read.  I have never called someone off a list, in fact I'm not even familiar with these lists and where they come from.  I prefer e-mail too so I don't think I would blindly call someone with no reason.  Some agents do not do our profession justice.

Posted by Jenn Neumann Deer, Surfside Beach Real Estate (RE/MAX Southern Shores) over 11 years ago

Those poor agents. I hate scripts, for that reason. I don't call FSBO's. If I see one that excites me, I'll send them my prelisting via email, if available. If I do have a buyer that may be interested, I'll show. I would never mislead a homeowner....Trust is so important.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, Huntsville AL MLS (Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group)) over 11 years ago

Yikes!  A very sad commentary.  And we wonder why we get a bad image sometimes.

Posted by Kathy Batterton, TeamWork makes the Dream Work! (RE/MAX Infinity CDPE, E-PRO, GRI) over 11 years ago


It is good to know that if we do try and work FSBO's and are half way articulate then we are ahead of the game.

Posted by Brenda Harmon (Century 21 Beal, Inc College Station, Texas) over 11 years ago

I hate that I have buyers line. In ten years I have never thought to use that once, unless it was absolutely true.

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) over 11 years ago

I absolutely loved your post - it truly made me laugh out loud!!    I work in the mortgage financing industry and often people I meet say HEY, how can I get into selling mortgages......I always say, its all about selling.  If you cannot sell, learn to talk to people and actually CARE about the person you are meeting, this business is not for you.  All the textbooks and training courses in the world, cannot always teach you these things.

Elizabeth Blair, Mortgage Edge



Posted by Elizabeth Blair over 11 years ago

Sara - what an eye opener to what many sellers go through if they try to sell on their own or if their listing expires. It is insulting to anyone, much less a realtor who has expertise beyond the consumer. We have not targeted expireds or unrepresented sellers.

I have heard that line in a sales course about where would you move - never as the lead in but part of an ongoing conversation with a potential listing. I suppose you could call it a 'survey' and maybe that's the way the other person approached it. Oh, and a buyer in 7-10 days? What do they think we're selling, tickets to the football game?

This is a perfect example of why 80% are out of the business within the first few years and why most realtors are out of the business a year before they realize it. Sounds like these people are already out and don't know it.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 11 years ago

Thank you for the enlightening blog Sara!!  I have been an agent for less than a year, and today I had my first FSBO (or former FSBO) closing.  My clients were awesome!!  The Golden Rule still holds true--treat others the way you would like to be treated! :)

Best of luck to you on the sale of your home!!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 11 years ago

Great post Sara. I don't like scripts and I find it hard to believe that those who teach agents to use them are held in such high esteem. 

One needs to become familar with the details of the real estate business and develop conversational skills.  Then, it's easy.  Just converse and, depending on the flow of the conversation, use the relevant info from your storehouse of RE info.

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

It's funny how zillow is always taking jabs at Reatlors & how they perform.

By the way, why did you not list this on the MLS? Where you hoping to prove some sort of point?

Making this a public blog is cute.

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

Great post Sara. I don't like scripts and I find it hard to believe that those who teach agents to use them are held in such high esteem. 

One needs to become familar with the details of the real estate business and develop conversational skills.  Then, it's easy.  Just converse and, depending on the flow of the conversation, use the relevant info from your storehouse of RE info.

Sorry for unidentified comment above.  Your topic got my attention before I signed in.

Posted by Richard Riley, CDPE, I.R.E.S. (RE/MAX Properties SW) over 11 years ago

Sara- too funny but also sad that this is how we are seen.  I do not do a lot of calling for this reason- I know fsbo's are inundated with calls.  I have started dropping off notecards in the mail, handwritten, with a business card attached.  A couple of reasons to use a Realtor and my info.  The cold call scripts just make sellers seem stupid.  I have heard a few who are experts, but, that's not me.  Thanks for the insight.

Posted by Tina Allen (Exit Realty Tri-County) over 11 years ago


You didn't realize it? That's the funniest part. 25%, maybe 40% layoffs 1 quarter, who knows.....

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago


she and her friends love to bash Realtors. Sad thing is that she is one. That should also be "enlightening."

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

I am always fascinated to hear the experience of people on the receiving end of Realtor's FSBO calls.  From what I've learned, the majority of realtors are intent on insulting people who they hope to win over as clients... not a very effective prospecting tool in my opinion.  Thanks for sharing your experience Sara.  I hope it will encourage all of us to remember that the public's image of real estate professionals is a function of their personal experience of agents... that is, of us.

Posted by Thomas McCormack (Resources Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Sarah Ive called and converted many a FSBO and know firsthand how hard they can be to work with or rejecting an agent outright especially if they had worked with an agent previously and never got any offers or just had a bad agent. I agree with you that agents should research who they are calling and their homes details before they call and at least be able to speak with the seller a little more intelligently once they know what they are trying to sell! If they do they might be rewarded!

Posted by Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate (SDW Realty of Cape Cod) over 11 years ago

I think there is some great tips here, and they apply to my industry.  I hate sales calls and refuse to make the.  Nobody likes to receive them either.  This is one of the best posts I have read on this site so far!  Thank  You!!

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

You have done what I feel every Realtor should do. They should put themselves in the shoes of a FSBO. I operate a private sale company and I know that many of my customers are very annoyed by the number of calls from agents.

It did not take me long in this business to find out that saving commission is not the number one reason more owners are trying the For Sale By Owner route. You said: My overall experience of getting calls was very eye opening as to how the general public is treated by real estate professionals, and it was generally not good. Your experience proves it.

Posted by D H over 11 years ago

Very enlightening being on the other end of the phone, thanks for you input

Posted by Michael Eisenberg, Bellingham Real Estate Guy (eXp Realty) over 11 years ago

Sara, this is very interesting, but not at all unexpected. It is interesting to see what our 'competition' is doing though - thanks for the post.

Posted by Lisa Friedman, Central New Jersey Real Estate (Alliance Realtors) over 11 years ago

I'm sorry none of the good ones called you...because there are plenty of professionals out there!  You should've called an agent in the first place :)

Posted by Darla Jensen (Edina Realty) over 11 years ago

I find it difficult to believe that so many licensed agents fail to support their own profession and go "for sale by owner" to save the commission.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Oh my.  What an eye opener.  I love that you have had the opportunity to witness them from the homeowner's point of view.  At the same time, how scary to hear how you have been treated.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 11 years ago

Not shocked.  I had a property expire that I had listed my name for the courtesy call.  I was getting loads of calls from agents that obviously didn't look at the rest of the listing... since my name was all over it. 

Some of my peers kind of suck at being good neighbors.

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 11 years ago

Great post! It reminds me of when I had my home for sale as a FSBO also...I got a call from one of our areas top "Listing" Brokers...he was smooth...he had his polished stuff all shiny....I can see where some will fall for it and many do....when he said "So will you work with me if I bring you a buyer!!?...I said SURE...you betcha.....I will pay you 3% when you bring the Qualified Buyer...how's that?? If you need anymore details its on the MLS....that ended the conversation....I did learn a little bit also...There are some that are very Smooth...some that are rude....and some that should probably go back to waiting those tables....not that there is anything wrong with that!! We need good waiters and waitresses....

Very eye opening experience....and from the way it sounds very similar!


Posted by Richard Goates, Broker 01251781 (Apex California Realty) over 11 years ago

Hi Sara, thanks for the post!  I am just getting started in Active Rain and right now it is a bit overwhelming.  I love all the content and information - terrific!  I so appreciate your post - because I work with so many real estate agents that fit the descriptions you gave.  I think when they are not working in the "choose me" mode they sometimes forget that they are dealing with other human beings? Not sure why, real good for all of us to hear though, loved it!!

Posted by Judith Cozad over 11 years ago

Hi Sara, Thanks for sharing what things are like on the homebuyers side.  If you list it on the mls for a week, then it will expire and you can do a follow up post! ;)  Cheers, Harley

Posted by Harley Ramsey, Chatsworth, CA Real Estate (Keller Williams) over 11 years ago

Great post! Thanks for giving us some perspective. On one hand I don't like that agents like that are out there giving us (other agents) a bad name...on the other, simply being honest and pleasant is enough to set yourself apart from other agents!

Posted by Damon Botticelli, Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate (Silver State Realty & Investments) over 11 years ago

Sara-the same thing happened to me, but as soon as I said I'm a realtor, too, they pretty much lost interest and would hang up-so much for camaraderie!

Posted by Lisa Schlitz, Realtor - Wellington, Florida Homes 561-214-3216 (Home Run Real Estate, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Well, that's kind of scary to know your information is so readily available.  We live and learn.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 11 years ago

They yelled at you!  Yelling in not a good practice in a need to work together environment, See I live in a small town where we have to be nice to one another or we will wind up sitting next to them in church. So you say please and thank you always even if you are mad. 

Thanks for the post

Posted by Sandra McCarty, Sandy McCarty your Relocation agent for Iowa (Keller Williams ) over 11 years ago

That sounds like a really awful experience for you, but, I'm confused. When you listed your property did you give permission to have you contact information sold to a third party? If not then I think that the reprehensible actions are on the part of whoever sold the list!

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

This shows why 5% of the Realtors sell 95% of the properties! There are alot of amateurs out there!

Posted by Caren Wallace, Portland Caren Real Estate (Premier Property Group LLC) over 11 years ago


I appreciate the FSBO insight.  I actively pursue FSBOs, and your comments have opened my eyes as to the methods I should be using (and should not using be for that matter).

I appreciate the head's up, and I am now going to take a deep look at me FSBO prospecting methods.

Thanks again!

Posted by Nathan Fay over 11 years ago

Sara--Thanks for the insight.  Those are very good examples of why agents have a bad name in the public's eye.  Not long ago, I was meeting with a FSBO and during our meeting, she got a call from an agent.  He was talking so loud, I could hear the entire conversation.  He really talked down to her and at one point, she told him to bring her some buyers.  He told her he wouldn't bring her a buyer unless she got the listing!  After she hung up, I asked her why she was so nice to him and her response was "I need a buyer and I don't want to turn anyone down."  I hope all agents read your blog and reflect on how they are handling FSBOs.

Posted by Lisa Clanin (Keller Williams Realty) over 11 years ago

You have GOT to be kidding. A no time agent with a full time job ( can't sell real estate ) that lacks faith in our industry enough not to even list it on MLS AND overprices the property enough to waste everyones time. This type of "Realtor" is the bane of our existence. Escrow your license & stick with Zillow, I read they just laid off 25% of their workforce.

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

Just want to be clear, and response to a few of the anonymous commenters here, and to answer Neil's question.  I put my home on Zillow because I work there, I wanted to use the site.  It indeed is overpriced (by a lot, to the point where I don't expect anyone to take it seriously) because I am not serious about moving.  If I were serious, I most definitely would put it in the MLS (among other things) and I know the exact Realtor I would hire to do the job (not me). 

Thanks for the responses everyone!  I have absolute faith in the industry, support it 100%, and know that this treatment is not the norm. I think I just got on a bad list. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 11 years ago

GREAT JOB! These are the reason's it is hard for FSBO's who need help to trust any Realtor. Hopefully , you have shaken some people to know how not to insult FSBOS

Posted by Mindy over 11 years ago

Laraine - Sara's not allowed to consider leaving Zillow :-) But I definitely agree with you that she'd be a fabulous trainer. You hit the nail on the head - it is the Realtors that are "truly interested in helping" that seem to be most succesful and they're probably not buying these lists. 

Posted by David Gibbons (Zillow.com) over 11 years ago

Great post...I absolutely hate sales calls and will usually not answer the phone...so when I'm trying to market, I often mail something out.

Posted by Sonja Adams (Samson Proprties) over 11 years ago

But what a great way to find out what is actually being done by agents.  And you provided us agents with a few great tips.  I agree you might consider a career in Sales Training.

Posted by Sherry Hindmarsh (Pflugerville Realtor, Re/Max Greater Austin) over 11 years ago

I never bother FSBOs anymore. They will call me when they are ready!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Firstly I did not read all your comments, so if I repeat myself, forgive me. What a great post. I agree, there are a lot of HACKS out there. I think that most of them will be working at the mall this holiday season and then not renew their license in the new year. No loss!


Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) over 11 years ago

I love this post!!! What a great way to learn how others handle FSBO's, note to myself don't be stupid like those agents. I am gonna have to try this. I will post my home on Craigs List and see what kind of responce I get.

Posted by Nelya Calev (John L Scott) over 11 years ago

Ouch! It's horrible that some people just have NO expeience in building a relationship... yikes! It sucks that you had such a bad experience with your home sale. Relationship builing is definitely something Realtors should get trained on.

In the Realtors defense, we are always trying to find the most efficient way to generate business in this tough market... and believe me, after so many "no's" and "I'm not interested," keeping a positive attitude can become very hard. Everything sounds so scripted because we actually get trained by a handful of trainers and learn the same concepts. Can you imagine a bunch of Realtors stumbling over their words because they have no idea what to say? That's rejection waiting to happen.


Posted by Susan Park (EXIT Real Estate Group) over 11 years ago

Hi, Sara,

It is so unfortunate that how public see some of us as dishonest, rude, don't know what we are doing but want to get a fat pay check.  But I agree it does happen.  This industry is about words of mouth, people will talk no matter is good or bad, it is a choice for us to decide if we want the good or the bad.  Sara, good luck in selling your house and I like your blog.


Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

I got you:)

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

Thanks for telling us all this.  How else would we know?  I usually don't call the unrepresented sellers, unless I want to show the property, but I always introduce myself first.  When I tell them I'm a Realtor, I then ask if they still want to talk to me, as a joke, to break the ice.  They usually do.  I actually did convert a FSBO to a listing once, and he honestly said he chose me because I wasn't a "pushy bitch".

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) over 11 years ago

Boy oh Boy!!!, We have been working FSBO's and Expired's, this is great training material, I totally get the home owners view now.  It never occured to me that alot of  the agents calling were completely just going for the numbers.  I understand it alot better now and will pass this on to my colleges to make sure we are at least in the top 5% when we call.  Thanks For the post.  Brady

Posted by Brady Howard over 11 years ago

Hi Sara, A few years back I too was trying to sell my home by owner in Chicago. I did get a few calls from Realtors and was suprised by what they would say. They would talk down to my husband and I and make us feel like an idiot for trying to do it on our own. A very nice Realtor did call us after seeing our sign on the front lawn. She did all of her homework BEFORE calling us. She complimented us on our desire to sell on our own and provided us with a few tips. When we realized we could not do this on our own, she was the first Realtor we called. Why? Because she talked to us, not down to us. Was very helpful and SHE DID HER HOMEWORK before she called. When Realtors make these cold calls to FSBO they should keep in mind that the seller may come to them if they no longer feel they can do it on their own.

Posted by Belinda O'Brien Elegant Stager New Lenox, IL over 11 years ago

How many real buyer calls did you get?  I think this is the reason why people hire a Realtor eventually because they don't want to deal with it anymore!

Not saying it's right or wrong.  I personally don't care for scripted used car sales tactics :)

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 11 years ago

How sad, how truly sad.  I will say that what you experenced is part of the reason that 5% of the REALTORS do about 95% of the business in most markets.  Most REALTORS just don't know what they are doing.

Posted by New Jersey Real Estate James Boyer Morris, Essex & Union County NJ Realtor (RE/MAX Properties Unlimited, Real Estate) over 11 years ago

As a general rule, most people would like to think you care about them and are competent in your profession.   No one likes to feel like a another number.

Posted by Laura Sellers, www.AuburnOpelikaALRealEstate.com (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Preferred Real Estate, Inc.; www.AuburnOpelikaALRealEstate.com) over 11 years ago

I have done the same thing with the same response as your blog.  Best of luck up there in the Windy City.  Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.  Have a Great Day Selling!

Posted by Tim Ludemann over 11 years ago

Very interesting that so many agents used the same lines.   Even more interesting that approximately 90 agents commented on this post and they all hate to call people.

I think I'll start calling on FSBO's if nobody else wants to do it. :)

Posted by Amanda Evans, Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas (DFW Living) over 11 years ago

Calling FSBOs is one of the best way to get listing. Just don't push them. They will come to you anyway.

Posted by Ira Vaxman about 11 years ago

When I started I used those scripts and made a lot of money. i moved away from the scripts and the income dropped for a period of time. If you approach a private sale you have to offer value . great article

Posted by Carl Stars (Sutton Group About Town Realty ) almost 11 years ago