Rick Culp On Targeting Open Houses To Land FSBOs

Rick Culp, a Denver real estate agent, says that when he first became an agent, he dealt with the same struggle all new agents encounter: getting solid listings. He tried working with buyers, but even buyers were skeptical of his skillset, since he had no listings. Then, one day, Rick struck gold with his first FSBO.

“I was driving through a neighborhood one day and saw the FSBO sign. I grabbed the flyer, called the guy, asked if I could come over and listed his home. I sold it, and I’ve been hooked on that ever since,” he says.

Though Rick agrees that FSBOs can be considered “low-hanging fruit,” that doesn’t mean agents don’t need a plan — there’s a right and wrong way to approach this kind of seller, and knowing the right way will convert them.

“There’s dialogues; there’s techniques; there’s a lot of things. And those are the things I strive to work at and get better at, since I’m working with that segment of the market,” Rick says.

What’s the best part of listing a FSBO? It’s a special kind of victory — the seller didn’t originally want to work with an agent, but you successfully proved that they do, in fact, need you.

One of Rick’s most effective methods for getting in the door is to attend FSBO open houses. We think his method is smart for a number of reasons. When you attend a FSBO open house:

  1. You don’t have any barriers to entry. Open houses are quite literally “open” to anyone. You don’t need to call ahead of time or set up an appointment before you come over
  2. You can evaluate the property. When you drop by a FSBO open house, you can check out the home and assess its potential value. You can take inventory of any needed improvements or areas of the home you could highlight in your marketing strategy. 
  3. You can establish a relationship with the FSBO when they’re most open to meeting with people. If you approach them in a non-confrontational, hands-off way, you can lay the foundation for working with them now or in the future. 
  4. You can leave marketing materials behind, whether you get to speak with the homeowner or not, thereby establishing your credibility over other agents who might also stop 

FSBO open houses present a great opportunity to grow your business — if you approach them the right way. Consider this your how-to guide to get started.

1. Find out about FSBO open houses in your area.

  • Zillow is a great resource to find out about upcoming FSBO open houses in your area. 
  • From Zillow’s homepage, type in your desired market area in the search bar. 
  • On the following page, filter your results. Under For Sale, uncheck all boxes except the box that says “By Owner.”
  • Under “More,” check the box that says “Must have open house.”
  • You can also search Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for FSBO listings in your area that are advertising open houses.

2. Prepare your materials for the open house.

  • You shouldn’t just blindly show up to a FSBO open house without a clear plan or marketing strategy in place. Research the home ahead of time, put together listing information and tailor a typed or handwritten note for the sellers in the event you don’t get to speak with them. 
  • “I don't go into that open house without all the sales activity,” Rick says. “Try to do a little research on the neighborhood; know what's going on in the neighborhood.”
  • Prepare what you’ll say to the homeowner if and when you do interact, and if possible, practice with a colleague, friend or family member. 
  • “Do your homework, put together a presentation, and be prepared to ‘wow’ the seller,” Rick says.

3. At the open house, establish a connection with the owner. 

  1. When you enter the open house, if there are other buyers speaking to the homeowners, take that time to tour the house and take note of any outstanding features you can bring up when you do speak to them. 
  2. If you are able to speak with the homeowner, Rick suggests the following list of questions to continue the conversation after you’ve introduced yourself:
  • What’s your asking price?
  • What upgrades or updates does the home have?
  • How long have you lived there?
  • What is your timeframe for moving?
  • Have you had any offers?
  • Where are you moving?

The point of these questions is to find out why the FSBO is selling and why they’ve chosen to sell on their own. This allows you to tailor your strategy and overcome any roadblocks to listing with them now or in the future. You can also bring up unique features of their home that you can market to the right buyers.

This is your chance to do an abridged listing presentation and show them the benefits of working with you.

4. If you don’t have a chance to speak with the seller, leave behind your marketing materials.

If the homeowners are busy engaging with potential buyers during the open house, it’s important not to interrupt. If you are able, shake the homeowner’s hand and leave them with any marketing materials you’ve put together.

If you don’t get a chance to introduce yourself, leave your materials somewhere the seller won’t be able to ignore them, like on the steps or a table near the entrance of the home. Leave behind a handwritten note that explains everything you’ve left them and why you think it can help them — this shows you care and put thought into their home sale.

  • If you think the home is underpriced, lead with that and explain to them how you can help them get more money even after your commission has been paid.
  • If their home isn’t staged, offer to give them a free staging consultation to help them improve the showing condition of the home.
  • If you noticed any inexpensive repairs or upgrades that the homeowners could do to get more money for their home, offer to walk through and give them simple renovation ideas.
  • What is your timeframe for moving?
  • If the pictures of their home are low quality, offer to come by and take professional-quality photos. If they question your motivations, explain that you’re offering them a free sample of what you can do to sell their home.

Above all, avoid pushy sales tactics and instead, position yourself as a knowledgeable professional who wants to help them have the most successful sale possible.

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