Paths to Conversion

With the right approach, you can turn FSBOs into your biggest fans.

July 15, 2015

The Value of Peace of Mind

Sara Ferguson and her husband, Drew, decided to sell their 750-square-foot, two-bedroom ranch in Spokane, Wash., without the help of a real estate professional. With two young kids, they were ready to trade up to a larger home, and they feared the agent’s commission would cut too much into their proceeds.

But a month after putting their home on the market in April, they hadn't had a single showing. Alex Veselits, a sales associate with Prime Real Estate Group in Spokane, saw their Craigslist ad and called the couple, offering to come by and talk with them about the sale. "My broker, Melissa Murphy, likes to say that FSBOing is like selling a diamond watch on Craigslist as opposed to putting it on the front shelf at Nordstrom," Veselits says. "They had one of the nicest homes in their neighborhood, but they weren't getting the exposure they needed."

The Fergusons agreed to meet with Veselits and his team member, Tony Wacenske, for a consultation. When Veselits saw the recent and extensive renovations the Fergusons had made, he was even more convinced he could help it sell quickly. That night, the couple signed Veselits as their listing agent and Wacenske as their buyer's agent. Three days after the home was listed, a buyer offered the full asking price. The appraisal came in low, so the Fergusons reduced the price to keep the deal on track.

"I think a real estate professional provides a stress relief for the seller," Sara Ferguson says. "When selling yourself, it's all on you. If people aren't coming to your property to see it, it's because you can only do so much with the resources a FSBO has. An agent has so many more avenues for marketing your property and relationships with other agents and buyers. That truly is priceless."

Helping With No Strings Attached

Tracey Marcyan's story of rescuing fledgling FSBOs starts in the same place as Veselits’—on Craigslist. That's where Marcyan, a sales associate with Keller Williams Realty in Tustin, Calif., saw a listing for Ron and Donna Rowell's Orange County home. But Marcyan took a different path to wooing the sellers. Instead of making a formal pitch for their business, she offered to assist their FSBO efforts.

The house was a flip that the Rowells had rehabbed, but after months of trying to sell it themselves, they still hadn't found a buyer. They exhausted last year's busy summer selling season, and as Thanksgiving approached, they feared the holidays would freeze their prospects.

"Tracey felt she could help us avoid the holiday delay," Ron Rowell says.

Marcyan held open houses for the couple when they couldn't themselves and marketed the property to her sphere of influence—all with no listing agreement.

"To me, it was a win-win,” she says. "I am happy for sellers if they can find a buyer on their own. And holding an open house for them gets me in the neighborhood, where I have an opportunity to meet buyers."

Before long, the Rowells decided to list with Marcyan, and two weeks later, the home was in escrow.

"The exposure to other real estate professionals and her contacts were things we didn't have access to,” says Rowell. And that’s not all. "She was attentive to our concerns and gave good advice on how to respond to issues."

Marcyan says staying by the Rowells’ side and not pushing her own agenda persuaded them to sign with her in the end. "I always put sellers’ needs before my need for a commission," she says.

Graham Wood
Executive Editor of Digital Media

Graham Wood is Executive Editor of Digital Media for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at