Educating FSBOs on Risks of Showings

Showing their own homes may make FSBOs potential crime targets--explain the risks of going it alone and the benefits of working with a real estate professional.

July 1, 2003

When interviewing FSBOs, broker John Veneziano emphasizes something that most brokers shy away from—that homeowners' personal safety is more important than what they can save on commissions. And he wonders why more salespeople don't tell prospects the same thing.

With characteristic New England style (confrontation softened by a caring undertone, as defined by this Texan) he'll ask the FSBO seller, "Are you crazy?"

You may laugh, but it works, he says.

"What is your family worth?" Veneziano will say, "Do you realize that you are going to let strangers into your house? Would you let a gas guy in without an appointment? Would you let a cable guy in? What about the 20 people who are going to ask you to let them in to see your home?

"You put your home in the paper and you get a call, 'I'd like to see your house tomorrow at 2 p.m.' 'No, can't do it then,' you say. 'My wife and I will be at work.' 'Fine, then how about 6 p.m.? 'That will work,' you say,'" baits Veneziano. "Then at 2 p.m. the next day, your house gets broken into."

Or how about this one, he asks. The caller says, “I live in a bad neighborhood, that's why we want to move. Is your neighborhood safe?” You might respond, “Oh, of course it's safe. It's so safe, nobody around here even has an alarm system.’ And then, the nut shows up and puts you and your whole family in the closet while he steals everything in your house."

Or a nice-looking stranger wants to see your house, Veneziano says. “You let him in. Now nobody buys on the first showing so when the stranger asks 'May I take some pictures?’ you think he's interested in the house. Instead he is photographing your motion detector and security pad.’"

Then, nonchalantly, Veneziano, moves in for the kill. "These are just the tricks of the ones who want to rob you, and I won't even go into the ones who want to hurt your wife or children or you. When I don't come home from a showing, my wife knows to call the police. Who knows that you've been showing your house to strangers? Who will call the police for you?"

"I didn't think of that," says the stunned FSBO seller.

"Your home is your last refuge," hammers Veneziano, "When you work with a real estate professional, they bring you real buyers, buyers who have been qualified and are ready to buy. It takes me 60 days to sell a house and that is with the help of 300 other salespeople and their 1,500 buyers. I have more access to buyers than you do."

Softening, he says, "I know you want to save money on commissions, but I can get you more money for your home than you can, because I'm not emotionally attached to the house and my marketing time is still 60 days. We'll qualify the buyers for you, and even then 70 percent can't buy your house unless they sell something first. Did you know that? Then another 11 percent can't afford it, and 15 percent decide to keep renting, and that leaves you with 4 percent who are ready, willing, and able to buy your house. So if I can do all that and get you your highest price, why would you do it yourself?"

"What if I just try it?" hedges the FSBO. "I'll put an ad in the paper, and then if nothing happens, I'll call you."

"Sure it looks easy to put an ad in the paper," allows Veneziano, "but if you look at the advertising, there are 100 ads for this area, and 97 percent are with brokers, 3 percent are with FSBOs. Which would you shop first if you were a serious buyer? The buyers who call you are only shopping FSBOs to save commissions. They think they are getting the fee—the same fee you think you're saving. So they will beat you up on the price. And you may not be able to save much on commissions anyway, because we (salespeople) bring the buyers. So you might as well let us get you what you want for the house and be safe while you are getting it, and you don't have to worry about strangers coming into your house with your wife and kids."

According to Veneziano, safety as a concern works with FSBO sellers because it never occurs to them that anyone would want to do them harm. But it also works because his fervor is genuine.

Safety isn't just a scare tactic to get listings, he says. Veneziano is on a mission. Over the years, he has lost three colleagues who were brutalized or murdered by "buyers." One was raped and strangled, her nude body found off a roadway. Another was shot in the back of the head so that the "buyer" could steal his car. A third left the industry after surviving rape and having her throat cut while showing a vacant home.

"We train our salespeople to be safe, and even they get hurt or killed sometimes by strangers," says Veneziano. "The only security you have left is your house. That's why it is easy for me to tell anyone, 'Don't let people you don't know come in your house.'"

(c) Copyright 2003 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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