FSBO Not getting any prospects

48 Replies

I put my home on the market 15 days ago, hired a real estate attorney, and recently paid 500 for MLS. Been listed on MLS for 5 days and I haven't received any calls from agents to have a buyer tour. What am I missing?

I assume you are offering a buyers agent commission? Are your photos nice? Is your area a hot market? Is the house price correct? This time of year less people are looking to buy. Post up your ad and we can give you some tips.

Could be 100 different problems, without all of the information it is hard to say exactly. It could be over priced, your commission offered might be too low, you could have bad photographs, there could be something about the property that decreases it's desirability compared to other nearby properties, and many agents dont like to both with FSBOs because they tend to be very difficult and usually wont close for a variety of reasons.

Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353) and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)

@Russell Brazil thanks for your honesty. I'm offering 2.5% for buyers agent or closing costs for buyers without agent. What type of things makes a FSBO undesireable to work with? I'm ready to get this house under contract

Pictures look good, but are a little dark.  Can they be lightened?  I like to see outdoor pictures during a bright sunny day.  The pictures in your listing are on a cloudy day.  You have 1 picture with snow on the ground.  I would replace that with one showing nice, autumn color.  (Thought: Do you want your prospective buyer thinking "cold" or "nice color"?)

Your price appears somewhat high relative to what has sold in the immediate area recently.  I only did a casual look and the neighboring properties might not be an exact match.  You are listed at $350k with a $260k sale next to you with an additional bedroom and a $335k across the street.  You asking price is the highest in your immediate neighborhood, depending on how those neighborhoods are defined.

I am not at all familiar with the area, your house or your neighbors.  Your price could be perfect.  This is just what I see as a casual glance and examination.

2.5% Buyer commission is a little light in my area of PA. I don't know how it compares to your area. You may want to consider incenting buyer agents more to get them interested in the compensation and in working with a FSBO - a box of chocolates if you are a real estate agent. They don't know if you are reasonable and easy to work with or a monster, but might be willing to find out for 3.5% versus 3% with other listings. Just an idea.

Your listing is brand new. It might not generate a lot of calls right away, especially this time of year. You do have 8 saves on Zillow which could mean there are 8 people interested enough in your property to monitor it. Give it time, especially now that you are in the MLS.

Originally posted by @Muinda Gueston :

I put my home on the market 15 days ago, hired a real estate attorney, and recently paid 500 for MLS. Been listed on MLS for 5 days and I haven't received any calls from agents to have a buyer tour. What am I missing?

I recently sold my first home FSBO so I hope some of my advice is helpful to you. I did not list on the MLS.

I listed the home on Zillow, Trulia, and I had 4 craigslist ads. I also paid for Facebook ads and I listed the home in several Omaha area Buy-Sell-Trade groups on Facebook. I also listed the home here on BiggerPockets in the Marketplace.

I cleaned everything up and mowed the lawn to make it look neat and tidy, even though it needed a little work. I put signs in the yard declaring it was for sale. I took pictures of the house to show it in the best light possible.

Rather than showing it as I received calls, I arranged for an open house on the weekend and told everyone who was interested to come to the open house. I also called, emailed, and told every single person I know that might be interested about the house.

Leading up to the open house I fielded between 50-75 text messages, phone calls, and emails. I also had a couple of people make offers sight unseen. I told everyone that we would accept offers on the day of the open house and that they should come and see the house first. The day of the open house I had probably around 100 people come to see it, and we received multiple offers over asking price. I took 25 copies of a universal Nebraska purchase contract so that people could give us official written offers at the open house. I was interested in closing the deal, so before anyone left, I straight forward asked them "Do you want to put in an offer now?"

Obviously, I believe strongly in using advertising. You should be at least as dedicated as a realtor in selling your home. Post it for sale everywhere, tell everyone, and don't hesitate to spend money doing it. Have an open house. Don't wait on agents to bring you a buyer, go out and find buyers yourself.

Anthony Gayden

    I would hire someone to take pics.
    #1 mistake to make is overpricing your house. You should determine about exactly what it's worth and list it a little below the sweet spot...hopefully leading to bid wars. Ultimately, the only reason houses that are marketed properly don't sell is because they're overpriced. 
    It's more difficult for agents to work with FSBOs than fellow agents. If I was an agent, I would rather deal with another agent when setting up appointments etc. When it's a multiple offer situation homeowners don't always know how to handle that and may not adhere to the same standards as other agents do. But there aren't any agents that will turn down 3%. 

    Originally posted by @Muinda Gueston :

    @Russell Brazil thanks for your honesty. I'm offering 2.5% for buyers agent or closing costs for buyers without agent. What type of things makes a FSBO undesireable to work with? I'm ready to get this house under contract

    Whether right or wrong, agents view working with a FSBO as difficult because the typical FSBO seller has unrealistic expectations on price, property conditions, how to navigate home inspection negotiations, how to get the property to appraise....a buyers agent typically needs to do all of their own work..plus the work the listing agent would typically do.

    One thing that stands out is your photographs are awful.  

    Also while I am looking at the comps, just kind of quickly, your price seems high to me. 2807 BOTANY LN closed at $295k with a $6900 seller subsidy and that looks to be a pretty similar property in similar condition.  12500 STARLIGHT LN closed at $340k with a $10200 seller subsidy and looks to be the same model but in much better condition.  

    Condition against either of those might be right or wrong, because the photography being so bad makes it hard to judge the property.

    Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353) and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)

    @Muinda Gueston - as others had mentioned, photos and price tend to drive getting people to view the property.

    If it was me, I would take the listing off, and wait a week and put it back up with a new price and better pictures. 

    Then specifically for the pictures, do some staging/prepping first. Then have a professional photographer come out. From the photos your home looks in good shape, but the photos to me don't sell it. Here are some ideas of prep work you could do:

    -The biggest issue in the photos is lighting. A professional photographer can fix this easily.

    -Kitchen - put away everything on the counters. Its a great kitchen with a cool back splash, but half the counter top space is taken up with personal items. Putting those in storage will make it seem bigger. Remove the magnets and paper off the fridge.

    -Laundry room, remove all the hangers. And move all the items on the shelves together, face them (like in a grocery store shelf, everything is labels out, neat and in order).

    -Living room area - remove any personal/family photos. Put away kids toys/mats. Open the curtains.

    -Bathrooms, close all the toilet seats. Remove the wash rag/toys in the bathtub. 

    -Bedroom - remove the small circle bedside table and center the bed in the room. 

    -Master bedroom - declutter/remove personal effects from the top of the dressers.

    -Outside, move the car out of the driveway, put the waste bins inside, then take a new picture. Also a professional photographer will frame the shots better. I get you were trying to show the large yard, but the one photo has the house cut off. A professional photographer can frame the shot better. You also used a rear photo that had snow, but the front didn't. Take a rear photo with no snow, and organize/stage the patio. Add a close up photo of the nice outdoor patio.

    If you spend an hour prepping, it will really show through. It will also help with actual showings too.

    @Muinda Gueston Here are two photos as an example. One of a bathroom and one of a kitchen. Notice how I basically removed everything from the counter space and bath. I even removed the shower curtain temp as it was a small bathroom and I wanted the tile surround to show and make it feel bigger. In addition, it was actually really overcast that day, but the photographer used a flash, the light studio to adjust the photos.

    I will agree with most of my colleagues here.Your pictures are horrible and don’t show the property correctly.They are dark and taken with a narrow lens (probably a smartphone) and cut off half the rooms making them look smaller and cramped.Toilet lids should be down in pictures and you should be able to see the entire bathroom.You need a professional photographer to get that job done right.You’re most likely overpriced and making your competition look better to buyers.Also,in your Craigslist add you said only prequalified buyers may see the property.That’s a huge mistake and it’s going to cost you.Agents like myself insist on previewing the homes first to decide if our buyers will want to look at it.According to your ad,we can’t so we will bypass your property and move on to the properties that do cooperate with us.Quite frankly, unless our buyers accidentally stumble upon your property on their own,it’s not going to be shown to them for a while,if ever.The agents have no incentive to work with you.At 2.5% and no fellow agent listing the property to work with,you will be at the bottom of every agent’s list of potential properties to show.

    Brandon Battle

      98% of the time is overpriced.

      If it is price correctly, pictures or 2.5% commissions are minor things.

      During this hot market, Buyer agents will still bring you buyers even with 2.5% commissions and FSBO and same pictures, but lower price.

      The key is the price it correctly.

      @Muinda Gueston I agree that the photos are really really bad. It's hard to get an idea of the property at all because they are so dark. Have professional photos taken. It's worth every penny. As @Andrew Kerr mentioned, you should declutter and de-personalize the space. You want to have buyers envision themselves living there, not feel like they are walking into someone else's home. 

      Ariel Vincent, Real Estate Agent in CA (#01997922 )

        Most places have a bidding war now.

        A listing at the right price for sale is a precious opportunity for all buyers. Again, it must be price correctly.

        If the price is right, nowadays, many buyers make offer unseen.

        5 days is still a short period of time.
        If you are not in a hurry selling it, if you don’t mind wait for a few months, wait for the market to be caught up. The price will be caught up in this hot market.

        If you have no patience and cannot wait for a few months to sell it, lower the price today, it definitely would help.

        @Ariel Vincent @Mary L. @Andrew Kerr @Brandon Battle  Everyone, thank you for that feedback pics are bad and my ad is a turnoff to prospective agents. I will use this advice and make appropriate changes. Regarding pricing I had a comp done and my attorney stated that I could get between 347-359k for it so that’s why I priced it that way. Any other feedback is appreciated.

        An attorney is not a good source for pricing.  Pricing is always something of a crap shoot.   In the end it will come down to what the buyer's lender's appraiser says and that's very dependent on exactly what comps they choose.   If you were listing with an agent then I'd recommend interviewing at least three and having them all give you an opinion on the proper listing price.  An agent's opinion is not just a guess, but is backed up by an analysis of recent sales and comparable properties on the market.  They would also give you data about how sales are going in your area so you have some expectation of how long this is going to take.

        Have you looked at other properties for sale in your area?  If not, you need to.  Jump on realtor.com or any local site and look at everything that's possibly comparable.

        This is a bad time of year.  Right before the holidays on top of being winter.

        One of the bathrooms (tub with tile surround) looks really dated.  That looks like a 50's tub and faucet.  As a buyer, that makes me wonder if everything is old.  The kitchen looks nice, though.   Other rooms are a mix.  You have a lot of personal objects in the pictures, including that "cover" (not sure what it is) on one toilet.  Get this stuff out of your pictures.  

        Some of your colors are very personalized.  When selling, best to stick with neutrals.  I'd also remove that geometric rug I see in some pictures.

        The shades are unlevel in several pictures. Are the broken?  (That's the question you create in the viewer's mind.)  In one of the bathroom pictures there is a tag? sticking up next to the toilet.  Or is that a piece of TP?  The door latch plate in that same picture is worn and seems to be not quite straight.  There's a rat's nest of hangers in the laundry room.  You don't have to removed everything (look at some of the nearby listings that have stuff in their picture), but make sure what's in the pictures looks neat.

        Trim the hedges and the weeds in the driveway.  Curb appeal for your property is week and these things aren't helping.  You'll see what I mean when you look at listings for other properties.  The front and rear pictures are clearly taken in different seasons (leaves on trees vs. no leaves).  That makes me wonder which is the recent one and why you used an old picture for the other one.

        Your price might be in the right ball park if this house were in perfect condition.  And it may be pretty good.  But its definitely lived in and not just recently fixed up.  Look at 12505 Starlight Ln.  Its nearby, seems similar but appears to be recently rehabbed throughout and is $20K less than you.  Compare some of the details between your house and that one.  Granite vs. Formica.  Undermount sink with commercial style faucet.  That are a couple of other nearby properties that are somewhat similar for $279 and $289.

        Jon Holdman

          Host an open house this weekend. Good luck.

          @Muinda Gueston , One thing that I am not sure if anyone mentioned is the order of the photos. I work with buyers that will look on Craigslist and if the thumbnail does not intrigue the buyer then they are not even going to click on the property. Although the kitchen does look like it is in decent shape it is not a good angle and buyers like to see the front of the home. They are conditioned to that being their initial impression of a property and if you had a good picture taken of the front of your home and had it as the thumbnail then it would probably result in a little more interest. 

          That being said if the home is priced more competitively it will come up in a lot more searches. That is always going to be the biggest issue. Additionally, you are highly dependent on buyer's agents to bring you deals. 2.5% does seem low when it comes to working with FSBOs. Although it may not seem like a huge difference, working with an attorney and a homeowner as opposed to another agent can be significantly more difficult and it does detract a lot of buyer's agents. It looks like you have a nice home. You just need to increase your marketing budget (better photos) and possibly reach out to agents directly. In Portland if there is a FSBO on the market that is priced well then there will be 50 agents calling you the first couple days it is listed. If you do not see any activity after that, seriously consider reducing your price. I know that we are all pretty much saying the same thing. But that's because the methods that @Brian Pulaski , @Russell Brazil , @James Mc Ree , @Anthony Gayden , @John W. , @Andrew Kerr , @Brandon Battle , @Mary L., and @Ariel Vincent are saying is what works! I would especially consider doing what Anthony did and contact your friends and family to help further advertise your home for sale. Whatever you can do to get top dollar you need to do. Good luck to you! 

          Jacob Wathen, Real Estate Agent in OR (#201222796)

            @Muinda Gueston , Glad to see that you are receptive to our advice! Starting fresh is a great idea. 

            Jacob Wathen, Real Estate Agent in OR (#201222796)

              Take the Udemy class on Photography for Real Estate professionals. Your photos need a wide angle lens, much better lighting, better composition. This $10 class is full of good ideas to take better photos of ANY property.

              As a Realtor I can tell you that working with FSBO’s isn’t always pleasant especially when we’re trained to take control over the deals. I’d personally don’t have any problems with working with fsbos but most agents hate seeing fsbos on the MLS because they feel that all the yearly fees we paid to our local MLS board fsbos shouldn’t be able to be listed on the MLS. Also I’d don’t know what your experience is but most fsbos never sold a property on their own before and are clueless about what takes place from start to finish and agents wine up doing double the work for half the paid.

              Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

              Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

              Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

              • Actionable advice for getting started,
              • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
              • Learn how to get started with or without money,
              • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
              • And a LOT more.

              Lock We hate spam just as much as you

              Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

              Basic membership is free, forever.