A Test of Wills: The Battle Cards Are Set — Who Will Win? David vs. Goliath.


Article By: Neil O’Donnell

That’s the image that sometimes comes to mind when people hear stories about the common “real estate agent” versus FSBO (acronym for — For Sale By Owner) matchup.

The perception is, it’s a battle of wills. From the start, it’s obvious, the agent is there  for one thing: to sell the homeowner on why he’s the best option to get the home sold. While on the other hand, the homeowner must hold his ground. He must stick to his guns to prove that the use of a ‘traditional real estate agent‘ isn’t necessary to get the job done.

On occasion though, it’s really no battle at all. Rather, it’s more of a one-sided slaughter.

Let me tell you a story, then I’ll make my point. It comes from a discussion I was witness to, the other day, in a real estate Facebook group. One Realtor was sharing a recent conversation he’d had with a homeowner attempting to sell her home [by herself].

In his own words, here’s how the story went:

The agent said, “I was talking to a FSBO today and I asked her how she went about pricing her home.” She [the homeowner] said, “I invited 3 real estate agents to my house and they all did a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).”

To which the agent responded, “Interesting! And you used their recommended price?” The homeowner answered, “Yes.”

The agent followed up, “I’m just curious, what did that process look like?” What he really meant was, “What criteria did you use, to select the three agents that you invited to your house, to ask for the recommended price?”

The homeowner said, “I called them and I asked if they could prepare a CMA for me? And, of course, they did. In fact, they came quickly because all agents are desperate to get listings. Not only that, the homeowner said, “but I also asked them to leave me a copy of their marketing plan, which I am using now.”

The homeowner continued, “I hired a professional photographer for $200 and a company to put it on the MLS for $200. I hold open houses for myself.”

The agent responded, “Wow, you sound like you know what you’re doing. What’s your job?” “I am a tax consultant,” the homeowner answered.

“Excellent,” the agent said, “I did have a lot of issues with my last accountant. I need a new one. When can I stop by for a FREE consultation?”

The homeowner replied, “We don’t offer free consultations, you have to pay.” Dumbfounded, the agents responded, “So why do you get everything from these agents for free and you’re not willing to do the same?”

The homeowner fired back with this frank but obvious statement, “You guys sell yourself cheap.” At this point, both upset and frustrated, the agent finally hung up. And as he vented his frustration to the other agents in that FB group, here’s what he stated:

“It’s a public perception about real estate agents that [they are] desperate to get business.” Then continued, “She [talking about the FSBO] met with three agents and not one of them was strong enough [in their sales skills] to pre-qualify her before the appointment or aggressively close her for a signature.”

I ask, folks, might that be the very problem? Maybe people don’t want to be “sold.” Maybe people don’t want to be “pre-qualified.” Maybe people don’t want to be “aggressively closed.”

Maybe, if real estate agents weren’t trained to behave as annoying salespeople — commission-driven vultures — then perhaps the public perception would be different.

Maybe, if real estate agents weren’t trained to behave as annoying salespeople — commission-driven vultures — then perhaps the public perception would be different.

As a real estate professional myself, I am well-qualified to speak to the Negative Reputation of my industry. Many agents like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

But it does. I know it does. And you know it does.

The value proposition that most agents deliver, sadly, is precisely what that FSBO enunciated, after having requested the marketing plans of the 3 agents. “I hired a professional photographer for $200 and put it on the MLS for $200. And I do open houses for myself.” So why bother hiring an agent that demands an over-priced (by value comparison) commission fee?

And as far as the recommended price, speaking to how she “a invited 3 real estate agents to my house and they did a Comparative Marketing Analysis (CMA).” That’s why we, unlike most in the industry, don’t offer ‘free market analyses.’ That’s just not how we operate. There is too many variables that go into the process of diagnosing and assessing true market value value, to pin those hopes on a few ‘comps’ and a couple averages.

If that’s all you are looking for, I’m certain there is an agent right around the block who’d be willing to pop-by and leave you with a copy of the ‘comps’ and their ‘108-point plan.’

But like I said, if that’s all you are looking for, I’m certain there is an agent right around the block who’d be willing to pop-by and leave you with a copy of the ‘comps’ and their ‘108-point plan.’

You know, the one that “Sells Your Home for TOP Dollar — FAST!

Again, I think it’s unfortunate.

Not because this particular agent feels ‘taken advantage of’ by the homeowner … That is, honestly, the least of my worries. If you want to be treated & compensated like a professional, then you have to have the conviction to stand up for what you believe in. Your value proposition. In other words, if you are going to sell yourself (or your knowledge) cheap, then how can you expect others not to simply follow along.

That FSBO was a 100% correct.

On occasion, it does happen. A homeowner will reach out, without being referred to us, and ask if we’d like to come give a listing presentation or interview — along with 4–5 others — for the position of ‘being their agent.’ When that happens, we kindly decline and offer to mail them a copy of the book. We ask them to read it. And we advise that as they interview the ‘other agents,’ they compare them and their marketing plans etc. against the fundamental mistakes outlined in the book.

If any of them (the other agents) violate those fundamental mistakes — to the point of making the homeowner uncomfortable — then we ask them to give us a call back so that we can both look into the possibility of executing our documented approach on their behalf — to maximize profit.

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