Are Agents Showing Your FSBO?

July 27, 2008


I was involved in an intereting thread over on Trulia Voices last week concerning FSBOs. I was the first to respond (at the bottom), but the discussion got very lively soon there after.

The basis of the thread turned out to be, “Do agents avoid showing their buyer clients FSBOs?”

Two very different opinions came out. One, from a colleague of mine Marla Mullen, co-founder of Territory Real Estate, an exclusive buyers agency offering rebates to their clients here in Boston. And the other from a couple of local agents who admitted they are less likely to show FSBOs offering a “low” commission.

My approach is show my buyers any home that matches the criteria they are looking for, regardless of the amount of money I will potentially make on the deal. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me on this one.

I also believe as technology pushes us forward. we’ll see more home sellers trying to FSBO. It’s not for everyone, but before I was in real estate sales (back when I was just an appraiser), my wife and I sold our West Roxbury home ourselves to a buyer with no agent. Couldn’t have gone smoother and the $22,000 savings was HUGE to say the least.

This anti-FSBO sentiment that seems to run rampant through the RE industry is based purely on fear. As the industry becomes more transparent (with the help of companies like TerritoryRE) opportunities for web-savvy sellers up for the task to successfully FSBO will only increase.

So my approach has always been to be a resource for FSBOs rather than try and belittle, berate and scare them into listing with me.

Well, in this case it seems the scare tactics of a couple of commission-chasers did the trick. I was connecting with the sellers outside of Trulia and learned that they have decided to lower their price and list with a local agent next week. Keep in mind they had been getting lots of activity, just no offers.

In my opinion, based on looking at their listing on MLS and looking at the property with my appraiser hat on, the price reduction alone might have been enough to get the house sold. Going FSBO is definitely not for all home sellers. There is a lot of work involved. I know. I did it.

But I hate to think that based on some borderline unethical tactics and opinions of a couple greedy agents, that homeowners think that ALL agents avoid showing their clients FSBO properties.

I am most definitely in business to make money and take care of my family, but my first priority is to best serve my clients.

In this case we were talking about a difference in commission of about $1,800 (2.0% vs. 2.5%). Personally, I am not nearly willing to sacrifice my reputation and ethics over a couple thousand dollars.

So how about it fellow agents? Does a FSBO situation or a “slightly lower than typical” commission (in these parts a 2.5% co-broke is the norm) influence your decision on whether to show a buyer a property or not?

I’d love to know if I’m the “kooky” one, as one of the Trulia respondents on this thread so eloquently put it.



  1. Mike I am with you on this one. I will show any property that matches my buyers search criteria. After all if a buyer hires me I am working for them not my pocket book.

  2. I am with you on this one as well. You are working for your clients, and the goal is to get them a home they love, and that is right for them. That means you show them homes that they would like to see and maybe some home you think they should see. Many listings out in Western Ma have a 2% co-broke where 2.5-3% is a treat–incentive perhaps (in Hampshire and Franklin Counties)for the Buying agent to bring someone in. Sadly, there are many agents that do chase the dollar sign, and I’m not one of them. if my buyers want to look at houses in the low $100s, fine. I’m not going to push them to look at the $160s if they don’t want to. I don’t want my buyers going into forclosure because of a suggestion I made because I wanted extra money. That idea doesn’t make me feel good at all.

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