The FSBO Diaries

The FSBO Diaries (Week 4): Brokers want in

By Kathy  | April 14, 2010 - 1:35PM

The Intimidator, the Cold Caller, Debbie Downer and the Partner.  These are the four types of brokers my husband and I have encountered the most since we put our Upper West Side studio on the market.  

Many brokers are a combination of these four types and other brokers wouldn't fit in these groupings at all, but in broad strokes, there are four broker personas that have emerged in the past few weeks.

All told, about 50 brokers have contacted us via email or visited one of the three open houses we've had.  These brokers want to bring potential buyers to us in exchange for a 3 percent commission.  They're doing what they can to drum up business, and I respect that.

As you read on, keep in mind that I'm all for the broker profession.  Buyers and sellers need brokers; it's a lot of work selling apartments.  FSBO is also a lot of work, and we've simply made the choice to do the work on our own.  

The Intimidator

This type of broker assumes FSBO sellers are not educated about the New York real estate market.  By sharing worst-case scenarios and playing into the insecurities or fears that an inexperienced seller might have, this broker hopes to unnerve you into working with him or her.

An Intimidator sent us a packet last week with a letter that started off like this:  "As a Manhattan property owner, you've taken on the ultimate extreme challenge:  For Sale by Owner.  Selling New York real estate can at times feel like climbing up a massive mountain:  mysterious, potentially treacherous, but richly rewarding.  And just like a solo climber about to scale a difficult precipice, every seller can benefit from some help from an experienced guide."  

This Intimidator did include some useful information about selling homes in his packet, but his hyperbole was a big turnoff.  We won't be calling him, even though he wrote:  "If this project does not turn out the way you had hoped, and you decide to hire a broker, you'll probably remember me:  the broker who gave you absolutely everything for absolutely nothing."

The Cold Caller 

This kind of broker combs Streeteasy, Craigslist and for FSBO listings and emails them all.  

Their notes are either brief and to-the-point or lengthy from the broker's selling credentials, but they all ask whether we're willing to work with buyers' brokers and give a 3 percent commission.  

They're not trying to persuade us, they just want to know the answer.  I don't mind the question, but I'm usually not motivated to respond to the Cold Callers' emails because I feel like we're just another listing and it doesn't seem like our lack of response would be noticed anyway. 

I suppose this tactic works for some brokers, since if I was indeed working with buyers' brokers, I would have responded with a "yes."

Debbie Downer

A Debbie Downer came to our open house on Easter Sunday and asked, "Why in the world do you want to sell on your own?"  

She then said what a shame it was that I had to be working inside on such a gorgeous weekend, and then remarked that we could get much more than the asking price.  

The Debbie Downer wants you to know that you could avoid the hassle and by the way, you're not doing it right and she could do it better.  She leaves with a snide "good luck.”

The Partner

This is our favorite kind of broker, and we've encountered a number of them.  

The partner conveys knowledge and professionalism without trying to play on fears.  They accept the fact that you have made a choice to sell without the help of a broker. They might compliment your apartment and say they like how you've staged it.  

Whether via email or in-person, they show genuine interest in being a partner who works with you to reach a common goal:  selling the apartment.  

The partner may not even ask during the open house if you're working with buyers' brokers but when they follow up in an email, they remember some details about the apartment that make you feel like you're not just another listing.They politely ask you to consider them if you decide to work with a broker down the road. 

These are the brokers who stand out to me.  I remember their names and I note on their business cards that they are on the short list of brokers we might contact if we decide to give a commission to buyers' brokers.

We've decided not to consider using a broker for at least four months, and when we do, we might start by offering select brokers a 1 percent commission, or $4,390, and go up from there every couple of months.

But if that time comes, we'll look to the Partners first. Even if the Intimidators, the Cold Callers and the Debbie Downers are capable brokers, you have to ask yourself whether you want to work with them and welcome them into your home.  There are enough talented brokers in the Partner category to avoid the other types, I think.

Previous FSBO Diaries:

Week 3: Second open house, first offer

Week 2: Our first open house

Week 1: Our decision to sell bareback 

Introducing the FSBO Diaries


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