The FSBO Diaries

The FSBO Diaries (Week 10): We test-drive a broker

By Kathy  | May 26, 2010 - 11:56AM
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About half an hour before our open house last Sunday, I received an email from a broker wanting to show our place.

But instead of ignoring it like all the others, I found myself reading it over several times:

“I am a broker with a qualified buyer who would love to see your lovely apartment at the Galaxy,” she wrote. “Are you permitting brokers to show the apartment for sale?  If so, is it possible to see the apartment today?”

We haven't come close to working with any brokers since the apartment has been on the market. With 14 years of public relations experience and an M.B.A. concentrating marketing, I feel pretty confident about marketing my apartment.

The only thing we lose is a bit of time because we have fewer channels to get the word out about the apartment, so the marketing does take more time.

Still, this broker's email, unlike all the others, prompted me to say to Rob, "Hey, so listen to this..."  After all, though we have had offers, we hadn't settled on anything yet.

Suddenly we were both saying to each other that, as an experiment, we could let this one broker show the apartment.

The potential downside was that we'd potentially be shelling out about $11,000, but if her buyer came in at ask, we were, in this case, willing to lose a bit on the sale for speed and efficiency. I chose to trust that the broker did, as she said, have a qualified buyer (less screening for us to do) and we would be able to have the broker manage putting together her client's board package, and I wouldn't have to walk the buyer through all that myself. 

Let's just see what happens, Rob and I said, and we figured out some terms that we could live with.

We told her she could show the apartment today only and we'd offer her a 2.5% commission if and only if the person decided to offer the asking price.  I explained in an email that we didn't inflate the price of the apartment to include a broker's fee, so 2.5% is what we could offer.  With this limited arrangement, we were setting terms that worked for us, but we weren't ruling out a potential sale that day just because it came through a broker.

I added that she would be the first broker that we had worked with, and told her that if she agreed to our terms to feel free to bring her client over.

The client liked the apartment and the visit has led to subsequent emails and conversations.  We'll see what happens, but the experiment was not only worthwhile but painless. 

So, what was it about the broker's email that had me at hello?

  • The request was immediate and specific ("I'd like to show it today!")
  • The timing was perfect (we were minutes away from our open house, so we were mentally primed to take  action.  We weren't being asked to make a special appointment or go out of our way at all)
  • She had clearly targeted our apartment (we didn't feel like just another potential commission, but that she had done her homework)
  • She knew the apartment building (and conveyed that she loved it, so it felt like she was a little more serious than the other brokers who didn't even seem to tailor their emails to our place)
  • The broker already had a living, breathing person in mind who expressed interest in the unit (most brokers say they "might have buyers," which is vague and intangible.)
  • She seemed enthusiastic, not pushy ("your lovely apartment!")

I don't know if we'd work with a broker again unless the circumstances were similar to this one. 

Yes, it takes longer to get the word out about the apartment when you're selling FSBO, but I don't think a little bit of extra time marketing the apartment is worth thousands of dollars. 

I'm reluctant to give the listing to a broker just to see if it brings anyone in.  The broker who reached out to us had a lot of things going in her favor.  In other words, all of the elements lined up in that situation; if she had emailed us on a different day, our response might have been different. 

Our first experience with a broker, however, was a good one. 


Kathy is in the market to buy (from an owner OR broker) the perfect prewar 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment in Brooklyn with private outdoor space that's near the subways (the good ones).

Click here for the complete FSBO Diaries.


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