Free Coaching?

In a market where even the real estate pro’s are finding it tough, I see a lot fewer For Sale By Owner’s (“FSBO’s”).

From perhaps 12% of the market at the peak five or so years ago, I’d guessimate that percentage is down 50%, to about 6% today.

What can be said of that diehard 6%?

Actually, a couple things, given that there’s a lot of variation.

FSBO Types

By far, the most common type of FSBO is really only a partial FSBO; the owner is willing to pay a Buyer’s commission, but not a listing commission.

That leaves the “pure” FSBO, who isn’t willing to pay a commission on either side of the transaction.

Another distinction between FSBO’s is their sophistication, which runs the gamut.

At one extreme, I’ve encountered FSBO’s who (maybe) have a professionally printed sign in their lawn, and an asking price that might as well be from Mars.

At the other, I’ve seen FSBO’s whose price is more realistic, and whose marketing pieces are laced with professional lingo.

Costly Mistakes

Whenever I see one of the latter, my hunch is that they got coached by a Realtor friend.

Of course, the other possibility is that they “interviewed” a few Realtors under the pretext of hiring one, then synthesized their marketing strategies and sales data.

Call these Sellers “faux FSBO’s.”

Is it possible to get some “unwitting” professional coaching under such a guise?


But, simply having a ballpark price and some marketing verbiage is a long way from having a real, live Buyer and a closed deal.

Trust me.

Along the way, the vast majority of FSBO’s make one mistake — or three — that more than offsets any commission savings they realize.  See, “Classic FSBO Mistakes.”


For the record, I know of no good Realtors who will give their services away for free — even to a good friend.

And I’d argue that the others are hardly doing their Seller “friend” a favor.

As far as Realtors selling their own homes (“owner-agents”), the expression about lawyers representing themselves having a fool for a client applies equally to real estate.

Which is why the vast majority of professional Realtors entrust a colleague to do it for them.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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