Quinte, On. real estate agent: For Sale By Owner in Trenton Ontario

For Sale By Owner in Trenton Ontario

I have recieved quite a few emails from people who are trying to sell their own homes lately. Some are from people who are truly trying to sell their homes on their own (or with the aid of one of those "For Sale By Owner" companies) and some are from people who have their homes listed with one of those flat fee minimum commission agencies in Toronto, Ottawa, or Hamilton.

These emails are pretty similar and I suspect that the people who are emailing me have been told to do so (and even told what to say) by the people who they have paid to help sell their home. I believe that contacting local real estate agents is a part of their strategy.

The gist of these emails (about five or six a week) is that they admire my web presence and would like me to promote their homes. Of course they insist that I "will be treated fairly", and some go so far as to offer me the 2.5% buyer's commission if I can promote their house and put together a deal with the buyer.

I know why I get these emails, it's my web presence. It's virtually impossible to google anything having to do with real estate in Trenton Ontario and not stumble across one of my many websites, blogs or articles. It's also pretty easy to figure out that my web presence is designed to attract buyers - and guess what, I do attract buyers, lots of them. I'm in the business of attracting buyers.

 I don't reply to these emails, they are of no more interest to me than the ones trying to interest me in buying Viagra online. These emails, while technically are not spam, are quite annoying. Someone seems to have a template for these unsolicited emails.  

I will make something clear. I am not opposed to people trying to sell their own homes in whatever manner they see fit. If someone can sell their own home and keep more money in their pockets, kudos to them. I have sold cars privately and I wouldn't expect people who own car lots to be mad at me for doing so. There are also dozens of real estate deals that take place on a weekly basis in the Quinte board that don't involve me, so a few more or less that don't involve me won't make me lose any sleep. If people want to sell their own homes or pay $199 to have it listed on the MLS by the dollar-store equivalent of a real estate brokerage, that's all well and good - more power to them. Truthfully, they are getting what they paid for, a coroplast sign and a few inches of space on a website that is on page 32 of Google.

I just don't understand why these people think that I would be interested in promoting the sale of their homes. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I have invested tens of thousands of hours and dollars building my web presence (and also the presence that the locals have come to know and love in all the print media outlets). I have built this presence to benefit my clients, the people who's homes I DO have listed. It would be very short sighted of me to offer this platform to any Tom Dick or Harry who wants to promote their own home on my websites for the sake of an odd commission cheque here and there. Why would I want to do that? Why would the clients who are willing to pay me 5% commission (and you would have trouble finding anybody who would tell you that I wasn't worth that) continue to be willing to use my services if I offered them to the next fellow for free?   I might earn a cheque every once in a while, but I'd be cutting my own legs out from under me (and the clients who have agreed to pay me what I'm worth) in the long run. Seems silly, doesn't it?

So, if you are one of those people selling your own home (or trying to with the aid of a bargain basement brokerage), here's the deal - stop bothering me with your emails and I will promise not to bother you with mine. Fair enough? If you're looking for someone to promote your property, why not start with the people who you have paid to do so in the first place. Give them a call, maybe they will come around and make you a nice virtual tour or host an open house or two.

Comment balloon 10 commentsMalcolm Johnston • April 18 2012 05:39PM


This is MY feature of the day. Well said sir and so true. The value of our knowledge is what our sellers pay for- it does not come for free.

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

I agree, Malcolm, it is your right as a business owner to determine how and who you do business with - and I'm not sure why these folks think that you would want to expend any effort on their listing, when you would likely be making your full commission anyways should one of your buyers be interested in the property. Have you met an owner in a FSBO situation that wouldn't agree to the buyer's commission if they knew a potential buyer was sitting in the car...?  Seems like a potential for associated liability, without the backing of a listing contract!


Posted by Karen Hawkins, MBA - Langley & Surrey, BC (Royal Pro Real Estate Network) almost 7 years ago

That's right Ellie, I use my free time to volunteer for worthy causes, not to market propeties. That's my day job.

Karen, I've never had an FSBO turn down full commission when I have a willing buyer ready to move. A lot of people talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, the tune changes quickly when they have been trying to sell their home for months without a nibble.  

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) almost 7 years ago

Malcolm, I am getting more and more e-mails like this also.  Personally, I am finding FSBO's not worth the bother...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 7 years ago

I have never even called on a FSBO...I much prefer working with buyers, especially in this market!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTORĀ®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) almost 7 years ago

It doesn't seem right if they are asking you to promote their home on your sites for free. I can see how they would try and make agents aware of their properties but they have no right to ask for free help.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) almost 7 years ago

Malcolm - one of the fellows in Kathy's office checked the stats on FSBO's in our area listed with the flat fee brokerages you mention and found their results wanting and they advertised others as being sold on their site even though they ended up being listed and sold by a conventional brokerage firm

Posted by Barrie Clulow (My Time Is My Own) almost 7 years ago

Chris, I think it's part of the strategy of those flat fee brokerages. Now that people are finding that it's not all rainbows and skittles and are complaining, they have to do something to placate them, and maybe this is it. Call the local agents and get them to promote their homes. I'm sure agents with nothing to do might be interested.

Kristin, I have sold FSBO properties to my clients because they wanted those homes, but since I pretty much have to work both ends of the deal I ask for a higher commission, and not a single F.S.B.O. has ever argued with that. I have ended up actually making more from those deals.

Janice, it's strange that they think I'd be interested in promoting a property that I don't have a listing for.

Barrie, I'm sure a lot of those outfits will be gone soon. I regularly see houses listed with them for a while and then eventually a local agent's sign will be up on the lawn. Usually that's when they sell. And yes, I have seen them trying to pad their statistics by marking the property as "sold" on their website even though they had nothing to do with the sale.


Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) almost 7 years ago

Malcom, great post and suggested.  Some FSBOs are hard to work with if/when you get a listing. I do not call on FSBOs, but will list their property is they desire...  I actually had someone ask me if I would blog about their house they wanted to sale, of course it was a FSBO.  I said "I don't charge for blogging, but only blog about my listings. I did it once for a friend, but never again.  

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, RealtorĀ®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) almost 7 years ago

Good points Malcolm. As you mentioned, I'm sure they are just doing as suggested.

Best wishes on your Trenton Ontario real estate business!

Posted by Todd Mack, Property Manager Assistant almost 7 years ago