David Converts FSBOs With Books and Tough Love

Listing Scorecard

  • Number of books given away: About 15
  • Listings achieved with the help of the books: 3
  • Biggest benefit of using the books: It sets you apart from anybody else. It makes you an authority. Even if it's not read, you've got a book. No one else has got one. And it's not a spiral bound Kinko's book, it's a published book… I was in some competition here, and that may have been the thing that pushed us over the edge to actually get that listing.

Ben did an interview with David. Here are some of the highlights:

The book is an impressive business card—a small investment on your part that people won’t toss in the garbage.

He offers to take free, high-quality photos of FSBOs as a way to establish a relationship and make them more likely to work with him.

He typically gives books face-to-face. When he does that, he has a strong closing ratio.

He finds that The Secret of Wealthy Home Sellers is a great way to let homeowners know they

The books give you credibility and help you stand out. They let sellers know what you’re going to do to sell their home as opposed to other agents who sometimes leave them in the dark.

Nobody’s asked him if he wrote the book, although he did tell one person he worked with a ghostwriter.

He also sends books to past clients as part of his follow-up program, and he got a new listing from a client’s sister because of that.

In a nutshell, his advice for struggling agents: do the work.

Here’s how David gets his FSBO listings:

#1. He talks with FSBOs and mentions he has buyers who are looking at FSBOs, although not their house.

#2. He tells them their pictures online are awful (and somehow doesn’t offend them!), then offers to take better pictures.

#3. When they accept, he gets their email address so he can send the pictures.

Listen to the Interview Audios below for more details on exactly how he does it.

Here are the highlights of the Audio Interview:

Here is the full Audio Interview:

Here is a transcript of the interview with Ben Curry and David:

Ben: So tell me a little bit about the success you've had or how you've used the books, etc.

David: Yeah. Yeah. And actually, I think I've had, now I think about it, I've had at least three from it.

Ben: Wow.

David: I got one that was, I think we listed it at $525,000. It was a for sale by owner. For some reason, I've just got this knack for talking to these people. And so, anyway, I went out and talked to the lady and just said, "You know, I see you’re trying to do a for sale by owner. I get it. You're trying to save some money, and here's a book that'll help you out with it. By the way, I've got clients that are working with for sale by owners," and I told them, very blunt, “It's not your house.” So, I'm not out here just telling you a bunch of bull crap that I've got a buyer for your house. 'Cause that's what everybody else says. I don't. However, would it be OK with you if I took some good pictures because the pictures you've got on Zillow are awful."

Ben: Do you actually say awful?

David: Yeah, either awful or they look like crap. One of the two, yeah. Yeah. For some reason, I can get by...my wife has even told me this. I get by saying stuff to some folks that other people just can't do it. It's weird, but I don't know why. I smile.

Ben: You must have this secret. You would guess somebody would be offended and be like, "Get away from me. You're such a jerk. I don't ever want to talk to you again." I guess you didn't offend them. Wow.

David: Well, you know I say it in a very lighthearted way, and I look at them first to see if they do. 'Cause most people have a picture of a corner of a room or stuff like that. I've got, I took, actually our whole team took classes on real estate photography, and we've got 10 millimeter wide lenses that we use on our digital SLRs. And we do HDR photography, where you layer overexposed and underexposed pictures together, and you edit them to come up with something that's very beautiful.

Ben: Oh, wow.

David: And so, anyway so I go through and I photo the home. And then, to get their email address so I can follow up with them a little better, I say, "Hey you know what? If you'd like, I've got these pictures and it didn't cost me anything other than time. How about I just email these pictures to you?." And everybody's like, "Yeah, if you've got some good pictures we'd..." and I'm like, "Yeah, go ahead and use them. They're not copywrited. I mean, I own them, but you're welcome to use them, and I'll send that to you in an email."

Well, they never do, and I drop them off a book, and say, "Here's a book that I put together and it kind of goes over some things. And you know what, some of this stuff may be old hat and you may know it. Some of it, you might look at it and have an aha moment, and it may help you out. So, if I can help you out fine, and by the way, if I were to bring a buyer, would you be willing to pay me?" And, most people, if they let me in the house, they're willing to. And then, I say, "By the way, if you find somebody so that you don't violate any state laws. If you want to, you can pay me $650 and I'll meet with you and your buyer in my office and we'll do all the paperwork on the purchase agreement. That way, you're covered under my errors and omissions insurance," and people love that. I've probably done five of those like that this year.

Ben: Holy Moly.

David: So, yeah. So, I charge them to do the paperwork and just filling out the forms, and I tell them you can fill these forms out online. You can do it yourself. The difference is if you check the wrong boxes and you get sued, then everything you thought you saved, you just lost it tenfold.

Ben: Yeah, that's true. So, OK. Wow.

David: So, anyway, the very next day on that couple, the lady calls me and says, "Hey, you know what, my husband wants to talk to you." I talked to the husband, we hit it off great, ended up listing the house, and it's a tough one to sell. It's eight acres, old farm house, that's been renovated, a beautiful property, but they built a new addition on two sides of it, right to the back, and right to the west of it, or east. So, it's a challenge to sell it, but a nice property. So anyway, we got that listed.

And then, almost, well actually, it was the same week I had another property. It was two and a half, three acres, and we've got it sold already. And, I went up there, and I told the owner. I'm like, "Hey I do have a potential buyer for this," and I brought out a document that's the listing agreement when you represent somebody if you're a for sale by owner, disclosed the name of my client, and brought them out, and that wouldn't work.

And so, I gave him a book, and I said the same thing, "If this helps you out, that would be great. If not, here's the pictures that I took and sent to Dan, and then that, and you can use these on your marketing. Because yours is just not really that great. And, he started to talking to me about how will I market the home. So, that turned into a listing presentation right there. I gave them a copy of the book, as well, and it's just an impressive business card. It's like a five dollar business card that people aren't going to throw away. That's the big advantage I see there.

And then, the third one, I called a number and I get it from oh gosh, not REDX, I'm trying to think of the company I use.

Ben: Land Voice.

David: Land Voice, there we go.

Ben: OK.

David: So, I called the number on my invoice. Anyway, it's the dad and he said, "You know what, my son is selling his house. Here's his number." And so, I called him up, and I said, "Look, you know what, I don't have anybody for your home, but I frequently do. However, I have two investors that I'd like to send it to. I've got one in California, and I've got one up in Chicago, and they'll buy homes for people that are looking for a rental on a part-time basis and they'll rent it back to them for five years. And then, while they're fixing credit," which that's not a lie, I actually do. So, he's like, "Sure, come on, I'll take a look at it." Anyway, he starts quizzing me and going over stuff and come to find out he's an attorney and former police officer. And, I'm actually a reserve police officer at a small department around here with my father-in-law. We just kind of hang out together. So, we hit it off there, gave him a copy of the book, he actually read it cover to cover, and quizzed me on a few questions on it. And, I'm like sure, I've probably got to read this book.

Ben: OK.

David: And so, anyway, I got him listed and he's still trying to save some money. So, I said look, I've got a program, it's called the Smart Seller program. You sell it on your own, $650. I'll do all your paperwork. You're an attorney; you can do it. And he says, "Yeah, but I know that any attorney that represents himself is an idiot, so I'll do that." So, I said, "I'll list it for you," gave him a commission rate that he could live with and said, "If another Realtor brings somebody in, we have to consider that that's mine." So, if any Realtor's involved at all, then it's a full-price commission.

Ben: Yup.

David: If you bring somebody to me, you've got to immediately disclose it, and I'll release you from the listing agreement. You pay me $650, and then, we fill out the paperwork. But, if they don't buy it, you're paying me to do the paperwork, not to screen your buyer to see if they can actually buy it or not. So, if they can't buy, you're going to pay me $650. And he said, "OK good, I'm fine with that." So, that's how they work. I've dropped off a couple of others, haven't heard back from people. But, I typically, and I've mailed a couple of them out, but mine's always face to face. If I can get into somebody's house face to face, I'll get a pretty strong closing ratio on for sale by owners.

Ben: Yeah, no kidding. How do you get the ideas to give them often the free pictures or the Smart Seller's agreement?

David: Well, you know, just I don't know, I might have seen the Smart Seller thing on your site.

Ben: Yeah. OK. I was just curious. I didn't know if you got it from us or. 'Cause it seems like a lot of people, they see our stuff, they see our suggestions or tools, and they go, "Yeah," you know? So, you get some buy in, but you don't get a huge buy in. So, I was surprised you were actually using that stuff.

David: Yeah. Yeah. That's, and then the free pictures. I've done that frequently over the years. So, that's just, if you give somebody something of value, then they're a little bit more obligated to you 'cause you did something for 'em. And you didn't lie and say, "Oh if you sign this listing agreement, I've got a ton of buyers." Guess what? If you don't show up with them, who looks like the schmuck then, you know?

Ben: Yeah. That is true. That's a good way to put it.

David: Yup.

Ben: How many books do you think you've given away so far?

David: I would guess, gosh I gave away all of my first-time buyer books already. So, gosh I think I might have ordered ten of those because our team does wedding shows. So, I gave them to some brides at the wedding show. Those don't seem to be quite as strong a grabber as the others do. But, so I would say, gosh I've got a ton of your books left already. If I had to put a number, I would say fewer than 20, but probably closer to 15 books.

Ben: Wow. OK. I didn't expect...

David: I've given them out.

Ben: Yeah, you do still have a lot left. I think your order shows like 141 books. What type of leads have you given the books to so far? Mostly FSBOs or other people as well?

David: Mostly FSBOs and then when I get a first-time buyer, I'll put it in their hands too. But, yeah, mainly the FSBOs is what I go after. And then, my education’s in mortuary science, so I really should probably go after probate, but...

Ben: Yeah, I know what you're saying. Interesting. Have you used the books at all on listing presentations?

David: Well, I guess that's part of it. That's my foot in the door, and I haven't really used them if I procure a listing presentation in a different way. But, yeah, I guess I probably have. I've used the one that's the, what is it, what wealthy home sellers know.

Ben: Yeah, the Secret of Wealthy Home Sellers.

David: And yeah. And then, I'll put in, you really can't tell them their baby's ugly, but the book can. You've got...yeah it's a nice way to say, "Your place stinks, or it's ugly, or this is nasty, or pack some stuff up." So, I'll use that on a listing presentation. You know?

Ben: Yeah.

David: And so, it's funny too, because there's one listing that I, the very first one that I used it on I think, and it was a referral from a client of mine that had used me to buy three homes, and they ended up going with somebody else. And guess what? Their house isn't sold yet, so that's kind of nice. So, I'm going to follow up with them here shortly and see, "Hey, by the way, I realized that you said we weren't quite a fit, but maybe you've changed your mind now." So, I'll probably hit them with a Expired book here shortly, too. I may just drop that in the mail.

Ben: OK. Question, what do you do if someone asks if you wrote the book yourself?

David: They, I've not had that question posed directly at me, and there was one person that I gave a book to recently and I said, yeah this is, and I just felt kind of queasy about. But, I usually just say, "Hey here's my book. I just got these back from the publisher." So, it infers that it was written by me, but I did have one client just recently. I handed it to him and said, "Here's a book that I put together with the help of a ghostwriter." They don't know what that is.

Ben: They all know what that is or they don't know what that is?

David: They don't know what that is, they have no clue. OK, whatever a ghost writer is, maybe that's somebody that checks your punctuation. Nobody knows, you know?

Ben: Yup.

David: Nobody knows. They see your picture on it, they see your name on it, and it's credibility. 'Cause who else has got one? Everybody else has got a business card, you know? And, Oh, I've got a nice listing presentation. I got people even if it's a referral, and they're going to sign with me anyway, I want them to know what I'm going to do so that they can differentiate me from anybody else. 'Cause once it's listed and it's on the MLS, if it doesn't sell, well, they don't know what you're doing. So, if you show them up front, "Hey these are the things I'm going to do." Then at that point in time, they they've got a oh OK, well then that's good then. Because I've never heard of anybody saying they would do this, this, this, and this. That's cool.

Ben: Yeah. So, you haven't had anybody ask if you wrote the book yourself so far?

David: Nope, nobody.

Ben: Wow, that's cool. That's good for you. OK. What do you feel is the biggest benefit that you get from using the books?

David: It sets you apart from anybody else. It makes you an authority. Even if it's not read. You've got a book. No one else has got one. And it's not a spiral bound Kinko's book, it's a published book, and I had somebody ask me awhile back, "So, you can buy these at the bookstore?" And I'm like, "Well I'm sure you probably could."

Ben: Yeah.

David: I don't know.

Ben: Yeah.

David: But, this is just a publisher's copy that I got. So, I give these out to my clients. It's got the value on the back of it.

Ben: I just, whenever you called. I had in 15 minutes, I had a phone call with a guy in South Carolina, and he said something interesting. He said that his book looks like it was maybe self-published like you can't get it at a bookstore. Which, he kind of spun it to say people can put stuff in a self-published book that maybe wouldn't be willing to say if they had an editor go through it, make sure everything's politically correct, and there's no hidden secrets. You're not allowed to tell any secrets about the industry, and stuff. So, because it's self-published, he's able to talk more about real estate and give you more insider secrets that way. So, it's not available on Amazon. So, maybe that's an idea.

David: Huh, OK. That's an interesting thought, yeah. OK. I've never had really anybody question the integrity of it because you give it to them. I think just because it's here, that creates the integrity.

Ben: Yeah, that's a good way to put it. So, OK.

David: Just by virtue of its existence.

Ben: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and that is interesting. A lot of potential customers are so scared of giving away a book: People are going to expose me as a fraud, I'm going to get laughed at, etc. But, most people I've talked to, I mean nobody's asked 'em, "Hey did you write the book yourself." It's never even come up for the majority of them.

David: Yeah. Yeah.

Ben: You know.

David: Yeah, you're exactly right.

Ben: OK. Alright, last one...

David: And I did, when I initially got them. I think I mailed some out to some of my previous clients just to, as a follow-up, part of my follow-up program so that I would be in front of their mind for referrals. 'Cause I use a CRM that's called Realty Juggler, and I keep adding to that. So, yeah, to think about it, I may have dropped a few of them in the mail here and there. And, I know that I did get one phone call from that. It was a previous client, and they were going to list their house. Now they're not, but now, their sister is. But, they're a previous client anyway, and I will give her a book as well when we list their house and we're meeting on Thursday. And I'm going to give her What Wealthy Home Sellers Know, and the reason is, 'cause I know they've got stinky dogs in their house and they need to get the dogs and the stink out of it, you know? So, yeah, I've been doing these.

Ben: That is a good point.

David: Yeah, that's the best part about that one I think, is probably the chapters in there, or I assume there is about how to stage your home, and stuff like that. But, and then there's a couple of more. I've put some business cards in at certain areas just so that they find certain pages in the book, too. But, yeah, I think it's a great calling card and it always brings a smile or a “Wow.” You know? Or, a “That's pretty cool” type comment back from somebody. Even the guy that was the attorney which is kind of neat, you know. He was like, "So you put together a book?" I'm like, "Yeah."

Ben: Yeah, it's interesting. Do you have any stories of maybe like a big breakthrough or a big change in someone's perception from using the books?

David: As far as why an agent should have a...

Ben: What's been your biggest win from using the books? Probably the attorney?

David: My biggest win is, say it again.

Ben: Maybe the attorney?

David: Maybe so because he is very detailed. Yeah, that's not my highest dollar listing, but he was also considering another agent at the time, as well, and I think it just differentiates me from anyone else. So, yeah that's probably the one that I'm like yeah I was in some competition here and that may have been the thing that pushed us over the edge to actually get that listing.

Ben: OK, so you were competing with some other people then?

David: Yeah, yeah, I was competing with other people too, yeah. And so, yeah, I felt comfortable enough to use that with an attorney who would scrutinize everything, and I won. I got the listing. So, that's the biggie there.

Ben: Yeah, no kidding. Alright, I'll ask you one more question and then if you have anything else you want to go through.

David: OK.

Ben: It sounds like you're doing well with the books and they're working out pretty well. What suggestions or advice would you have for a Realtor who's struggling to get listings or trying different things, but it really seems like nothing's working for them? What would your advice be for them?

David: This is going to be kind of harsh, but get to work. Because so many people are afraid to pick up the phone and call people, or go to a for sale by owner and knock on the door, or call previous clients. And, I find myself getting in a rut where I'm busy so I don't call clients. And then, all of the sudden, that busy turns into not busy, and it's like hey, you know what, if you'd been prospecting this whole time, you'd be getting listings. And, every time I...and I get the Land Voice every day, but I don't call them every day. I find what I like and everything, and we do a lot of family trips and stuff in the summertime. So, I don't make those calls as frequently as I should, and when I get off my butt and go back to work, I get listings. And every time my business partner and my wife are both like, "You know what, you should really go after these for sale by owners because you've got some sort of a magic that works with them," and my comment back to them is, "I know I just need to pick up the phone." And when I do, there it comes.

Ben: Yeah, it is what it is. I mean it's, going to work is how life, yeah, it's gambling, it's not gambling...

David: There's not other job in the world that I know of that gives you the freedom to have fun and get to know your family. And my son, he's going to be 16 in October. I know all of his friends. I know all of his friend's favorite foods. We go camping with the Boy Scouts. He's got all of his stuff done for his Eagle Scout. He's just turning paperwork in now. And, I've been able to go camping with him through all of that. I'm an Eagle Scout, as well. We've got a huge troop of over a 100 scouts that we go with. Just have a great time, but all the way from the day he was born, I think I may have missed five events in his life. And, real estate allows you that freedom, but it also requires discipline. It requires you to get up in the morning and go to work. You've just got to do it.

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