You see the signs everywhere: For Sale by Owner. The truth is, everyone's juxtaposed between wanting to maximize their gains while paying others as little as possible to handle their transactions, and so the "For Sale by Owner" movement has gained a great deal of momentum. If you're looking to become a commercial matchmaker by helping sellers attract the perfect buyers -- and you have no desire to spend the time and money it takes to become a real estate broker -- check out these tips to get started.
Be clear about what you're getting yourself into. This unique job includes educating clients so they have reasonable expectations based on the accurate property assessments and realistic goals you'll help them set. Your job will include assisting them with their listing, mentoring and coaching them on how to market their property, and you'll work with them to produce attention-getting signs. Expect to help schedule, throw and assess open houses. The most successful folks in this business also provide clients with legal forms so they can handle their own offers and sales agreement.
Decide if you will focus on just commercial real estate or extend your circle to residential and/or entire businesses. Figure out where you'll get your start-up funds. Contingent upon the area of the country in which you live, expect to invest between $2,000 and $10,000 to capitalize your consultancy, but since this business can be run from your home, you may not require an office. While establishing your business base, draw up, or have your attorney prepare, a contract for services. Find contract examples by clicking on links at the end of this article. Query local authorities to see if you need one or more licenses or permits to serve clients in your area.
Know your market inside and out. Continually investigate property that's been on the market as a For Sale by Owner for a lengthy amount of time by making phone calls, doing legwork and getting background data from Internet sources. Don't waste time soliciting clients who have recently posted FSBO signs; these folks tend to believe they still stand a chance of unloading their property without assistance. Put them on a wait list and check back in a month.
Contract with a website designer to get your clients online, but don't be talked into fancy bells and whistles, dark backgrounds with reversed-out copy and myriad flash elements. You're a property sale expediter, not a real estate agent. Request a site that's built for easy navigation, a clean homepage and no more than four landing pages. Find fresh, reasonable web design talent at your local tech school. When you meet, bring samples of website pages you really love so the designer can cut to the chase fast.
Build your client list. Referrals are the lifeblood of all businesses, so make it worth the while of your FSBO clients to refer your services to others. Come up with an incentive for clients. Think creatively. Consider bartering services with others. For example, lower your commission on a restaurant sale you negotiate in return for 50 complimentary dinner certificates that you'll in turn use to reward clients for their referrals.
Charge a fair fee. Professionals in this emerging career field usually assess a flat fee for a set list of services offered on a contract or menu upon which both parties agree. Printing charges for fliers, signs, listings and website listing services are expenses you may want to offer a la carte. Additionally, if you plan to provide your clients with guidebooks to help them fully understand what they're doing and why they're doing it, you might want to leave this off of your fee schedule and present the material as a gift when they sign a contract with you.
Get a broker's license only if you wish to get more involved in the real estate market. You'll be required to take classes, pass a rigorous exam and renew your license regularly to stay current. It may make more sense to add to your skills and credibility by taking college classes in real estate law and real estate business practices and leave the home tours in the hands of those who love doing them.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.