Fab Real Estate Blog: Unrepresented Sellers: Protect Yourself

Unrepresented Sellers: Protect Yourself

This past Sunday, there was an ad in the Danbury, Connecticut newspaper for a home that is being sold by the owners, without the representation of a REALTOR.

These unrepresented sellers took out a display ad which contained a heavily shaded photo of their house (dark shadows don't reproduce well in a newspaper) along with a whole lot of text.  They used a neat concept for the text - a cutesy description of the home, their family, why they're moving and how your family will live in the house.

Whoa...Red flags everywhere.

  • Describing their family? 
    Danger...Danger...people now know too much about you and your children.
  • Telling the world why you're moving? 
    Danger...Danger...you've now lost any negotiating advantage you may have had.
  • Telling buyers how their family will live in the house and what they will do in the home? 
    Danger...Danger...Fair Housing laws affect unrepresented sellers, too. 
    Fair Housing

Let's take a look at excerpts from this ad.  Names, locations and any identifying details have been changed to protect those ignorant of the law and their own personal safety...

We moved into our home just three years ago
OK, so now we now you probably don't have much equity.  Perhaps the home is overpriced so you can try to sell for what you "need" to sell for instead of its current market value.  Should I even bother to look?  Also, you're moving rather quickly - maybe it really isn't a great house.

Our two children each have their own bedroom
Very cute way of stating that it is a three-bedroom house.  I'll give an 'A' for effort and creativity. But, do you want the world knowing your two young children are all alone in their rooms at night?  In a ranch home where the windows are on ground level?  Have you never heard of Polly Klaas?

We have a small office
So, if the office is so small, I can only assume all the rooms are small.

In three years, we've replaced the roof, the driveway, the appliances...
Great!  New stuff is always a bonus.  But why so many replacements in such a short period of time?  What else was wrong with the house?  What else may still be wrong with the house?  Were other items updated or replaced, or is the rest of the house a dated mess right out of That 70's Show?

Located on a dead end street
It's a cul-de-sac!  It's a cul-de-sac!  Or, at least call it a "court".  Why associate your home with anything that's dead?

The kids are safe when they walk or ride their bikes
Great!  They'll never get hit by a car!  They'll never be kidnapped!  I'll never have to watch my kids again!  I'll also have to sue you when they get hurt or worse...
And what if my kids are not physically able to walk or ride a bike?  Are disabled kids discriminated against by not being allowed?

The schools are the best in the US.
By what standards?  Who says so?  Does this mean higher taxes?  I wonder what will happen if our experience with the schools is not the same as yours...

The town is safe.
Great!  I'll never have to worry about crime!   I'll never have to lock my doors!  You also know what I may have to do when my home is robbed or my car is stolen or I'm the victim of some other random crime...

The people are friendly.
Wow.  That's wonderful.  No more annoying neighbors.  I wonder what I'll do when I find out I don't like the person living next door...Or when I find out the local store owner is mean to me...  My attorneys are going to have a field day...

Your kids should go to school here and grow up here.
But, I don't have any kids.  Does that mean I can't buy your house?  Darn.  I really wanted your house but now you've told me that I can't buy it.  Why would you discriminate against me like that?

Our new baby Sallie Anne...
Yes, they included the baby's name - and even her birth date.  What if the wrong person saw this...  Let's go back to the Polly Klaas page right now for an immediate refresher.

"There are only three bedrooms." (this was a direct quote)
Oh, so it is a small house, since it "only" has three bedrooms.  Just like I thought after reading about the "small office."

We've already bought our new house.
Now I know they're desperate!  They have mortgages on two homes right now.  I'll go in with a ridiculously low offer.  They'll have to negotiate with me so they can get rid of these payments!

Visit our open house.  I'll be here with the kids but we'll have plenty of time to show you the house.
Yikes.  Buyers don't like to look at homes when the sellers are there.  It's uncomfortable, and you can't discuss the pros and cons of the homes freely.  They feel like they're intruding on your space.  Even agents prefer not to have the sellers there when we show homes.  And now there are going to be kids there, too?  Too much activity going on there.  How am I going to be able to take the time to decide if this will be my new home if I have the sellers and a bunch of kids I don't know running around the place?

Let's also look at the safety issue here...you'll be home with the kids...your front door will be open...there may be lots of activity if other people show up, too.  Not smart.  The safety of children should be of the utmost importance.  These sellers have now told strangers to come and visit and meet their little children.  Back to the Polly Klaas page we go...

Bring your kids, too.
But I don't have kids.  Am I now not welcome?  Why do you keep discriminating?

See if your kids want to live here.
See the above response...

Anyone selling a home must be knowledgeable not only about marketing and safety issues - not to mention negotiating, real estate laws, local real estate customs, pricing, etc. - but perhaps more importantly, they must be knowledgeable of Federal, State and Local Fair Housing laws.
Sell the house.  Market the house.  Not those who live there or who should live there.

I've read this ad several times.  Each time I'm as amazed as the first time I read it.

These sellers need a REALTOR.  They needed a REALTOR last week before this ad went out.
They're located outside of my market area, so I will not be pursuing them.  Hopefully, another agent saw this ad and will come to their rescue.  Or, maybe some day some one's attorney really will have a field day with this...


Don Fabrizio-Garcia, REALTOR
Connecticut Real Estate & Appraisals
CT Home Group
Keller Williams CT Realty
Connecticut Real Estate and Homes for Sale

Comment balloon 4 commentsDon Fabrizio-Garcia • September 26 2007 09:41AM


This FSBO seller is truly clue less.  They likely think there add was great, and the very few if any people who showed up is because we Realtors some how stopped them from coming. 

Perhaps some predators will come along and kidnap the clue less parents and allow the children to be raised by people who actually use their brains. (Just kidding with the last statement but I have talked to people in the past and walked away thinking, the poor children are going to grow up to be just like these idiots). 

Posted by New Jersey Real Estate James Boyer Morris, Essex & Union County NJ Realtor (RE/MAX Properties Unlimited, Real Estate) almost 11 years ago
Yep, some of those comments are big no-nos. Let's see how many more of those ads go in the paper before they finally get an agent
Posted by Craig Smith, Frederick MD Real Estate (Re/Max Achievers) almost 11 years ago
You're right on with this one Don.  In the FSBO minds, they're being upfront and honest.  While that may attract a propsective Buyer every once and a while, that prospective Buyer already knows too much about everything.  These Sellers have clearly lost their negotiation leverage. 
Posted by Martinelli Caputi, & Associates, Ltd. (Martinelli Caputi & Associates, Ltd.) almost 11 years ago

James - I don't wish any harm on these people - and I do get that you were joking - but Fair Hosing laws aside, they really put out too much information about their young children.  I'm still amazed.

Craig - These ads are expensive.  But, what's money when they're saving real estate commissions...and losing any negotiating advantage...and will not have an representation...and are possibly putting their children in harm's way...and are open themselves up to a myriad of potential Fair Housing lawsuits.

Richard - Knowing all this information, if I had a buyer for this house (it is not an area I usually work in) then I would have no choice but to advise them to low-ball their offer...and I'm not even a fan of low-ball offers, but rather prefer fair offers where everyone wins.


Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 11 years ago