John Steward of Jesus
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"For Sale by Owner"

December, 1979

The emotional risks of the FSBO(”For Sale by Owner”)

The FSBO makes the mistake of trying to conduct business in an atmosphere charged with territorial emotions. Each of us identifies some place on this earth—-however small (bed, room, house, house with yard) as his territory. We defend this territory to any necessary extreme. We usually call this territory, or a larger territory, “home.” A homeowner become FSBO is showing his territory to a potential taker. If the homeowner has already moved his “home” elsewhere, the house is a burden preventing enjoyment of the other “home” territory, and he will not be able to conceal his hope of relieving himself of the burden. The potential taker will be happy to oblige him--at an opportune price. If the homeowner has not moved his territory, the taker represents a threat to the homeowner’s security, and the homeowner will have some resentment of this fact. He will be on guard. He will watch for any indication that the taker is pushing him, react instinctively like an animal whose territory is threatened, and raise emotional blocks to any transaction. Nobody threatens someone defending a territory, except as a final measure.

Now consider the buyer. If he cannot imagine himself--even for a short time--as being at “home” on the property, he will not become a buyer who will pay the best price. He will only buy on logic--he will make a cold calculation of value. He will not become the optimum buyer On the other hand, if he does picture himself at “home” in the property, he immediately senses that someone is occupying the territory. He must displace that owner. But that owner may not cooperate. The owner thus becomes a block, and in that sense a threat to the buyer’s future territory--his future home. It is business folly for the person who is in fact such a threat to the best buyers to be the same person to try to negotiate the terms of such a purchase. The seller’s well is poisoned before he speaks. The parties are negotiating while sitting on emotional powder-kegs. There is no emotion as strong as the territorial emotion. When skillfully channeled by an effective agent, it results in the elation of all parties. When the emotion rises in the presence of a felt threat, it may cause complete frustration for all parties concerned.