To have success with this system, it requires the ability to time block, commit to consistent execution, knowledge that rejection is part of the path to success, and a dialogue that inspires confidence.
The volume of expired listings will ebb and flow with market conditions. Keep a watchful eye on the market. When time on market increases and you see that we move into a strong buyers market (more than six months of inventory), you can be sure that expired listings will be in good supply. As market conditions improve, the number of expireds will decrease (*hint: that also means For Sale By Owners will be increasing in supply).
Finding & Communicating With The Expired Listing
Good Ole Cold Calling
There are a few ways to find listings that have expired. You can subscribe to various services such as RedX, Vulcan7, and Landvoice. If you intend to cold call as your primary method, selecting one of these services is a must.
These services all have pros and cons, but generally they provide the list of phone numbers and addresses for the expired listings. They cross reference them with the new listings to update the system if the homeowner has relisted. Vulcan7 is the most expensive at around $200 a month, but they do they best job of finding all phone numbers, including cells. Vulcan7 also limits the number of agents they serve in a given market. RedX is around $60.
It’s important to pay attention to those that are on the do-not-call lists. Legally, you will have to find another method (mail or door knock) to reach out to those homeowners.
Rock the Door Knock
In some ways, I’m actually partial to this strategy because one has a higher likelihood of a face-to-face meeting. That is always superior over a mail piece or a phone call.
Determine the geography that you are committed to working. Don’t pick an entire city. Start with a zip code. Certainly, if you are farming, there should never be an expired listing in your farm that you don’t door knock the day it expires.
Watch your area like a hawk. Set up a hotsheet within Fusion and make it your morning ritual. If they don’t answer, make sure you have a leave behind message, and come back again.
Click HERE for easy step-by-step instructions on how to swiftly look up Expired Listings in your target area.
This method will require a little more check equity, but agents tend to be partial to it because it feels ‘safe’. Rejection by mail is a certainly painless. It also is the toughest strategy to deploy successfully because it requires the right messaging, repetition, and volume.
I’ve seen various forms of a mail system with varying types of pieces (letters, postcards) and varying frequency. Obviously, mailing day one of the expiration is a must. Again, repetition is key here and if you continue to mail, when every other agent has moved on, you will still be reaching out.
Select Your Method
You may find that a combination of the above methods works best. One critical piece of advice: when designing a system based on your budget, time, and personality avoid telling yourself a story.
For example, “I can’t knock on their door; it’s too intrusive,” or “They’re getting tons of marketing materials, and mine has to be highly polished to stand out.” These stories can prevent us from being in action and they become a perceived reality that may not entirely be true.
Note this expired seller’s remarks on Trulia:
One Seller’s perspective: I have deliberately let my listing expire and I am using the time to talk with agents, rethink my pricing and marketing plan. I am on the do not call list, and other than agents who know me personally and know that their calls are welcome, not one has called me. So kudos to my local agents.
However, this is unfortunate for me in that I really am looking to talk with agents. I have received some solicitations by mail which I don’t mind at all. I will be phoning some agents with whom I want to discuss the listing. However, if an agent had the initiative to knock on my door, I would invite them in and be more than happy to discuss the house.They move up a bit in ranking because I already know that they work hard and take the initiative. I am an early riser but would still strongly prefer no doorbell ringing before 9 AM. And the approach counts: If an agent asks me if this is a good time to talk, I am much more likely to make an appt for another time if it is if fact a bad time.
One sugestion (sic) that I have is to make any marketing material specific, not generic. One agent wrote me a letter that was personal and specific and I plan to phone them. Another agent mailed me a generic glossy brochure on why houses don’t sell but it came off as know it all and so did he. Many Sellers are pretty savvy and ‘Selling your House for Dummies” brochures have a negative effect. (Emphasis mine)
Types of Expired Listings
There are four types of expired listings. It’s important to understand the mindset of each so that you can identify them and tailor your dialogue to align yourself with the seller.
No Longer Moving
May or may not be a lead, but it will require longterm follow up strategies.
Their circumstances may have changed making the move unnecessary or undesirable. Maybe they were getting a divorce, and they have changed their minds. Maybe the job requiring the relocation didn’t come through. They might have been overly optimistic about market conditions, and have subsequently decided that they don’t want to sell if they can’t get the price they had hoped to get when they listed.
Just be aware, even if they are no longer moving today, some of the original impetus to list, may resurface some time in the future. When you establish contact, continue to be a resource. Add them to your mailing list, and try to add them to your auto notifications and anniversary CMA program.
Taking a Break
This is a lead that requires diligent follow up.
We’ve all seen a seller decide to take a break from the stressful process of selling. It may be upcoming holidays, or personal events like an upcoming birth, family visits, or celebrations. They may also be taking a break in the hopes of improved market conditions.
They may be intending to relist with their previous agent, or they may be open to exploring their options at a later time. If they love and are committed to their previous agent, don’t diminish the value of that relationship. It never will endear you to that seller.
Your intention is always to align yourself with the seller’s intention, and remain sympathetic to their goals and their relationships. An appropriate response might be, “I completely appreciate the kind of commitment your have to your agent. That’s the kind of relationship I try to earn with my clients. If anything should ever change, I would love an opportunity to earn that business, but I do appreciate your loyalty.” Follow up with a thank you, and your business card.
If you sense that they may be open to interviewing other agents, you might say, “I appreciate your desire to take a break. The listing process can be stressful. When you’re ready, I’d love an opportunity to share with you what I do for my sellers that helps them to sell quickly, and minimize the strain of having their home on the market. May I stay in touch with you periodically?”
Relisting – They’ve Already Selected Their Agent
This is not a lead.
Many motivated sellers know their listing contract period is coming to an end, and they may already have developed their strategy for their next listing prior to their listing expiring. If that is the case, they may have already interviewed for their next agent before the expiration of their listing. In some cases, they’ve already committed to relisting with their previous agent, or a different agent.
If they have already made the decision, I find that debating that decision doesn’t serve. If we debate the wiseness of their choice, we find ourselves in an adversarial conversation with the seller. That doesn’t build the rapport needed to earn the business.
Bow out gracefully. “I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, and if anything changes, of course, I’d love an opportunity to earn your business in the future. I wish you the very best in the sale of your home.” Follow up with a gracious thank you note, and include your business card. That graciousness may earn you business that you’d never expect, or maybe a future listing.
Relisting … And Interviewing
This is a lead. Go for the appointment.
Some sellers feel dissatisfied with the experience they have had trying to sell their home. That dissatisfaction may revolve around frustrations with their previous agent. Very often that dissatisfaction comes from lack of communication and follow up.
We also know that the seller often has something wrong with their listing. Photography and copy are the first place to look. You may also notice that the property has challenges, or the property’s position (price) has challenges. In some cases, the previous agent may not have been strong enough in counseling the client.
Derogatory comments about the previous agent won’t win you clients. It diminishes you as a professional in the industry, as well as making the seller ‘wrong’ for their initial selection of an agent. Rather than engaging in a disparaging conversation about the previous agent, keep the focus on the opportunities and differences that the seller might experience by listing with you.
Align yourself with their goals and intention. And, get the appointment. “I understand that you certainly haven’t had the outcome you’d hoped to experience. It’s frustrating; I get it. You will be contacted by a lot of agents hoping to earn your business over the next few weeks. It may feel overwhelming. I really believe that I can show you somethings we can improve upon the next time around to position you for success. I’d love an opportunity to share those ideas with you and potentially earn your business. Are evenings or afternoons a better time for to sit down and chat?”
Dialogues That Work
Understanding what you want to say, and how you say it are critical. Listening, active listening is even more critical. One thing that I have learned: my dialogue has to come from a place that I feel good about, and connect with completely. That doesn’t mean that I was comfortable at the outset. I had to learn what felt good to me, and what seemed to get positive results with the prospect.
So how to you find your perfect dialogue? Read all kinds of options. Practice them. Use them. Refine them. You’ll know when you hit that sweet spot. You will find that people respond, and you feel good. That’s what you are looking for, and that will take time, practice and execution to refine.
Here are some samples:
Realtor.com – includes various samples from different Realtors
Follow Up for the Win
Agents that succeed with an expired listing strategy know that the short and long term follow up is what will win the listing. Keep in mind, the seller hasn’t had success previously. They are guarded and wary of making another mistake. Some of them may take a fair amount of time before committing themselves to another real estate agent.
Consistent follow up is key. Adding them to your mailing list, and adding them to your auto notifications and anniversary CMA program helps. But, the key is to focus on the client’s goals, not the goal of simply securing the listing. Coming from a place of service and a genuine belief and that you can help them achieve their goals inspires seller confidence.
If the seller’s intention is to immediately relist, secure the appointment. Come with a strong listing presentation, an educated assessment of market conditions (Ken’s market reports being a great place to start), and a willingness to listen, and a strong voice. They need an honest assessment of how things can be improved this time around. Listen, with an ear to how they were dissatisfied, and how you can make that different this time around.
Mindset & Skills For Success
Working an Expired Listing System requires a strong mindset and skills. This isn’t something to dabble in simply when you are low in listing inventory. Those that work it consistently understand the mindset of the client, and are comfortable with the dialogue and the follow up required for success.
Once you have determined your area/geography of focus, it needs to become part of your week. Block the time to execute the system. If you decide to make expired listings part of your overall business plan have integrity with the appointment. Stick to it, and work it week in, week out.
Part of this post is about assessing the potential with a seller. Some are leads, some are not. Rejection is simply part of it. If you understand that this is about the number of conversations you will have, and that some of them will be interested in exploring options for their next REALTOR, then it becomes easier to handle the ‘no’s’ that you inevitably encounter.
You’re Planting Seeds
Occasionally you will find that seller that wants to relist and will interview you right away. More often you may find that you are planting the seeds for future opportunities. The key is to stick with the process even if you don’t see the short term success. Build your database. Follow up. And keep executing. Success will inevitably follow!
As always, if you have questions about how to execute this system, make an appointment with me.