As a real estate agent, it is imperative that you learn how to convert expired listings.
If you don’t have a large budget for lead generation or just want to keep your pipeline full, expired listings are part of the “low-hanging fruit” that agents should target to generate new leads and listings.
Converting expired listings can be very rewarding – but you have to know how.
Imagine walking into a room full of people – all with their hands raised – asking to do business with you!
That’s what expired listings are.
They are people who, by the very fact that they had listed their home previously, are interested in real estate services.
But they have been disappointed.
Your job is to find out why, offer to help and set them on a corrective course of action that enables them to reach their goals.
It all starts with having the right tools.
Develop your expired listing toolkit
If there was anything I remember from my days as a Boy Scout, it was the motto, “Be Prepared”.
As an agent looking to attract and convert expired listings, this means having all of the necessary marketing tools designed and ready to send as soon as you find an expired listing you want to pursue.
A delay of one or two days may be the difference between you getting an audience with the homeowner or losing the opportunity altogether.
At a minimum, your expired listing toolkit should include;
- A contact letter or email template that enables you to respond quickly
- Your pre-listing presentation
- A collection of well-written testimonial letters – saved as .pdf files
In the next section, we will discuss creating a contact letter or email.
If you do not have a strong pre-listing presentation, I encourage you to get a copy of my free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Pre-Listing Presentations. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to create a compelling presentation and includes resources and a copy of the exact presentation I used.
I collected testimonial letters from every client and saved them as .pdf files so they could be printed and mailed or sent by email.
If you aren’t sure how to get well-written testimonials, click on the link for an instructional video.
It helps to keep your testimonials organized based on the client’s situation, such as expired listings, so that you can find the appropriate testimonials quickly.
Contacting the homeowner
The fastest way to convert expired listings is to reach the homeowner as soon as the listing has lapsed.
There are a few ways to accomplish this, including using a letter, an email, a phone call or simply dropping by in person.
Using a letter or email
There are as many variations of effective letters as there are pine trees in Georgia, however this is the version I used successfully for years;
What made this letter effective was that it included several proven copywriting techniques, including;
- An attention-grabbing headline displayed in a bold font.
- A no-obligation offer for the exchange of my knowledge for 15 minutes of the homeowner’s time.
- A demonstrated track record – 400 sold homes.
- A bulleted list of unique services and how the homeowner would benefit.
- A call-to-action that peaks their curiosity – spending 15 minutes to find out why their home hasn’t sold.
- Including 2-3 testimonials from their peer group stating how I helped them, providing social proof.
You can also follow the same formula to send the homeowner an email.
The testimonial letters can be attached as .pdf files and sent along with the email.
There are several ways to find a homeowner’s email address, including;
- Using online email search tools such as Hunter or Anymail Finder.
- Searching social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Searching for the person’s name with “email” in Google.
- And if you’ve exhausted these options with no success, here’s a list of 14 additional tools to help you locate the homeowner’s email.
Contacting the homeowner by phone
One of the biggest failures I see when agents attempt to convert expired listings is that they say something stupid as soon as the homeowner answers the phone.
It’s typically a question such as, “I guess you know your home is no longer actively listed in the MLS?” or, even worse, “When are you going to hire the right agent to sell your home?”
Here’s the thing; they already know their listing has expired and they aren’t happy about it. You’re probably not the first Realtor to have contacted them.
So in the very few instances where I ever cold-called, I got straight to the point; “Mrs. Jones, this is Greg Lyles with Conrad Lyles Realtors. Can I help you get your home sold?”
Most of the time they said they weren’t sure or didn’t know.
I simply asked them if they were still interested in selling.
That opened the door for me to pre-qualify them as a potential client.
Qualifying the homeowner
If the homeowner stated that they were still interested in selling, my next series of questions were designed to identify the cause of the problem and to assess the homeowner’s motivation.
The first question I asked was, “Why do you think your home didn’t sell?”
This provided the homeowner with a chance to vent – and it also provided me with critical information that I would use to position my services to accomplish what their previous agent hadn’t.
Then I would ask if they received many showings.
If a home didn’t receive a reasonable number of showings, it was probably overpriced.
I would then ask if they had received any offers.
The absence of offers can also indicate that the home was overpriced or was not presented well. This could signal repair issues or something as simple as the need for staging.
I would also ask them if they were willing to do anything different to get their home sold.
Their answer revealed a lot about how motivated they were and how easy they would be to work with.
At this point I would make my offer – what I called the “Fair Trade”.
I would tell the homeowner that I had sold hundreds of homes, many of them expired listings, and suggest that if they give me 15 minutes of their time, I would determine exactly why their home hadn’t sold and explain what must be done to get it sold on their terms – even if they chose not to hire me.
Then I would ask, “Does that sound fair to you?”
Most people want to play by the “rules of fairness” and were very curious to know what I could tell them after 15 minutes that their previous agent had missed.
The qualifying questions I had asked told me much of what I needed to know;
- If they didn’t get showings, it was either marketing or price that kept them from selling.
- If they got showings, but no offers, the problem was either price or condition.
- If they got offers and those offers fell through, it was usually either due to the appraisal or inspection – again, price or condition.
By visiting the property, I could determine if condition was the primary challenge and, if so, what needed to be done to correct the problem. Of, if condition was not the problem, how much to adjust the price to get the home sold.
Once the seller agreed to let me come out, I would let them know that I was going to send them some information that would help them understand how buyers would evaluate their home and present several ideas for how to make their home stand out from the competition.
This was my pre-listing presentation.
I included 2-3 testimonial letters that reflected how I had helped clients overcome similar situations that the homeowner was facing.
The in-person appointment
When you arrive at the seller’s home, keep in mind that you are still somewhat of a stranger to them.
They need time to get to know you and feel comfortable with you.
Typically we would go to the kitchen or family room – wherever the family conducts business – and talk.
I let them talk about anything they wanted until they brought up the subject of real estate.
This is your signal that they are comfortable with you and ready to talk business.
At this point, I would ask them to take me on a tour of their home, to show me what they loved about living there.
As you go through the house, point out ideas for making the house show better.
You can use assumptive closes, such as, “If I was showing your home to a prospective buyer, I would open these drapes so they can see your beautiful back yard.”
“This is a beautiful chandelier. If I had a buyer looking at your home, should I tell them that this is staying with the home – or are you planning to take it with you to your next home?”
After the tour, we typically returned to the kitchen or wherever we had been meeting when I first arrived.
I would ask, “You mentioned that you had a chance to review the information I sent over earlier (my pre-listing presentation and testimonials). Do you have any questions about my approach or my track record?”
I purposely limited my question to those two topics as my track record spoke for itself. This focused their questions on my approach.
You’re probably thinking, I thought you said you were only going to give them your input on what it would take to get their home sold.
Here’s how to transition to the close.
Go for the close!
When I asked the homeowner if they had any questions about my approach or track record, the most common response was “We thought you were just going to tell us what we need to do to get our home sold.”
I would respond, “You’re right. It’s just that you have a beautiful home and I am confident I can get it sold quickly. I’ve sold dozens of homes for sellers in your situation. Is there anything that would prevent you from working with me to get your home sold?”
Your ability to overcome objections will partially determine whether you will convert expired listings successfully.
The other factors that will determine your success at converting expired listings is having a compelling pre-listing presentation, strong testimonials and presenting a plan for getting the home sold.
With the right tools, and approach, you can convert a high percentage of expired listings to signed listings and see your business, and income, grow.