Expireds and FSBOs: Two of the most challenging listings to pursue. Owners of expired listings are disillusioned and typically a bit grumpy.
The FSBO seller usually thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room (you know the type). He watched an HGTV show on selling a house and now knows everything there is to know. Too bad his sales price doesn’t end up reflecting that superior knowledge.
There is a ton of information online about how to approach both of these sellers, with scripts and dialogs, suggestions of “leave-behinds” and more.
And every other real estate agent in town is using those identical techniques
How many times does a homeowner need to pick up the phone and be asked “When do you plan on interviewing the right agent for the job of selling your home?” before wanting to puke every time another agent calls?
Let’s freshen up the pursuit of expired listings. Tweak that expired listing packet just a touch, and dump the stuff that makes homeowners’ eyes roll.
There’s a lot of competition out there
Finding expired listing leads is easy, and that’s the problem. Go to the MLS and pull up the data. Any agent can do it. And many, many do.
In the popular pursuit for instant business, agents clamor after expireds.
Then, there are investors to compete against. Type “expired listings investors” into a Google search box and it returns 1,830,000 results. Popular topic, right?
“Given that level of opportunity, many real estate investors make prospecting for expired listings a regular part of their business plan …” according to Tara Mastroeni at Fool.com.
She goes on to remind her investor reader that many real estate agents also prospect expired listings to there’s lots of information online about how to go about it.
In other words, the investor should do what everyone else is doing. Silly wabbit.
The bottom line in her advice, however, is that they should send an “expired listing letter.”
So, there you have it: You’ll have tons of competition. But, they’ll mostly all be working the same, lame prospecting routines.
Which gives you a chance to stand out among all of them with an expired listing packet.
The expired listing packet
Why do agents use an expired listing packet or hold a buyer’s consultation? Yes, to educate the prospect, but also to create a good first impression.
To accomplish the later requires knowing your audience: A homeowner who wanted or needed to sell her home.
Statistics teach us that she may have chosen the first agent she spoke with. The home didn’t sell within the listing contract’s time period.
Other than those facts, you know nothing about the seller, not who she chose as her listing agent, her motivation for selling, why the home didn’t sell and her current state of mind.
Most coaches and other advice givers automatically assume the agent was incompetent and that may well be. That agent might also be the seller’s mother or aunt or brother.
These advisers will also tell you that these sellers are angry and frustrated. This may or may not be true, but to approach them as if it is true isn’t wise.
Don’t assume anything about the owner of the expired listing except the aforementioned facts.
Take a drive by the home, check out the neighborhood too. While you’re there, snap a good, clear photo of the home’s exterior.
Back at the office, download the listing. Peruse the listing remarks and the photos through the eyes of a marketer. Is it polished and professional? If it’s not, the seller may have not been getting much traffic through the home.
Run a quick CMA to determine if the price was right. Your CMA may not be as accurate as if you’d seen the interior of the home in person, but it will give you a good ballpark figure to start with.
If the seller’s price was too high, don’t assume the agent bought the listing. Remember, you don’t know this seller. It may have been priced too high at her insistence.
Now you’re armed with a few assumptions you can work with:
- The listing wasn’t compelling
- The photos were awful
- The price was too high
- A potential sale (or more than one) fell through.
- The home is dated (from the listing photos), or dirty or whatever
Some or all of these may be pertinent for your presentation.
Gather up anything that proves your experience in the neighborhood (or with homes in the seller’s price range), such as listing printouts. You’ll also want your best testimonials, your marketing plan (and samples of how you’ve marketed homes in the past), a description of the current market and your pricing philosophy.
If there is any other information that makes you stand out in the crowd of other agents, include it. Now, organize the pieces in a logical order.
Write a cover letter that outlines what’s enclosed in the packet, in the order they’ll find the information, your pricing philosophy and opinion of how the home was priced with the other agent. Then, go through the packet to ensure every item looks polished and professional. Finally, don’t forget to ask for an appointment.
That photo you snapped while touring the neighborhood? Attach that to the front of the packet for a personalized look.
Pursuing expired listings isn’t for everyone, although it seems like everyone is doing it. If done right, however, a good expired listing packet is one of the few real estate lead gen methods that has a quick turnaround.