Working Expireds

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lockwood Real Estate

I worked with a newer agent in my company lately about how I used to work expireds.  Admittedly, I didn't do it very long (before shifting focus for awhile and later getting good success in Internet marketing) but I did get good results when I did it.   Owners whose listings have expired have proven that they're willing to work with an agent -- now they may need a good one to finally get the job done.  And hey, that's you!  

There are many systems out there for doing this.  Just Google "working expireds" or "expired listings scripts" and you'll find lots of good ideas.  How I did it hardly rises to the level of a system, but I can say it did make me some money, and if the Internet were to explode tomorrow or something, it's probably what I'd immediately think about falling back on.

So here it is, step by step:

  1. Go into MLS and find a bunch of expireds for your market area.  They don't all need to be recent.  Go back six months or so, and see if you can identify maybe 50-100 expired listings in an area you'd like to work.
  2. Once you have a list, check it against those that have listed or sold since then, and eliminate those. In some MLS systems, you can use the "property history" feature to do this, but I haven't always found this to be completely reliable.
  3. Now you have a list of expireds who haven't relisted.  If you just want to mail, use the a title company or other tool to look up the tax record on the home and find out the mailing address.  I prefer calling -- so at this point I would do the following.  First, see if you can find the phone number, either left in the listing (it happens) or from a phone lookup service like the (free)  Next, make sure you check that the number is not on the do not call list.  (Ask your broker how to look this up in your company).
  4. Got some expired listings not on the do not call list?  Good, print out the full MLS printout (agent copy), and staple the tax roll to that.  On the front, staple an expired listing worksheet.
  5. Your job now is to call and mail this group.  I recommend looking over the listing and tax roll first -- often you can figure out why the listing may have expired, but you'll still want to ask the seller why he / she thought it expired.
  6. My favorite script is below.  Modify to suit and check out the resources on the Internet.

"Hello, is this Mr. / Ms. __________?  Hello, this is So and So, from Such and Such real estate.  Is now a good time to talk about your home listing?"  (If yes)...  "I was looking in our MLS and I noticed that the listing on your home had expired, and I was wondering if you still wanted to sell?"  At this point you may find that they're planning on listing with their agent, or if not, you can ask them about why they thought it didn't sell, etc.  You might also offer some tips on what you learned from the listing, being careful not to blame them for anything for anything, but asking questions like, "I see your 2 bedroom condo is listed for eighty-five million.  Did your agent suggest that price?"  or "I see your home was appointment only.  Did you ever consider perhaps having a lockbox installed?"

If you don't quite get this far, that's OK, mark them down in your worksheet to follow up later.  Don't be afraid to leave voice-mail, or send them a note as well.  You should plan on a handwritten thank you if anyone spends a little time with you.  Always.  Use the worksheet to track what you're doing on each house.

There are lots of other scripts and dialogs avaiable.  Here's a great article from Realty Times, for example.



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David Slavin
Keller Williams Premier - Katy, TX
CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier
Thanks for the tip.  I will give it a try.
Jul 17, 2007 04:43 AM #15
Art Blanchet
On the Outside Lookin' In - Sebastian, FL
Stranger in a Warm Land

Hey John,

Read your script - pretty disarming.  Nice and low key.  If I may expand a teeeny bit with the questions - some stuff I learned the really hard way.  (Please delete this if offended and it will be our secret.  If you like it steal it and use it later...)

In the conversation - as you, said, if you get that far, might I suggest two things:

  1. Try to keep the questions open-ended rather than yes/no.  Perhaps a "How did you decide on $85 million?" or "What kind of response did you get from those who toured your home?" or "What do you think you'd do differently when choosing a listing agent?" (which should give you lots of answers)  These extend the conversation a bit more and makes them think about THEMSELVES and their situation rather than what you are "selling."  You get the idea.
  2. Perhaps offer them FSBO tips - for free - which will generate a couple reactions.  If YES, then you build trust as the Buyers Agent for their next house.  If NO, then they know you are trying to help them, not sell them.  "You know, there are lots of places online where people look to buy real estate, what do you know about places like Trulia, Zillow, CraigsList, etc? (open-ended).  We realtors use them all the time."  By the time they spend the hours looking at those places, and list their property, they are ready for the calvary - YOU!  And you are backing into a possible listing by giving them something for nothing and STILL proving you are wise and knowledgeable.  (Obey your RE laws, of course - no  paperwork and such.)
  3. Suggest you'll be in their neighborhood on business a couple of days later in the week (or tomorrow - but not too distant).  Ask if they wouldn't mind you "stopping by" while you're around so you can take a quick look at the place so you can a) check it out for YOUR potential buyers or b) make sure they got it set up right (staged) for buyers or c) you want people to know about the home in your neighborhood (it's YOUR turf) so you can put it on your website (an active rain blog) to let folks know about it.  Again - the point is to be casual and helpful and professional.  Your personal "read" on them is best - do it your way.

You could bring buy a little nothing treat or wildflowers or subway coupons you happened to get and didn't need - Subway loves people to hand out their stuff.  Or some other vendor or nothing.

Whatever - it has to fit you and your style.  Patience and helpful - with true intent to aid in some way - mingled with technique - helps.

I will throw the following out there, too - every time I have taken the time to do this, I have gotten at least ONE qualified lead per hour.  Make up a little flier stating what you do (you list and sell homes) - I did it for mortgages, so I'll tell what I did...

I had a flyer introducing myself briefly and how I could help.  Not much, mostly contact info and nice.  I'd park my car at the mall - during the day when "adults" work.  I'd get out, walk in, and start hitting stores and kiosks.  I'd walk up to the counter - but wait back a bit until all customers were taken care of.  I then would hand them my flyer as I was speaking - manager, clerk - didn't matter - and tell them I was in the mall today letting the workers know of my business and that I "didn't want to waste any of their time."  I just wanted them to know they were busy, so I thought I'd stop by their work and give them some info just in case they needed a home loan.  ("We're all so busy.") Then I'd thank them, ask them to call (point to the flier) or email (point to the address) if they had any questions whatsoever.  I'd say, "we help lots of people that are busy just like you," thank them, and walk out.

If I hit it right (NOT lunch hour and not too close to closing or yawwwwwnopening), somebody would ask me some questions on the spot and hand me a card or similar.  I think this works because people are busier at home then at work, they will talk on the company dime, the managers in retail have NO time to do anything and see you as a blessing or a curse, and the approach is disarming.  And I just handed out 4 or 5 dozen ("Could you please put this in you break room so I can help others?") flyers in a couple of hours.

I know this isn't about expired listings - but it could be.  There will be questions asked.  "Snorkelface Subdivision?  I think we just were thru there last week - sorry I missed you!"  Blah blah blah $$$ blah.

That's all I got now.  (Boy did I ramble!) You know what they say - if advice were worth anything - people wouldn't be GIVING it away.

Keep up the great work!!

Jul 17, 2007 03:20 PM #16
John Lockwood
Lockwood Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Not offended at all, Art, but a bit too tired to do it justice.  Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment -- practically a post in itself!
Jul 17, 2007 05:16 PM #17
Dawn Workman
Veracity Real Estate Group, LLC - Camas, WA
Camas Real Estate Expert, MBA, 480-540-8100
Great post, and mini-post- Art :)  I have bookmarked it for later use.  Thanks!!
Jul 17, 2007 07:35 PM #18
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

Great, great post.  I have bookmarked and will come back to it - I am sure.  Some great comments and ideas.  I am presently working expired and was just about to get discouraged.  But good thing about me is that my discouragement does not last long, and I am back to it in no time at all.

I have been doing most of this but the script is good and I am not sure I really had a consistent system and I know that is important.

I rated this a 4.  This is information that can help us all in our business and right now good tips like this is very useful. I would have posted this is in more groups for more exposure.



Jul 19, 2007 04:05 PM #19
Joshua Lazaro, serving New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Area!!!
Prudential Gardner, Realtors - Kenner, LA
John, do you find that the majority of expireds are ready to re-list? I have no experience with expireds and I was wondering about the ones that were angry that their homes didn't sell through a realtor and decided to go FSBO. Four or five of the FSBOs I've tried to list told horror stories about their agents. Has that been a common situation with you? Do you leave those alone or do you try to convince them that you won't be a repeat of their bad realtor experiences??
Jul 19, 2007 04:41 PM #20
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents
I find this post very timely and not forgetting Art's comments too. I want to build up my confidence to speak to Expireds and FSBOs.
Jul 20, 2007 03:53 PM #21
Nicholas Christopher
Century 21 Rauh & Johns - Gloucester Twp, NJ
Communication Is Key
I've been doing a similar method. My approach was to mail to any expired that were recent. However I've had 0 success with it. I feel as though it is better to talk to someone in person. Lets face it these people are receiving at least 10 letters like these. If you can put a name with a face it goes a lot further. If the mailing works for you by all means go for it. I'm just saying it didn't work well for me.
Jul 21, 2007 02:36 AM #22
Katy Crofts
Keller Williams Realty - Olympia - Olympia, WA
Realtor - Olympia, WA
I've just started working expireds (I've made only a few phone calls), as it has seemed intimidating to me for some reason. I spent some time with my coach talking about it. We talked about scripts (similar to those mentioned earlier) which was helpful. But the main advice that he gave me which helped tremendously was just get the appointment. Sure, you want to build rapport over the phone, but the main objective is to get the appointment and get in front of the seller. Then you can work your magic with your scripts! We'll see how it works!
Jul 23, 2007 04:28 AM #23
Max Douge
Exit Realty Enterprises - Frederick, MD

John... I like your recommendations.  Could you please share what your success rate is, on average, per month using your recommendations?  For example, how many bonafide leads from your initial list?... how many listings from your initial list?... etc.  Thanks.

Jul 31, 2007 01:48 AM #24
Irene Robertson
Keller Williams Realty - Ridgewood, NY
Great post. I am bookmarking this for future use. As a new agent, having this step-by-step instruction on how to go after the expireds is going to be a terrific help.
Jul 31, 2007 09:16 AM #25
Donna Lueder
Integrity Group Inc. - Boise, ID
Meridian Idaho Real Estate
Great suggestions, way to go back to the basics, one never knows when something might pan out and then who knows what may come from there.
Aug 06, 2007 03:21 AM #26
john golymbieski
c21 access america - Watertown, CT
thanks i'm pretty new and i have been working expires for a while i like them and they are alot easier than fsbo's
Aug 07, 2007 08:23 AM #27
Kathie Stokes ~ Tallahassee, Florida
Century 21 First Realty - Tallahassee, FL
Thanks for the great information and the encouragement! 
Aug 08, 2007 03:22 PM #28
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Professionals - Olympia, WA

My experience with expired in my market is that by the time I call them (by 10am) they have been bombarded with other agents calling. We are not supposed to call prior to 9am and I do not want to hit them first thing in the morning..... Perhaps I need to adjust my thinking. 


Does anyone have any suggestions on how to be different that the other agents calling looking to help them out? I get the feeling that it is a feeding frenzy and the expired listing owner is simply overwhelmed when we all come out of the woodwork looking for that new listing. I love it when they ask me "Where were you when the house was on the market?" 





Aug 13, 2007 10:00 AM #29
John Lockwood
Lockwood Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Did you read my article, specifically, how far back to go?  The point is to get the ones that other agents have given up on.
Aug 13, 2007 04:48 PM #30
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Professionals - Olympia, WA



Yes, I read your article and I found it to be very informative and well composed.


It appears in our market that there are not very many expireds that are not being pursued heavily by multiple agents. Even expired 6 months back are being contacted daily by agents who are trying to get the listings.  I think that I might be throwing in the towel a bit too soon. I am putting together a new plan based on your suggestions. I am looking forward to having better results. Thanks again for putting together such a well thought out post.


Best wishes,



Aug 14, 2007 04:03 AM #31
Doreen McPherson
Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe - Tempe, AZ
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~

Hi John,

Thank you for the ideas.  I am not up for cold calling, so I will stick with mailing like Bryant.  I hate to get cold calls, so I understand how people feel.  I like the idea of waiting and contacting the older ones.   

Aug 15, 2007 04:16 AM #32
Julie Neerings~Lifting Hearts ♥ Building Dreams~
Agent Referral - Salt Lake City, UT
Super great post!  My suggestion for those who don't like to call, knock the doors too.  People may not like the call, but they do like the human interaction.  Their agent in the past may have been the, "didn't return calls, didn't pick up sign, and worse, didn't tell me my listing expired" kind of agent and when you warm it up with a genuinely professional phone call or knock on the door, they're sold again.  
Aug 18, 2007 06:29 AM #33
John Lockwood
Lockwood Real Estate - Sacramento, CA

Oh thanks, all.  Doreen, I've had a bit of luck with calling -- none at all with mail.  Your mileage may vary.  I don't consider working expireds cold calling, though, because it's such a great list.

Thanks Julie, for hte kind words.

Wow, Scott, sounds like the agents are working them hard in your market.  If they move to CA, have those go getters call me!  :)

Aug 19, 2007 04:37 PM #34
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