Expired Listing Marketing Programs And Capture Strategies
Over the past year I suspended my expired listing marketing program. When I looked back at my book of busienss I realized that I had neglected an important source of business that had served me well in prior years. I have plenty of excuses as to why I stop marketing to expired listings (it's time consuming, it's expensive, it's not working, and more) but there is nothing like hindsight to understand that I should have been marketing to them all along.
Expired listings are properties that have failed to sell during the listing period with another agent. For one reason or another the agent and/or the property owner have not renewed or extended the listing agreement, so the listing agreement expires. The most important thing any real estate professional knows about an expired listing is that the owner would sell if a buyer made an offer that met their price, terms and conditions. So, as marketers, we already know that the homeowner has raised their hand and said "I want to sell my home".
A word about withdrawn listings - in my opinion these are really "expired listings" disguised and masquerading as "withdrawn listing". Withdrawn listings are where the property owner has taken the property off the market for some reason or another. Sometimes it really is because the owner has decided to stay put (that new job somewhere else didn't come through after all). But more often than not, the owner has become disgruntled with the performance of the the real estate agent or the other way around ("Why haven't you gotten my house sold yet?" and "You need to reduce price by another 5% to be competitive in today's real estate market.") and owner and agent mutually agree to withdraw the property from the market and release each other from the contract obligations of the listing agreement.
So marketing to expired listings and withdrawn listings is like shooting fish in a barrel. The property owners have already said they would sell if a buyer was interested in buying. These homeowners have "self selected" and identified themselves as "ready to sell". So, over the last few days I've been searching high and low for a silver bullet for expired listings (BTW, haven't found it yet). However, success does leave foot prints. On my journey, I've tracked down several expired listings programs worth telling you about.
Barbara Todaro in her post "Direct Mail Marketing...Target Expired Listings With Them!!" outlines an excellent marketing approach to capture and convert expired listings into her listings. She suggests adding their names/addresses to your "just listed" and "just sold" mailing and hand write on the postcards "we can do this for you too". In my opinion this sends a strong message to the homeowners whose listing have expired that you are hard working real estate agent that other sellers have already selected (herding would suggest that sellers want to list their homes with agents who have listed other people's homes).
Mike Mahoney in his post "Expired Listing Card Marketing Maybe Using Send Out Cards" suggested in a short YouTube video a strategy where you take the MLS photo, print it onto a note card, and send out a personal note to the owner with a message about listing their home. He also suggested using SendOutCards.com as one of several online programs automating the implementation of a direct mail campaign to expired listings.
Julie Escobar in her post "How to Get Every Expired Listing You Want..." interviews Kathy Casarin, Prudential Preferred Properties about her success in the real estate business by marketing to expired listings. She summarized Kathy's approach to marketing to expired listings and outlines her prelisting package and is worth taking a look at. I read time and again that it is important to keep mailing to expired listings and withdrawn listings and Kathy reminds us in her interview with Julie to market to not just those listings that expired today, but, listings that expired months ago who have not yet relisted with another real estate agent. Many real estate agents give up after the first one or two attempts to convert an expired listings into their own listing. I read on the ProspectsPlus website that takes three contacts for you to "get noticed" and seven contacts "to associate yourname with your business" and 27 contacts to become a "brand name" in the mind of a consumer.
And finally Lisa Bosques highlighted an expired listing postcard that made me laugh in her post "Did Anybody Else See This?" I don't think I have the nerve to include such a provocative postcard in an expired listing program, but, I did send a postcard to expireds in 2010 called "Did you get a lemon when you wished for a peach?" pictured below. Recipiants (or their formed agents) complained to management and ultimately I discarded this postcard.
While my quest for a one-size-fits-all expired listing campaign is not yet over, I have a much better handle on what to do and what not do in the coming year. The key to any successful marketing program, online or offline, is frequency and consistency. It's time to get back to doing what I know works, marketing to expired listings.