How NOT to attract expired listings

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

How not to attract expired listings

After the listing expired on my son's duplex a couple of weeks ago, he got one postcard. As I may have mentioned before, folks around here don't do much prospecting.

Here is what that postcard said:failure stamp

"We noticed that your property was listed for sale and that listing has recently expired, if you are still interested in selling your property we would love the opportunity to work with you and get that property SOLD give us a call and we can start the process.

I have copied the punctuation exactly as it appeared on the card. In other words, all 48 words were in one run-on sentence. Even typing it I wanted to stop and take a breath!

So, poor (no, horrible) grammar is mistake #1. In this case, it's so bad that it makes them look illiterate. How could they possibly write a coherent property description or fill out a real estate agreement?

Mistake #2 is beginning the message with "We" and then going on to "we would love…"

Is there anything about the property owner here? Is there anything to remotely attract the attention of the property owner? No, and no.

Sorry, no one cares what they would love.

Mistake #3 is not giving the property owner even one reason why this pair of agents might be a good choice. They're from out of town, so do they have expertise in selling property in Priest River? This is a duplex – do they have expertise in moving rental income properties? Who knows?

Do they offer to help figure out what went wrong?  Heck no. 

Will they send a follow-up? That has yet to be seen, but my guess is no. To date I have never seen any agent in this community (except me, way back when) send more than one prospecting letter.

What should you do instead? 

While this card is a prime example of how NOT to gain a new listing, there are no doubt many effective ways to successfully approach a homeowner with an expired listing. For instance, you could cite your experience and success in selling homes of a specific type or in a specific neighborhood.

Since my set of 12 postcard-sized expired listing messages was written for use by a variety of agents with varying experience, the set begins with this letter:

Dear ,

You just saw your house expire off the market unsold. Why?

Usually, the answer lies in one of the three pieces of the real estate sales puzzle: price, presentation, and marketing. However, there are some other factors, such as negotiation, follow-up, and a buyer’s loan problems, that can play a part.

I’d be happy to send you my report “Why Didn’t It Sell,” or to talk with you in person. Just give me a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email me:

Yours truly,


P.S. Tomorrow I’ll explain the first step in figuring out what went wrong.


Note that I'm telling the reader to expect more, and giving them advance notice that the information could be valuable to them.

You might think of a different, equally good approach. Just remember to make your letter about them and their problems, and to let them know that you have something of value to offer. And of course – proofread, proofread, and proofread again. I doubt if anyone here on Active Rain could/would make that many mistakes in just 49 words, but it's best not to make even one of them. 

If this is the homeowner's first impression of you, make it the best that it can be. 

P.S. If you don't want to write your own expired listing letters and you'd rather send full-length letters or emails, I also have a set of 10 letters, plus special reports, and a short 4-letter set

Graphic courtesy of Stuart


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 05/05/2016 10:42 PM
  2. Ginger Harper 05/06/2016 01:04 AM
  3. Winston Heverly 07/26/2016 12:33 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Real Estate Rookie
Bartender, Make it a Double
real estate prospecting
expired listing letters
real estate grammar

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Ken Jones Commercial Real Estate
VRI Realty, Inc. - Metuchen, NJ
Automotive & Industrial Real Estate

Marte Cliff While there's certainly merit to Nina Hollander 's comment, I've had slightly different experience.

I recently listed my personal home myself as an owner/agent in the MLS. At one point during the Christmas holiday, I took it off market for a brief period.

About 2 weeks later - 2 weeks - I had an agent call and pitch me for the listing. He was, apparently, a "newbie," whom I commended for his attempt.

But, I politely told him I was the owner/agent, and advised him he should check the MLS data sheets in the future so as not to waste his time, or to embarrass himself to other agents.

Over the next 10 days, I received an additional 3 calls from the SAME agent who tried to pitch me for the listing each time.

So, not only can't many agents write coherently, they don't seem to pay attention to the spoken word very well, either.

Great post! (Hope my grammer is acceptable. )

May 05, 2016 11:38 PM #33
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

You are so on the money! If I'm shopping for a service and I see poor grammar I'll move on to the next one. This goes for referring agents in other markets, as well. I have Facebook friends who are college-educated professionals who post run-on sentences, incorrect punctuation, bad spelling, wrong words, etc. My first impression is that the writer is uneducated. Why would I want an uneducated agent to market my home?

May 05, 2016 11:57 PM #34
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

You show what works and what doesn't...Now that's value. Good job Marte Cliff 

May 06, 2016 12:24 AM #35
Terry McCarley
REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL - Cape Coral, FL

Great advice!  I haven't gone after expired listings in the past but my business partner and I have decided to start doing so. 

May 06, 2016 12:34 AM #36
Libby Cousins
Extraordinary Processing - Spokane, WA
Contract Mortgage Processor, licensed in WA

It amazes me that someone would spend the time and money to make a marketing postcard (or anything really) and not run the verbiage through a simple spell check. If there is a "we", there should have been another set of eyes that could have checked it. 

Did you contact them and offer your services? ;-)

May 06, 2016 01:43 AM #37
Teresa K. Nelson
Windermere Real Estate/HLC - Woodinville, WA

 When I read their postcard I thought, "well, it isnt terrible, but it's not great."  Then  I read how you wrote yours. You are amazing and your gift with the words you chose trumps the other by far - setting the barway above the rest of the ordinary agents.

May 06, 2016 02:11 AM #38
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Thanks Teresa K. Nelson. I have the advantage of thinking about words all day. When I was an agent and had to squeeze writing/marketing time in between appointments and phone calls it was much more difficult. 

May 06, 2016 02:18 AM #39
Laura Filip
RE/MAX UTOPIA , Serving all of Texoma - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.... Spelling and grammar are important .... Follow the topic and make it about them on you... It is hard to find the right statement that does not sound canned. Have a blessed day.

May 06, 2016 03:21 AM #40
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Great set of letters for expired listings. I am bookmarking the blog for future reference.

May 06, 2016 04:02 AM #41
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Great job, Marte. I keep most of the Realtor postcards that show up at my house. They are great fodder for my agents to see what not to do. 

May 06, 2016 04:50 AM #42
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Good stuff Marte. I guess no one proofreads or thinks of what to say before they send the postcard.

They should buy your stuff.

May 06, 2016 06:22 AM #43
Brian L. Sirota, Esq.
Bristar Realty (Realtor/Attorney) - Orange, CA
For Solutions: (714) 501-7660

Marte, this is an excellent post, and the lesson should extend beyond prospecting for expireds.   

On Activerain, blogging is so heavily encouraged, little is said to guide the blogger with poor writing skills.   An error-riddled and poorly constructed blog can be more of a detriment than a benefit.   Perhaps those bloggers should delegate the task to someone like you, or consider alternative methods of marketing.

May 06, 2016 06:55 AM #44
Mike Wong
Keller Williams Realty Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
Realtor: Commercial, Residential, Leasing, Invest

I think everyone has a different style. This could have been a generic message from a 3rd party provided on behalf of the agent, an assistant, intern, or virtual assistant. This is why I want control of all marketing and media with my name on it, but I admit my VA sent out a flyer campaign that was 1 year old because they didn't proof read. 

May 06, 2016 09:13 AM #45
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Mike Wong You're right. It could have been one of their children who wrote this, but in the end, the reflection is on them. We are all responsible for anything that goes out with our name on it. 

The rules may have changed here in Idaho, but at one time the broker also had to approve of any marketing materials sent out. 

May 06, 2016 09:21 AM #46
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Marte, it's pretty obvious that the postcard you received was not even "touched by a human", or if so, an illiterate one. That aspect alone does not bode well for good service.

May 06, 2016 10:02 PM #47
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Marte, all your ideas are much more proactive and engaging to the seller. Giving ideas that WORK to sell that home!!

May 07, 2016 02:01 AM #48
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Wow Marte ...

You sure know how to write a post, great post and featured to the group:


May 07, 2016 12:30 PM #49
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

We can analyze an expired listing but this started as a bad listing in the first place

May 08, 2016 12:27 AM #50
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
Realty National - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

As usual, Marte Cliff comes to the rescue with an excellent blog post on a subject we all seem to overlook; expireds!

Jul 26, 2016 08:53 PM #51
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Thanks Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI NMLS#1483386. The expired listings are out there for agents who want to take the time (or have the time) to pursue them.  

Jul 27, 2016 01:39 AM #52
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