Expired Listing Psychology

Here is an article from my old mentor and coach Art Scott. Art was an expert on expired listings.

If you want to practice amateur psychiatry, start chasing expired listings. In 1987, my first year in the business, I attended a training seminar featuring real estate speaker and trainer Walter Sanford. I was blown away by how he worked expired listings. If you want to follow this system, get ready for emotional ups and downs and some embarrassment. But take heart. Expireds can be the most lucrative niche in real estate.

Call Early and Often
Arrive at your office at 6:30 a.m. and pull the expireds off the MLS. Our computer searches for the expired listings automatically and prints out a list that’s waiting for us in the morning. Call those sellers Monday through Friday beginning at 7 a.m. before they leave for work—until you make contact with them. You’re thinking, “Yikes!” right? Well, after eight years of using the system, my team grosses $250,000 in closed commissions every year because of calls we make before 8 a.m. That’s 30 percent of our total business.

After the morning calls, whether you make contact or not, send the sellers an information package—a big envelope stuffed with marketing materials on why they should list with you. Have the package—stamped Special Delivery, Personal and Confidential—couriered by your assistant. The assistant should have the seller sign for the package. If no one answers the door, the deliverer can leave it in an obvious spot. In either case, the courier should jot down exactly what kind of contact was made. That way, during follow-up calls you can say, “We know you received our package. Have you had a chance to read it over?”

Follow up about the package every day for the next seven days. And check the MLS to make sure the prospects haven’t relisted. If they haven’t and if you haven’t connected with them yet, mail another letter to follow up on the first package.

Then call the prospects again every day for the next week. If you haven’t made contact with them by the end of the week, send a final letter indicating that if their interest in selling has waned, they should file the brochure about your services, which you’ve enclosed, for future reference. By the way, if people tell you that you’re pestering them, you can say, “It would seem that you’d be looking for someone aggressive to sell your house, since your property has been on the market for a long time.”

That final letter brings us two or three additional listings a month from expired prospects who put the brochure aside months or years ago. Some of those sellers have said to me, “We called you because other salespeople tried to list us only three or four times and then we didn’t hear from them again.”

When You Get a Nibble

When you land that listing appointment or you get prospects on the phone, become a psychiatrist: Ask questions, but let them talk, too. The complaint I hear most often from expired listings is that other salespeople didn’t provide them enough feedback and communication.

So commit to the sellers by promising to phone them every Monday morning to update them; then do it. Show them how you’ll use technology, target marketing, and area demographics to sell their home and improve on what previous salespeople did. Give sellers the right to fire you anytime, for any reason, at no cost, with 10 days’ notice. Sellers want an employer-employee relationship with you, which keeps them comfortable and you on your toes.

Remember, we’re public servants. Don’t focus on profits; focus on finding clients and customers and improving your service. If you’re service oriented, the profits will come. Sanford told the people who attended his seminar, “Only one in 100 of you will do this.” I think the odds are probably one in a thousand.

Art Scott was a salesperson with RE/MAX Group South Bay, 19200 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 210, Cupertino, Calif. 95014; 800/735-7653.

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