EXCERPT: You’re probably not going to read this paragraph. That’s okay, I probably wouldn’t either if I just landed on this page from a google search. I’d scan down the page for an expired listing letter template and download it.
Don’t worry though, I don’t take it personally and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. It’s basic human psychology. You want what you want. But what about your expired listing letter? How can you make sure that actually gets read? If you want to just download my letter, click here. If you’d like to learn how to write your own, read on.
Do Your Research to Figure Out Why the Expired Listing Didn’t Sell
Since the goal of your letter will be to convince the seller you will do a better job than the previous agent, you need to try and figure out why the house didn’t sell. Before writing your letter, research the property to see if you can get clues why the house failed to go into contract. Using your MLS, Zillow sales history, or StreetEasy, You should try and find out:
1. How long the home was on the market and at what price – Pricing is by far the biggest reason why homes don’t sell. Look carefully at the home’s pricing history and see if you can tell where the former agent went wrong. Was the home listed for many months at an above-market price? Was the price reduced multiple times?
2. If the home was marketed properly – Was the house professionally photographed? Was the description accurate? Drive by the home if possible to see what kind of signage the previous realtor used. If the home just expired chances are it’s still up. If you’re strictly a seller’s agent and have never seen the listing in person, see if you can get any information about the listing from a buyer’s agent at your firm.
3. Anything you can about the previous agent – Do some research on the previous agent. Do they work for a reputable firm? How long have they been working in real estate? Do they have a good online presence?
4. Anything you can about the homeowner – Don’t forget to research the homeowner. Are they retiring? Moving to another state? You may be surprised about what you can find out about someone from their social media accounts. In addition to giving you clues about why their house didn’t sell, you may be able to find out a bit about their personality and tailor your letter accordingly.
5. The condition of the home – Look closely at the pictures. Does the home look like it’s in good condition? Are there only a few pictures? Does the listing have pictures of every major room in the house? If not, their may be some serious condition issues in the rooms not photographed.
6. If the home was staged – This is an easy one. If the home was not staged you will see lots of personal items, family pictures, clutter etc. in the listing photos. Are the pictures of a vacant home?
What to Say in Your Expired Listing Letter
Before we go over what you should say in your expired listing letter, you need to understand that you are probably not the only agent competing for this listing. Before you copy and paste a generic expired listing letter into word then mail it off, think about how you would feel receiving essentially the same letter over and over again from a dozen different realtors… This is why you should try and craft a different letter for each expired listing. It’s not as hard as you think! Here’s some advice on creating a killer expired listing letter that will make your phone ring:
Personalize Each Letter
Yes, this means a lot more work than just writing one generic expired listing letter and sending it out to every single expired listing you find. However, since you will (ideally) be making a personal connection with the homeowner, the payoff should be a higher response rate.
If you don’t personalize your letter and talk about their specific needs, the chances of it ending up in the garbage are close to 100%.
Fancy Talk Don’t Work
You almost definitely read that sentence. That’s because it’s in bold so you thought it was important. It is. It’s a quote from Barbara Corcoran, someone who knows a thing or two about selling real estate.
Here’s what it means. Just like you, a homeowner whose house didn’t sell doesn’t have much patience. Your letter may be the 10th expired listing letter she got this week and she’s sick of reading the same thing over and over. In order to get your message across, you need to use simple, direct language that’s easy to read. Instead of stiff, formal language, try and keep your letters more conversational.Here’s a quick breakdown of how to structure your letter to get your phone to ring:
The Four Sections Every Expired Listing Letter Needs
All expired listing letters should have four basic sections:
- an introduction that shows empathy,
- a section that describes the homeowners problem,
- what you would do differently to solve their problem,
- finish with a quick description of you, your business and a call to action.
You can also provide a second page with reviews from former clients that are willing to include their phone numbers.
Section One: Show Empathy to Build Trust – Remember, since their home didn’t sell, the homeowner is probably frustrated and unsure of what to do next. They may not be ready to trust another realtor just yet. After all, they more than likely sunk a lot of time and effort into helping their agent sell their home and got nothing in return. This is why you always need to start by telling them you not only understand how they’re feeling, but agree with them as well. Empathy builds trust. Here’s a good example of what I mean:
I know you’ve probably gotten dozens of letters like this since your listing didn’t sell, so I’ll be brief. Let’s face it, selling your home in ____________ can be incredibly stressful. If you want the best return for your investment, you need to take a giant leap of faith and trust a complete stranger with one of the most important decisions of your life. As you’ve learned the hard way, it doesn’t always work out.
Section Two: Describe Their Problem. In Detail – After you’ve shown empathy with the homeowner, you need to dive in and focus on their problem and how you can fix it for them. My personal approach is complete honesty. I tell them exactly what I think the issues with the listing were, and then tell them exactly what I would have done differently. This is why doing your research is so important in this process. Important note: If this goes on for more than a few paragraphs, consider putting it on another page and leave section one and three on the first page.
Section Three: What You Would Do Differently – Okay. Now you should have a pretty good idea of why the home didn’t sell. If there were obvious issues with the listing, you need to start thinking about how you can fix them. What will you do differently than the previous agent? Why should the homeowner invite you over to pitch them? Why shouldn’t they just throw your letter in the trash with the others? In the example below I combined these two sections. You can make them separate if you’d like.
Even though _________ is a great realtor who I like and respect, I don’t think she was the right person to sell your house. Here’s a quick summary of the main issues I found and how we can fix them:
While your home was posted on the MLS and Zillow, it wasn’t updated on both web sites. Right now, Zillow has the house listed at $500,0000, while the MLS still has it listed at $525,0000. In order to get the right buyer to see your home at the right time, you need to be consistent.
Proposed solution: Since all of our listings are updated via our IDX enabled website, changes are made on the MLS, Zillow, Realtor.com, and half a dozen other sources instantly.
Lack of Social Media Coverage:
I did a quick survey of __________ facebook page and noticed she never posted your home there at all. She also doesn’t have a twitter account, and IDX enabled web site, or an email list. In today’s market, you need to promote listings in as many channels as possible.
Proposed solution: Since we have a dedicated social media coordinator, all of our listings, from $100,000 fixer uppers to $3,000,000 estates are heavily promoted across multiple social media channels
Low Quality Photography/Staging:
The pictures __________chose for the MLS are of low quality. They are too dark, blurry and some pictures were taken at night. In order to show your house in the best light, you need to take pictures in the best light. Again, this shows a lack of consistency and diligence.
Proposed solution: Not only is our photographer one of the best in _________, we also offer free 3D tours, and free aerial drone photography and flythrough videos for all our listings, regardless of price.
Section Four: Description Of Your Business & Call to Action – Now that you’ve outlined their main problems and provided solutions, you should give them a brief, and honest idea of what they can expect working with you. Here’s an example:
At __________ we’re in it for the long haul. We would rather have a happy client than a few extra dollars in our pocket from a quick sale. That’s why we have 24 hours support for all our clients and provide cutting edge social media, 3D tours and drone photography for ALL of our clients. Regardless of selling price. We’re so confident you’ll love working with us, we offer all new clients a one week risk-free contract.
If any of this sounds interesting, please don’t hesitate to call me on my cell any time. I live a few blocks away on _______ so can come by any time.
P.S. The Next page of this letter features testimonials from a few of our many satisfied clients. Before calling me, call one of them.
Wait…I thought you said price was the number one reason homes don’t sell but you never once mention price in your letter. What gives?
You’re right. Price is without a doubt the number one reason listings don’t sell, but good luck getting a homeowner to admit that! If you ask a homeowner why their listing didn’t sell, price would probably be the last thing they mention.
If you ever want to have a dream of selling the place you are going to have to convince the homeowner to lower the price. Why start your relationship with an argument though?
When to Send an Expired Listing Letter
If you ask 5 real estate agents when the best time to send an expired listing letter would be you’d probably get 10 different answers. There are two schools of thought here:
- Send the letter as soon as the listing expires – If you can work very quickly the benefits here are obvious. Your letter will be the first the homeowner reads.
- Wait a week or two. The seller may not be ready to work with another agent right away so your letter may arrive as soon as they change their mind.
Continue for more sample letters…