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 PDF and download it. At best I might scan each heading.
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.
You'll also want to check out Zillow, the #1 way to get real estate leads. It has the largest audience of home buyers in the US and can generate $2.60 in commissions per dollar spent. Click here to get started today.
In this article, you’ll learn how to write an expired listing letter that people will read and respond to. You’ll learn;
- How to find out why the home didn’t sell
- What to say in your expired listing letter
- When to send your letters for maximum impact
- Creative ways to get them noticed
- Free customizable examples
Do Your Research – Why The Home 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, there 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.
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.
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 how to sell.
Here’s what it means. Just like you, your expired homeowner 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. Do it.
Example Expired Listing Letters
All expired listing letters should have four basic sections;
- an introduction that shows empathy,
- a section that describes the homeowners problem,
- a section on 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.
What Would You 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:
Inconsistent Updating: 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.
Our Fix: 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.
Our Fix: 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: 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.
Our Fix: 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 Three: Description of Your Business and 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.
How to Get Your Letter Noticed
Here are a few ways to get your letter to stand out from the crowd:
- Deliver it in a door hanger. While a letter in a stack of mail can be easy to ignore, the homeowner will need to take your door hanger off their door knob and at least look at it if they want to get in their house.
- Deliver it with 3D mail. Instead of sending just a standard envelope, consider sending your letter along with an object that helps make a point. Boston area Realtor Andrew Armata sends a package of paper towels along with his expired listing letter that focuses on market absorption. Other agents send a Rubik’s cube along with their letters on how they can “solve” the local market for them. Corny? Yes. Does it work? Yes.
Putting it All Together
Once you’ve crafted the perfect expired listing letter, you then need to put together a great presentation to win over the seller. Check out Placester’s great guide on Expired Listing Presentations to learn more.
After you send that expired listing letter, you should follow up with the potential client with a phone call, email, or if you’re not able to find their contact information, another letter. Research shows that turning a prospect into a lead requires at least 7 follow-ups. We recommend using a real estate CRM system such as Contactually to manage your follow-ups. Not only will Contactually provide reminders, but also suggest email or follow-up approaches. Read our article on how to use Contactually to close more deals.
More Example Expired Listings Letters:
While I would highly suggest using an approach like mine for your expired listing letter, you may want something a bit more general to suit your market. If that’s the case, check out these examples from around the web. If you get a chance to use my letter or one of these, drop me a line and let me know how you did.
Example Letter 1:
As an agent in [insert neighborhood/city/etc.] I study the market closely and watch which homes sell and which homes don’t. I’ve noticed that you put your home on the market and it didn’t sell. I realize there are many reasons homes don’t sell, and one of those may have been that you simply decided not to move. If that is the case this letter may not be of interest to you. However, if you still want to move, here is some information that may be useful:
Last year homes in the [insert neighborhood/city/etc.] sold for an average of [insert percentage]% of asking price. Many of my clients are surprised at how high this number is, and I explain that buyers are shopping for the best priced home in their price range. Once they have found that home, they are usually willing to pay close to asking price, even if they start lower. The overpriced homes can’t compete with a similar home that is priced well, therefore an offer never comes in.
Why might now be the time to sell? According to the National Association of Realtors inventory of available homes has decreased 11.1 percent from November of 2014 to December of 2014. In December 2014 there was a 4.4 month supply of homes, this is below the 6 month supply that many real estate professionals consider normal.
Additionally the National Association for Realtors reported that single family home prices nationwide are 6.0 percent higher in December 2014 than December 2013.
As a real estate professional I completely understand the stress of putting your home on the market. I pride myself on minimizing that stress by taking a very honest and comprehensive look at your situation and goals. If you are still considering moving I would like to offer you a no-obligation move analysis. A move analysis examines your overall goals, and then I give you an honest opinion as to whether or not your goals are feasible.
I hope this letter finds you well, and please feel free to contact me at any time.
[Insert Your Name]
Example Letter 2:
Att: Steven Sheldon RE: 446 Housley Ave
Today I noticed your home at 446 Housley Ave is no longer listed for sale within the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). My name is Jim Remley and I specialize in helping people who may be frustrated that their home sold didn’t sell the first time around. How? I offer my clients a different, unique approach to getting their home sold despite the market conditions.
Just one example of my marketing plan is the effective use of the internet to maximize exposure for your home. This is absolutely critical as 86% of buyers today use the internet as their primary information resource. In addition when working with sellers I offer my clients: – Complete Market Overview & Pricing Analysis – Enhanced RMLS listing and a linked virtual tour. – Dedicated website – specific to your listing. – Online Classified Advertising on Oodle, Craigslist, and Google Base. – Complete email ready property information kit for buyers. – Exclusive 25 Point Internet Marketing Strategy – Local and Regional Marketing.
If you are considering re-listing your home I would welcome the opportunity to interview for the job. Please give me a call or email at your convenience.
Example Letter 3:
I’m sorry to see that your home has not sold yet. You’re probably wondering why a realtor would be dropping off a package of paper towels to you right now. It’s actually not strange at all. I consider myself to be very much like a paper towel in today’s market because the number one reason a home will not sell in today’s market is something called absorption.
This is how it works. There are 240 single family homes on the market in Lowell today. 18 homes sold in lowell in the last month. If you are an average home seller priced at an average price, it will take 13 months for the market to ABSORB your home. That’s where you need a good paper towel, that’s where you need me.
Over the next seven days you will receive several items of correspondence in the mail from me. Each of them will contain tools for helping you sell your home… not 13 months from now…but TODAY. I hope with each of these items you’ll learn how I am very different in the way I professionally market each home through closing.
Please call me at your earliest convenience for a confidential one on one marketing consultation.
Andrew Armata, Re/max prestige
Example Letter 4:
<Client name and address block>
Hello <first name>,
I noticed your home listing expired recently and am sorry to hear that your home has not yet sold. The home sales process can certainly be a stressful and exhausting process.
Despite the challenges of today’s real estate market, I have seen success with real estate sales in your area. My recent sales of homes in your neighborhood include:
<insert 2-3 closed sales: two-bedroom, listed for xx months sold for $>
I would be thrilled to take the burden and stress of the home sales process off your shoulders. Please consider hiring me as your new listing agent. I have some creative ideas to ensure your property moves quickly and garners a sales price commensurate with its market value. I hope to hear from you soon.
<Contact block with name
RE license #
email, phone, and social media>
Disclaimer: This document is provided as a sample and does not constitute legal advice. Members should modify this document to address their specific needs and verify all information provided to ensure its accuracy and compliance with applicable law.
Example Letter 5:
Are You Fed-Up With All The Reasons
Your Home Didn’t Sell And Now
Want Some Straight Answers?
You want to get on with life. You want to get your home sale behind you. But no one has stepped forward to make an offer.
“Why is this happening?”…
The REAL reasons may shock you!
Dear Frustrated Homeowner…
Does it seem like your home will never sell?
Few people truly understand the frustrations you face trying to sell your home. Perhaps you’re in between jobs and need to start renting. Or maybe you want to buy your next home, but you feel paralyzed because you need to sell this home first.
Maybe you’ve dropped your life savings into this home. And because of the lousy economy, or unscrupulous people, you’re now trying to get your money out. The clock is ticking….and with each tick, you lose more and more of your hard-earned money.
My name is <<Your Name>>, and I am a REALTOR® specializing in difficult-to-sell properties.
In Over <<10>> Years Of Marketing “Hard-To-Sell” Properties, I’ve
Learned A Few Things About Why YOUR Home Is NOT Selling…
Each home is different, and has special problems that make selling it difficult. That’s why I created a special program for people like you. I call it my “Maximum Home Value Audit.” It’s FREE and there’s absolutely No Obligation Whatsoever to work with me or any other agent.
My audit will show you….
- How to get the absolute highest price the market will pay for your home;
- The difference between Functional and Cosmetic issues with your home, and how easy-to-fix and inexpensive problems may be costing you thousands;
- How to “dress” your home to make it look like it’s worth thousands more (the way you live in a home, and the way you sell a home are TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS!)
- I’ll inspect your home and property from top to bottom to reveal true problems affecting its successful sale: from specific condition issues, through lot sighting, home sighting, and location. Then, I’ll tell you how to minimize the impact of negative issues, and promote positive features so you can get the very most money for your home….and sell it NOW!
As you can see, because of my experience, my Maximum Home Value Audit is a much higher level of service than what you may have experienced before.
Selling “Hard-To-Sell” Homes Is My Specialty!
And unlike other agents who will tell you anything just to get your listing, I’ll show you EXACTLY what your home is worth with a reliable, real world analysis. No fancy figures. No hard sales pitches. Just the facts presented in a straightforward, easy-to-understand format for you.
THERE’S MORE: In the process of reviewing your home’s sale potential, I’ll also tell you how to get your property out to the most people possible through the Internet.
You Can Put An End To You Frustrations…Stop The Hemorrhaging Flow Of Your Equity Down The Drain, And Get-On With Your Life RIGHT NOW!
I know there’s a tendency to put this letter aside, or “think about it later.” But every minute you spend sitting on an unsold home is costing you money! And in today’s overcrowded market (with more listings than buyers) you need to know all the smart ways to advertise and show your home to get a fast, top dollar sale.
Right now, you can take advantage of my FREE, No Obligation “Maximum Home Value Audit” by simply picking up your phone, and calling my Fast-Response Hotline at 222-2222.
You have thousands of dollars and valuable time to gain…and absolutely NOTHING to lose by calling now. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. Right now, you can end the frustrations of sitting on a home that simply won’t sell! You can stop flushing money down the drain with each passing day…and get on with your life, simply by taking advantage of my FREE, No Obligation “Maximum Home Value Audit.” So call my Fast-Response Hotline right now at 222-2222, and say goodbye to your old home…and hello to new freedom!
Example Letter 6:
IF YOU ARE READING THIS LETTER THEN YOUR REALTOR HAS NOT SOLD YOUR HOME.
My name is <name> and a Realtor at <company>. I have noticed that your house was recently taken off the market so I am writing to see if you still have an interest in selling. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you to go over your Real Estate needs and update you on current market conditions in your area. Together we can devise a plan that will get your home sold.
In this market you need a Realtor experienced in your area who will get your home sold for full market value in a reasonable amount of time. I will offer you my <#> years of experience selling homes and an unconditional listing agreement that you can cancel at anytime with no fees to you. I get paid when you get paid. At closing.
I promise to talk to you personally during the listing period at least twice a week with updates. I promise to answer my phone when you call or return your call within 30 minutes Mon-Sun 8am- 8pm. Try it! 555-555-5555.
Folks, if you are serious about selling your home then give me a call today and start packing! I look forward to hearing from you.
A good expired listing letter can get you loyal new clients and help you make a name for yourself. Have a great expired listing letter or strategy you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.