Expired Listings - a Powerful Lead Source for Realtors and Home-Related Businesses!
Now wait a minute. You are probably thinking, "why on earth would anyone want a list of aggravated disappointed homeowners who thought they could sell their home for a specific price and couldn't"? Well, it is because eventually they will sell their home, and when they do, they will be moving into a new home that might very well require paint, carpet, electrical, new windows and doors, landscaping, concrete work, roofing, etc. Get the idea? They key is to get to them first and build a relationship.
Step 1- Finding the Expireds
The best ways to find Expireds is through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is the system real estate agents from numerous companies including Remax, Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and hundreds of others use to list and advertise homes internally. If you are not a real estate agent, you will need to align yourself with some since access to this information is limited to real estate agents that are members.
There are several ways to find local real estate agents, including at social business networks like www.SmartGuyNetwork.com or business directories such as www.SmartGuy.com, and of course through real estate websites, such as www.realtor.com. Most real estate agents have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) which lists home for sale that are represented by agents. Real estate agents pull this data from the MLS, and then enter it into a reverse-address-lookup to try and get a resident's name.
If you are a real estate agent, you can also go directly to 3rd part providers, such as www.Landvoice.com. Companies such as this, spend countless hours searching massive records to collect Expireds, and then compile the data for you, and send it in a form that is easier to deal with. Many people have these 3rd party companies email them daily Expireds that become available. Although they charge a minimal fee for the service, it is well worth it. If you aren't a real estateagent, you can align with an agent and work together to market to expireds.
Step 2- How to Contact Them
Next, you will need a way to introduce yourself to these Expireds. Often people do this through postcards (i.e. www.ProspectsPlus.com), since many times a phone number is not available or the people are on the "do not call" list. Personally, I always thought postcards were the smarter choice not only because they were cheaper to mail, but the message is more visible to the Seller.
Many business professionals wait until there are 75-100 Expireds in a given area and then send out mailings offering discounts for future services (i.e. free estimates, 10% off your roof work, $100 off carpet cleaning of 3 rooms or more).
In the case of real estate agents, it is better not to wait since it is more competitive and leads greater than a few days become obsolete. If you are a real estate agent, you need to send enticing postcards immediately. Some of the more aggressive real estate agents actually deliver pre-packaged listing packages to the door step of the home seller. Although this allows the agent to be "first in line", it is very time consuming and adds to the cost. If you are going to do this, make sure to use a large bright colored envelope that displays "Priority Delivery" or something like that.
There are also 3rd party postcard companies, which will print, stamp, and mail, in your own handwriting, even multi-card campaigns for about $0.50 each. These companies can really save you a lot of time and money.
Step 3- What to Say
This is critical. After all, you have only a few seconds to grab their attention and get them to take action. I have always been a fan of Interactive Voice Response systems (IVR). This allows the agent to provide "Free 24 Hour Recorded Information" via a toll-free number on topics that they are interested in (i.e. "How to Sell my Home Fast", or "Why My Home Didn't Sell").
When the expired call, they hear the recorded information, and can then select to directly connect right to the professional, leave them a voice mail message, or get faxed information instantly. Either way, the professional is automatically notified via email or text-message to their cell phone with the caller's phone number (even if they have caller ID Blocking!) Some companies, such as www.AutomaticLeads.com, offer over 100 pre-recorded messages that are ready to go and charge less than $.05 cents per minute!
Step 4- How Long to Market
It is funny that less than 2-3% of real estate agents or other professionals follow-up more than 5 times; however, more than 50% of sales happen after the 5th contact. Perhaps this provides a little insight as to why 20% of agents end up doing 80% of the business. Hmmm. (This is another reason why you might want to use automated systems to handle getting Expireds, mailing the information, and IVR availability and follow up.)
Step 5- Securing the Expired
Real estate agents...when getting that listing appointment, figure that Sellers have heard just about anything you are going to tell them. Although most books and courses will tell you it is all about "pricing, promotion, and presentation", I think it is about performance.
If the Seller believes you can sell their home faster and for a higher price, they will use you. One of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate use of a "24 Hour Information Line" as I mentioned earlier. When agents realize you can provide 24 hour information on their property, are available at the touch of a button, and can follow up on all calls instantly- even if the buyer hangs up without saying a word- you will almost assuredly get the listing.
Be careful not to start by telling them that their home is overpriced! If that is the issue, there are a number of softer ways to approach it, such as blaming it on the weak market or suggesting some minor improvements to make the house stand out. Remember, they might still have an "unpleasant taste" in their mouth from the promises of the last agent.
The point is whether you are a painter, plumber or real estate agent, it is all about developing relationships.