How to Write the Best Expired Listing Letter

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Explore how to properly harness the opportunity presented by an expired listing by learning how to write the best expired listing letter (including examples)!

As a realtor, you’re under a lot of pressure to sell a property for the right price, and do so as efficiently as possible. And between your agency, your client, and the market as a whole, the pressure can come from a lot of different angles.

But pressure doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. In fact, some people thrive on it! So hey, while we’re on the trend of turning negatives to positives, let’s focus on one of a realtors biggest headaches: the expired listing letter.

We’ll have a look at what they are, and how to harness the opportunity they present in the perfect expired listing letter.

What Is An Expired Listing?

Let us define what exactly an “expired listing” is. When a property is “listed”, or put up for sale, it becomes associated with a specific time frame for selling. Once that time frame has run out, the listing is considered expired. At a minimum, the listing limit must be at least 60 days, however some properties have limits that last years.

Once a listing has expired a few things happen. First, the listing is removed from the MLS (multiple listing service system), and should be removed from all online content. Next, the sellers must decide if they want to stick with their current realtor and re-list the property, or they can choose to switch agents, penalty free.

There are some common misconceptions about expired listings, mostly created by folks outside the real estate bubble. So, it’s important to also address was an expired listing is not. An expired listing is not: damaged property, “unsellable”, a withdrawn listing, and most importantly….haunted.

What To Do When A Listing Expires

When a listing expires every realtor immediately goes into damage control mode. The client, who has been through countless open houses, showings, and stagings, probably isn’t thrilled to have nothing to show for it. This frustration can create ample opportunity for you, as a competing agent, to swoop in and pitch the client as to why they should re-list…but this time with you as their realtor.

In order to convince the client why they should switch to you, not only is it up to you to quell their fears, but it’s your job to figure out why the property didn’t sell. Was the price set too high? Will the house sell for less than the debt owed on it? Was the property not putting its best face forward aesthetically?

So, once you pull those morning hot sheets from the MLS and see what properties are fair game, how do you turn those contacts in your CRM into clients? The most common action taking by realtors who have picked up on an expired listing then, is to send something called an expired listing letter.

Sign for an expired real estate listing (from Charlie Macaw Graphics).
Photo Credit: Charlie Macaw Graphics

How To Write The Best Expired Listing Letter

Think of your expired listing letter like a sales pitch. While it’s your official intro to the client, and your best shot at a first impression, it’s not the only step you should take to close the deal. It’s always best practice to follow up.

However, a well-crafted expired listing letter can do more than enough to get your foot in the door (literally)!

There are a few elements that all the best expired listing letters have in common:

  • Punctuality: The best letters are sent the day a listing expires or the very next day. Bonus if you include a little extra something with your letter, like a small treat or gift card.
  • A strong call to action: Give the potential client a clear and attainable next step such as: please call or text me if you’re interested, I’d love to grab a coffee and discuss opportunities moving forward.
  • An emotional appeal: As we mentioned, expired listings can leave property owners feeling discouraged. An empathetic tone throughout your letter will help it come across less vulture-istic, and more helpful.
  • Free market report: Giving your potential client some insight into what might have gone wrong with their first listing will put them at ease as well as inspire the confidence to step back up to bat with you by their side.
  • Outlined marketing plan: Right before you end your letter, you want to wrap things up by overviewing your marketing plan for how/what you intend to do differently when advertising their listing.

With these pieces in mind let’s complete the puzzle with some examples of real expired listing letters in action.

Sample Expired Listing Letter

One of the best samples of an expired listing letter we’ve come across is from the experts over at Easy Agent Pro. Read through the letter and follow along with the sections, from there we’ll break it down a little further.

Example of an expired listing letter template (from Easy Agent Pro).
Photo Credit: Easy Agent Pro

As this letter very clearly demonstrates, a letter doesn’t have to be pages and pages to get your point across. In fact, it really shouldn’t extend beyond one page. The example above shows how to work emotion into the introduction by empathizing with the buyer on their property not selling. As a bonus, this realtor also establishes their status and knowledge of the area at the same time, a great way to implicitly instill confidence.

From there, the realtor previews their marketing plan, accompanied by some hard numbers that demonstrate success in their methods. Finally, the call to action closes out the letter. In this example, the realtor chose to instill a sense of urgency with their CTA, a choice that is entirely personal!

As you’ll see with the various examples we’ll share below, each letter will vary based on the voice of each realtor. Here’s one particularly conversational example written by Finger Lakes Realtor & Copy Writer Don Stevens and submitted to Fit Small Business.

If you’re looking for something a little shorter, check out this one written by Secretsoftopsellingagents.com.

So, next time you saddle up to your keyboard and start writing an expired listing letter, just remember to include:

  • An empathetic introduction
  • A description of the homeowner’s sales issue
  • Your marketing plan (what you plan to do to solve the issue)
  • Your call to action

Throw in some special touches like a hand delivery, or small gift, and you’ll be on the road to re-list in no time!

For some more tips and tricks, check out our text marketing guide to real estate.

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