If you've been in the real estate business for any time at all, you've probably already sensed that many agents have a preconceived negative impression of expired listings and for-sale-by-owner or FSBO listings. They act as if these listings represent second-hand goods not worthy of an agent's interest and ability. They can also look down on agents who do work them as being beneath them. As a result, they turn their backs on tremendous revenue potential and literally thousands of annual listings. That's great news for agents like you who can reap great success by converting expireds and FSBOs to new listings for your business.
I'd go so far as to make this bold statement: I honestly believe that agents who work or have worked expireds and FSBOs with successful outcomes are the best salespeople in the real estate industry. They are skillful in sales, time management, prospecting, lead follow-up, presentations, objection handling, and closing. They know how to put their sales skills to work to book appointments, make presentations, and persuade potential customers to become clients. As a result, they make more money and have more listings than agents who don't work these two areas.
If any of that sounds like a pretty good path to follow, read on.
Any new agent with aspirations to climb all the way to the top tier of success in residential real estate should consider working expired and FSBO listings for three good reasons:
1. They're easy to find. You don't even have to ask the owners if they're considering selling. All you have to do is notice the For Sale By Owner ads or signs or scan the MLS files for property listings that expire without buyer offers. As the saying goes, it's hardly rocket science.
2. They exist in any kind of market condition. You read that correctly. If you're accomplished at converting expired and FSBO listings, market conditions will have little bearing on your income and success. Here's why. In a market that is experiencing sluggish sales, buyers are in control and listings move slowly if at all. As a result, a large number of listings expire each day, week, month, and year, providing you with a near-endless supply of conversion opportunities. On the flip side, when the marketplace is robust and listings are moving briskly, sellers enjoy quick sales, high list to sales price ratios, and multiple offers. In this environment, an abundance of FSBOs sprout up. Consumers, due to what they see and read in the media, think selling a home is easy. So they devalue the services of real estate agents and try to sell on their own, as proven in the go-go years from 2002 to 2005.
Agents who work expireds and FSBOs can make their businesses bulletproof by simply shifting their listing emphasis to fit market trends - focusing on expireds in sluggish markets and on FSBOs in brisk markets.
3. Working expireds and FSBOs provides the best training an agent can get. No question about it, if you're going to convert four, five, or even six expired or FSBO listings a month, you're going to become a great salesperson. You'll work hard getting there; I'm not going to whitewash the truth. But the rewards - in terms of self discipline, time management, sales skills, personal confidence, and (last but certainly not least) a whole lot of money - will make the effort well worth the investment.
Securing an expired listing is a pretty simple process that many agents make more complicated than necessary.
Basically, to win an expired listing you make a phone call or series of phone calls. Yet agents create complex and elaborate systems involving extensive postcard mailings followed by sales letters and direct mail packages. They jam the owner's mailbox with cute, clever, and even corny packages, postcards, and letters. They create envelopes that look like they contain express deliveries. I've even seen agent-created mailers shaped to resemble firecrackers which, when opened, reveal the message: Bang! Your listing is dead. And we wonder why people call it “junk mail".
Agents who rely exclusively on direct mail win a distant second place behind those who call directly or use a call and mail combination. An owner with a ready-to-expire listing is flooded with direct mailers, all competing to be the one that grabs attention and interest. What grabs attention, though, is personal contact.
Dirk Zeller is an Agent, an Investor, and the President & CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 250,000 Agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. He's the widely published author of Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies®, The Champion Real Estate Agent, The Champion Agent Team, Telephone Sales for Dummies®, and over 300 articles in print.
Real Estate Champions is a premier coaching company. Training covers a wide spectrum from new agents, to seasoned, as well as those interested in real estate marketing or real estate investing.
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