Avoid an Expired Home–and Damaged Reputation–with These 4 Textbook Steps

“The number one complaint I hear from expired listings is the lack of communication from the agent who listed the property.”

This was a comment we received back in 2005 from an agent who specialized in expired listings. It intrigued us.

Interested in learning more, as we’ve mentioned before, back in early 2006 we ran a survey on expired listings.

One of the questions we asked 406 real estate agents was “How many listings have expired in your career?” The average answer was six. With an agent being in the business for an average 11 years, we concluded that a typical client had a listing expire approximately every other year.

It is interesting to note that the average number of homes expired didn’t present a huge impact on an agent’s income. In fact, it would be safe to say that from a purely financial stand point, losing an expired doesn’t mean you are going to eat from the horse’s trough.

However, there’s something else about an expired. Something more damaging. Once your home expires, it will take a ton of time, money, and effort to repair the damage to your reputation.

Following you’ll find four key steps to help you avoid an expired home so you can earn a commission and keep your reputation in one piece.

1. CONSTANT communication

Staying in touch with the seller is the most popular method to keeping a home from expiring. According to Greg Herder, protecting your reputation from expired homes is all about setting expectations. Some agents insist it is important to express concerns and show what they’ve been doing to market the home. Furthermore, educating the seller up front as to price and condition is also important.

But stay in front of the seller with updates and feedback. Stay in contact with the seller, do not be afraid to call them, even if it’s just to say there has been no activity on their home that week. This also improves their confidence in you.

2. SCHEDULE price reductions

Here is a solid piece of advice: learn to write in the original listing that if the house doesn’t have a contract within the first 30 days then the price needs to be adjusted. Make sure you tell your sellers that a price reduction can trigger multiple offers. There might be buyers waiting in the wings for the home to hit a certain price.

Sacramento Broker Elizabeth Weitraub says that figuring price reductions requires you know when the time is right to reduce the price.

If the seller won’t reduce the price, and it is overpriced, then don’t take the listing to begin with. A key fundamental to real estate is to know the market and price accordingly. And yes, be tough with the seller on price up front.

3. TOUGH with seller on price

I think it is paramount to avoid the temptation to allow the seller to have control and set the price…but equally important is that an agent should never prostitute themselves by reducing their commission and having the notion that they can just stick a sign on the lawn and POOF, a sale.

Certainly we heard that an agent must not sweet talk the seller at every opportunity (they must exercise Howard Briton’s Tough Love scripts), so it’s apparent that everyone should start with the unblemished truth about the property, the price and the market.

And that starts with tough communication.

4. INNOVATE with technology and marketing

Jim Crawford tells us that houses sitting on the market are no surprise to other agents. They know the listing agent is asleep at the wheel. They’re missing even the basics of marketing a home.

Once you’ve got the marketing down, use innovative technology to maintain constant communication between you and your client. If you do this, your time, stress and pitfalls in the business will be cut in half, enabling you to list and sell even more.

More importantly, Michael J. Russer says you need an automated mechanism that allows you to communicate with your client the various methods that you are using to sell their home. In other words, you want them to see you working hard to sell their home.

However, if this can be accomplished without you really working any harder (in fact cutting out traditional manual tasks, like fishing for feedback from stodgy, “it’s all about me” agents or even removing the gut-wrenching difficult task of telling the seller, who doesn’t want to hear from you to begin with, that their “crusty, shag carpet has to go”) then you are in a better position.

And what would be sublime is if you could do it for free.

Any other interesting steps I’ve missed? Drop them in the comments.

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