In hot real estate markets, many properties listed for sale receive offers within hours or days of listing. When my wife and I were house hunting in 2022, we constantly watched for new listings on Zillow and scheduled tours as quickly as we could, only to see most of the homes pending a sale before sundown, with a bidder ultimately offering 10% above the asking price.
No real estate market can stay that hot forever. But even in more sedate market conditions, most listed properties sell within a month or two on average.
Still, not all properties sell successfully. And would-be sellers who have given up hope sometimes consider selling at a discount.
What Are Expired Real Estate Listings?
Listing contracts that a property owner signs with a real estate agent include expiration dates, usually three to six months out. Properties that don’t sell during that time frame and whose owners don’t renew the listing contract become expired listings and come down off the multiple listing service (MLS).
Maybe the seller is asking for an inflated price. Maybe the listing simply suffers from poor marketing. Or maybe the Scooby Doo gang hasn’t yet unmasked Old Man Jenkins scaring visitors away because it abuts an abandoned gold mine. Whatever the reason, sometimes a listed property lingers on the market for months without managing to attract a buyer.
Expired real estate listings are a potential gold mine for real estate investors. And you don’t even have to dress up like a cartoon monster and chase off any meddling kids to take advantage of them. But you do have to do a little sleuthing to find these lucrative opportunities.
The Value of Expired Listings for Investors
Finding expired real estate listings can be a lucrative strategy for real estate investors. Expired listings often indicate motivated sellers whose attempts to sell their properties through traditional channels didn’t succeed. These sellers may be more willing to negotiate on price, repairs, or financing options to facilitate a sale rather than continuing to hold their property, potentially yielding you better purchase terms and higher profit margins.
Expired listings also give real estate investors a pool of off-market properties to explore, where they face less competition from other investors and homebuyers. This exclusivity can unearth excellent investment prospects and offer you room to negotiate a good deal even in a hot market.
How to Find Expired Listings
Of course, being expired and off most buyers’ radars makes these listings a bit harder to find. So how do you find expired real estate listings in the first place?
Here are some of the best ways to find expired listings:
1. Monitor Current Listings
With a little foresight, you can spot expired listings coming before they actually expire. Search for aging listings that have remained on the market for a long time (you can filter search results by “days on market”). Record the details of the listings, including the asking price and contact information for future reference. That way, if they expire and drop off the search results, you’ll know exactly who to call and the listing price that didn’t entice other buyers on the open market.
Jot down the owner’s name and contact information, so you can call them directly and offer to buy the property without a Realtor commission taking a 6% bite out of their proceeds.
2. Access the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
The MLS itself typically maintains a record of listings even after they expire. You’ll either need to get a real estate license to access the MLS directly yourself or work with a real estate professional who has MLS access. From there you can simply set the search criteria to return expired listings.
The MLS is a private database intended for licensed real estate agents, but a local Realtor can partner with you to give you access to an online portal to search listings at your leisure.
3. Network with Real Estate Agents
Apart from leveraging their access to the MLS, having a good relationship with a trusted real estate agent can be an invaluable resource for you. Agents often have first-hand access to expired listings and can provide you with warmer potential leads.
For that matter, many agents know property owners who have considered selling but haven’t yet listed. These include “tired landlords” sick of the headaches of chasing down delinquent tenants for rent payments, going through the eviction process, and getting repair calls at 3am. You can potentially score a great off-market deal without competition from other investors.
If you don’t work with a local real estate agent already, try contacting several in your area and letting them know you’re interested in expired listings. Develop a business relationship with any of them who prove helpful—it’ll pay dividends!
4. Review Real Estate Websites
Many of the mainstream real estate websites offer methods of finding expired property listings. Realtor.com, for example, includes a search filter for expired listings.
While popular sites such as Zillow and Redfin don’t explicitly list expired listings, you can filter active listings by days on market. You can track properties that disappear from the market without selling and reach out to the owner. Look up ways to find off market properties on these and other websites for more options to find good deals.
These sites don’t maintain an exhaustive list indefinitely, but they’re a low-friction place to start your search for recently expired listings.
5. Search Public Records
It sounds old school, but you can contact the county clerk’s office or check online county records for properties with expired listings that are no longer active. These public records often contain contact information for the property owner, allowing you to reach out to begin a dialogue or make an offer.
This can prove a time-consuming process, but that same difficulty means you may uncover opportunities others miss.
6. Purchase Real Estate Market Data or Lead Lists
Some companies specialize in providing lists of expired listings for a one-time fee. Consider connecting with real estate wholesalers who specialize in finding distressed properties, including expired listings, and sell these leads, contracts, or properties to investors. You can also check out turnkey sellers like Norada Real Estate, who’s already bought these properties at a discount and resell them for a (hopefully modest) markup. These services can save you time and effort in finding expired listing leads but carry a modest upfront cost.
You can obtain a wealth of real estate market data, including foreclosure listings and expired listings, from real estate investing software solutions like Propstream and Foreclosure.com (see our full PropStream review and Foreclosure.com review for more details).
Using a premium tool like this gives you a supercharged version of an ordinary search on Zillow or the MLS, packed with all kinds of additional data not found in the public listing. Access isn’t free, but the information they provide can give you everything you need to identify and negotiate great deals from expired listings. Consider using a free trial to take premium software for a test drive before you commit.
Reaching Out to Owners of Expired Listings
Finding expired real estate listings is half the battle. The next step is to reach out to the contact list of sellers to try to close a deal.
After all the effort you’ve put into finding promising expired listings, you’ll want to make the most of each lead and maximize your chances of negotiating a successful sale.
It’s time to put on your sales and marketing cap. Rather than reaching out haphazardly, you’ll want to employ a marketing strategy thought out in advance.
The easiest way to reach out to the leads you collect from expired listings is to send direct mail marketing pieces or postcards to the homeowners. You can include your name and contact information and explain that you wish to discuss purchasing the property whose listing recently expired. If you can, follow these marketing messages up with direct phone calls and/or text messages. This is an inexpensive way to try to shake out the lowest hanging fruit—motivated sellers eager for potential buyers.
I’d recommend preparing to go one step further in your marketing efforts, however. Go the extra mile and put together a full expired listing packet you can send to the best leads you find from expired listings. Make this a robust kit of information you can send to each lead that explains who you are, what you can offer, and how working with you could benefit them.
Remember, the recipient of these packets will have recently failed to sell their property, and now you’re contacting them out of the blue. You may need to include a price range to help convince the owner to respond to your inquiry. Include glowing testimonials if you have them. You also might describe your experience in the real estate industry or with investing in homes in the same neighborhood or price range, include your assessment of the current market conditions, and explain how you evaluate and price property.
Sooner or later you’ll likely need to talk to these homeowners directly to iron out the details and arrive at a purchase price. Be prepared with a brief sales script that includes your pitch and presents your offer, and have ready responses to common objections.
FAQ About Expired Property Listings
Here are a few questions I hear all the time about expired real estate listings.
Can I find expired listings on Zillow?
Unfortunately there’s no filter on Zillow specifically for expired listings. However you can filter for days on the market, and reach out to properties that have been on the market for a long time. When those listings disappear without a sale, consider them expired listings and reach out to the owner.
What does it mean when a real estate listings says expired?
When home sellers sign an exclusive right to sell agreement with a real estate agent to list their home for sale, it comes with an expiration date. If the property fails to sell by that date, the listing expires and comes off the market. It displays as “expired” on the MLS. Homeowners can also pull the listings off the market before the expiration date if they get frustrated with the lack of movement.
What are the best ways to find expired real estate listings?
The easiest way to find expired listings is to work with a Realtor with direct acces to the MLS. But you have other options as well, outlined above.
Expired listings can offer real estate investors excellent opportunities, but they also present challenges. Apart from the above-average difficulty in finding these listings in the first place, real estate investors must be able to assess the reasons behind the property’s previous failure to sell. And successfully turning expired listings into profitable real estate deals requires the skills of a salesperson: you must be able to effectively contact, persuade, and negotiate with sellers directly.
Remember that persistence is key when looking for expired listings. Not all expired listings will result in successful deals—you’ll probably need to contact dozens of leads for every property you close. Having a clear business plan for approaching and negotiating with motivated sellers will help you maximize your chances of success.
About the Author
Jim Cirigliano has more than 15 years of experience writing original content for consumer and business publications in industries including personal finance, construction and manufacturing, nature and outdoors, and science and biotechnology. He operates Spot Check Editorial, which produces world-class content that engages readers and customers.
This article originally appeared on SparkRental and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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