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6 Easy Questions to Ask an Expired Listing

July 04 2014

We're continuing RET holiday tradition by revisiting our most popular articles of the year so far. Happy Independence Day!

point2 expired 6 qsThe expired listing is one of the easiest sources of inventory for a savvy agent. Most homeowners who have experienced the marketing process without a sale may have had a bad experience or were unprepared from their initial listing experience. This makes it an easy addition to your inventory when you simply ask the right questions!

By asking smart questions up front, you invite potential sellers to help author the marketing blueprint that aligns with their expectations. This initiative can provide clear insights as to the other challenges that may have impacted the sale of the property during the first listing period.

Question #1: What, in your opinion, was the reason your home did not sell previously?

Ask the seller to share their thoughts with you regarding the previous attempt to sell their home. The answer to this question will help you to craft the marketing plan that will not only meet the seller's expectations but also go above and beyond.

Once you understand their previous challenges, you will learn their frustrations, their concerns and their gripes. From this one simple question, you will get the information you need to evaluate whether this prospect will be cooperative and willing to entertain offers, and work with you to stage the property and allow for showings. You will learn more about their motivation to accept offers.

As a smart agent, you can then be particular about the choosing only those properties that are simple to show, in presentable condition and offered by a seller that has realistically priced the property at a fair market value for the area.

Question #2: Did you entertain any offers during your listing period?

The answer to this question is pivotal to the salability of the property. If the property owner tells you they've turned down several offers, you will get the concept that they are inflexible on their idea of value or are not truly motivated to sell.

Find out what the offers were and how they were structured. With new information, you will be better equipped to present a pricing and marketing plan that positions this property to sell quickly.

Question #3: How many buyer showings did you have during the listing period and what was the feedback from your agent about those showings?

This is perhaps the most important aspect of your survey process. If the property endured more than, say, 15 showings with no offer, there may are indications that there might be a problem that can be easily reversed.

In some cases, the property might be just a tad overpriced, and agents may be showing this particular property to help sell a more reasonably priced property down the block or one that sits in a slightly lower price range.

Feedback from other agents and their customers can help redefine some seller objections and address them better. If the feedback was consistently that the home is too dated, for example, then pricing the property lower will help it sell more quickly.

If staging was the issue, then recommend areas of concern that can be easily rectified. As an example, sparkling clean windows and opened window treatments can improve properties that have previously been shown as dark and uninviting.

Stale odorsStale odors can be alleviated with a fresh cleaning and paint. Most of the obvious improvements can be done for little money and in a short period of time.

Question #4: Are you open to helping market and show the property through a better presentation of the premises?

Perhaps the property didn't sell due to worn d├ęcor or disrepair issues that can be easily rectified. Something as simple as a can of fresh paint or the removal of old furniture can change the look and feel of a place, changing its appeal to prospective buyers.

Simple recommendations like removing worn carpeting that reveals a hardwood floor underneath can do wonders for initial impressions by prospective buyers.

Question #5: What kind of marketing strategies were deployed during your previous listing period?

This is where you get to learn what the other agent did or did not do to proactively market the property. Your questions can cover the type and frequency of direct mail, public open houses, web marketing, virtual tours, e-mail, classified ads, a brochure box and other materials.

If the homeowner has had this spectrum of exposure and the property did not sell, something could be very wrong with the pricing, the ability to access the property or its condition. Most likely the other agent did the minimum by just listing the property and submitting the listing to the company to be included in their standard advertising schedule. This gives you a chance to show off your premium marketing plan and cinch getting the listing.

Question #6: What changes are you willing to make changes to sell your home?

This is where you determine how deeply the seller is committed to selling. Are they willing to clean up the place, paint, re-stage, landscape and possibly change the price to stimulate a sale? In many cases, they are at the stage where, if they do really want to sell, they are more willing to listen to guidance of a real estate professional.

You as the agent must take control and be politely clear, firm and honest with the property owner about why the property has not sold. You should clearly outlay deadlines for when the work must be completed, both on your end and the seller's end.

There are definitely more questions you can ask, but these are sure to have the homeowner wondering why they didn't call you first! Show up with a plan, execute the plan, work the feedback and have your sold sign ready.

What questions do you ask that helps you get listings?

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