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How to find expired listings

How To Find Expired Listings: A Guide For Real Estate Investors

real estate marketing Jun 26, 2024

Incorporating expired lead listings into your investing strategy is one of the smartest moves you'll ever make for your real estate business. With most investors and professionals in the industry chasing active listings, channeling your efforts into expired listings will help you secure more lucrative deals with less competition. But what exactly are expired real estate listings, and where do you find them? Our comprehensive guide will answer these questions to teach you how to find expired listings and maximize their potential. Let’s get started with the following:

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What Are Expired Listings?

Expired listings are formerly active property listings. Usually, when a property owner engages a real estate agent to sell their home, they sign a contract granting the latter listing rights to the house within a set period, typically between three and six months. The active property listing expires if the agent fails to sell within this timeframe and the homeowner doesn't renew the contract. When the contract between the homeowner and the listing agent expires, the home’s status on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is updated from “Active” to “Expired.” That’s not to say the home is taken off the MLS, but the property is no longer actively marked on the MLS, which means it will not appear in new searches or be promoted through the MLS’s syndication to other real estate websites.

At this point, the homeowner can enlist another agent to sell the property or sell it directly to an investor. As a result, the agent’s inability to sell the home becomes an obvious opportunity for savvy real estate investors. Some investors and buyers specifically look for expired listings as potential opportunities, often reaching out directly to the sellers with new offers or purchase proposals.

The Role Of Expired Listings In The Real Estate Market

To sellers, expired listings are a significant problem. However, despite their inconveniences, expired listings serve many useful purposes in the market. That said, here's why expired listings are so important in the real estate market:

  • Opportunities For Real Estate Agents: Expired listings allow agents and Realtors to show off their selling prowess. Successfully selling them establishes them as experts in handling challenging properties and difficult sales, allowing them to attract new clients.
  • Opportunities For Investors: Expireds create a new niche of investment properties that investors can capitalize on. Plus, they attract less competition than newly listed properties, providing these investors a strategic advantage.
  • Market Insights: Listings expire for various reasons, ranging from overpricing to poor overall market health. Therefore, they reveal essential market insights that agents and investors can use to refine their strategies accordingly, ensuring successful sales in the future.
  • Barometer For Market Health: Expireds are valuable indicators of overall market health. For instance, a significant cluster of expired listings can signal broader market challenges, such as inventory oversupply, economic downturns, or localized issues that need attention. This data allows market analysts, policymakers, and key real estate players to take steps toward improving overall market conditions.

Knowing expired listings' role in the overall market is just as important as knowing how to find expired listings. Those who know how to listen to what they are saying can read the market with more accuracy and find "expired listing near me."  

Why Investors Should Target Expired Listings

From active to foreclosure, you could pursue various property listings as a real estate investor. However, targeting expired real estate listings offers unique benefits such as:

  • Motivated Sellers: Homeowners with expired listings were looking to sell in the first place, but, unfortunately, things didn't go their way. As a result, they're usually highly motivated and will willingly accept a good deal when they get one. Negotiating a favorable deal with them is thus straightforward since your interests align. At the very least, motivated sellers are one of the best expired listings leads.
  • Less Competition: While “expireds” attract a barrage of real estate agents, they usually draw fewer real estate investors. With less competition, you negotiate and close lucrative deals seamlessly, making your real estate investing career more fulfilling. Real estate expired listings can be slightly harder to find than their traditionally listed counterparts, but they are with the added nuance.
  • Lower Acquisition Costs: With fewer competing offers and a property owner who's highly motivated to sell, “expireds” create room for investors to negotiate sale prices below market value. The result? Larger profit margins and increased returns.
  • Inexpensive Lead Generation: Expired leads are usually relatively easy to find. Investors can simply wait for listings to expire on the MLS and then contact the homeowner or utilize data-based real estate software to generate expired lead lists. Additionally, unlike regular leads, these leads don't need extensive nurturing efforts as they're often ready to sell. Anyone who already knows how to find expired listings appreciates how cost-effective they are.

Read Also: 10 Best Lead-Generation Strategies For Real Estate Investors

Common Reasons Why Listings Expire

Expired listings

When learning how to find expired real estate listings, it's crucial to understand why they expire in the first place. By grasping these reasons, you can refine your marketing approach to work in your favor. For example, if a listing expires due to a stubborn seller, adjusting your marketing strategy to demonstrate patience and understanding can help you successfully close the deal. That said, below are common reasons active listings may end up in the expired section:

  • Overpricing: Many expired listings often result from overpricing. Even with property updates, setting a listing price that doesn't align with a market's fair property value scares buyers away, leading active listings to expire. Therefore, investors who secure such listings must conduct comparative market analysis and research using platforms like the Multiple Listing Service before relisting them again to ensure appropriate pricing.
  • Poor Marketing Strategies: Most active property listings are typically on the MLS and similar databases. With so many properties vying for the same buyers' attention, listing agents must do marketing work to highlight their listings. Unfortunately, some agents don't, resulting in the property not selling within the specified timeframe. So, if you secure an expired listing, put effort into making it stand out to attract buyers.
  • Ineffective Presentation: 97% of homebuyers today start their property search online, relying heavily on listing photos and videos to make decisions. Consequently, neglecting visual listing content causes prospects to overlook listings for more appealing options. Investors planning to relist such listings should prioritize professional photography and staging for effective presentation. Also, addressing necessary repairs beforehand will eliminate potential buyer turn-offs.
  • Market Conditions: General real estate market conditions significantly contribute to listings failing to sell within the expected timeframe. For example, whenever there's an oversupply of real estate inventory, some listings, especially those with inadequate marketing and ineffective presentation, often expire. Investors targeting expired listings should, therefore, research current and emerging market trends to ensure optimal timing for investment.
  • Expired Contracts: As mentioned, home sellers and agents typically get into contracts defining the property selling timeframe. Some sellers may set a shorter timeframe, causing the contract to expire before the agent can sell; this automatically results in real state expired listings.
  • Inexperienced Agents: In some cases, active property listings expire due to the listing agent's lack of experience. For instance, agents relatively new to the game may struggle to communicate effectively, ultimately failing to convert interested prospects into buyers.
  • Poor Property Condition: Buyers today have numerous options and will not settle for properties with outdated fixtures and visible wear and tear; this means properties in poor conditions tend to expire. As an investor targeting “expireds,” invest in repairs and necessary system upgrades before you relist such properties.
  • Seasonality: Real estate demand fluctuates throughout the year, with certain seasons experiencing higher activity than others. For instance, spring and early summer are typically peak home buying and selling seasons. Not only is the weather favorable for moving between homes during these times of the year, but it's also just before the new school year begins, which is ideal for home buyers and sellers with families. Not knowing about these trends leads first-time sellers and new agents to list properties during unfavorable seasons, resulting in expired listings.
  • Stubborn Sellers: Stubborn property sellers are also a big part of why listings expire. Despite advice from their agents, they may insist on pricing their property above fair market value, automatically scaring buyers away. Others refuse to negotiate or reject feedback from potential buyers regarding necessary repairs, leading prospects to lose interest. Some sellers impose rigid timelines, causing listing contracts to expire before agents can secure a sale.
  • Title & Legal Issues: Some listings expire due to unresolved title and legal issues. Therefore, it's vital for investors purchasing expired listings to conduct due diligence on title and legal issues to prevent delays in the reinvestment process.
  • Market Saturation: It's common for some listings to expire when there's an oversupply of properties for sale in their surrounding market simultaneously. Investors purchasing expired listings in such neighborhoods for resale should consider either holding onto the property until the competition eases or differentiating it through strategic marketing and competitive pricing to draw buyers.

Listings can expire often and for countless reasons. As a result, those who know how to find expired listings are constantly being rewarded with opportunities. That's why we developed this guide to teach anyone who is interested in optimizing their chances of landing a deal how to find expired listings on the MLS

Read Also: How To Find Buyers For Real Estate

Types Of Expired Listings

While often used interchangeably, withdrawn, canceled, and expired listings aren't the same. To differentiate the similar (yet different) statuses, check out their definitions:

  • Withdrawn: These listings are usually taken off the market at the seller's request. The property is temporarily removed from on-market platforms like the MLS, but the seller may relist it without creating a new listing agreement. Personal factors such as financial changes, job relocations, or emotional attachments to the property often influence this decision. Alternatively, a listing can be withdrawn at the request of the listing agent. For example, some agents may recommend withdrawal if the property has been on the market for an extended period, allowing for reassessment of marketing or pricing strategies. Ultimately, the decision to withdraw rests with the seller, and if they decline the agent's request, the latter should comply.
  • Canceled: These listings are created when the seller terminates the listing contract before it expires. Owners may terminate the contract due to unexpected personal changes or dissatisfaction with the realtor's performance. Sometimes, sellers may cancel MLS listings to explore alternative sale strategies, such as selling off-market. Regardless of the reason, canceling a listing terminates the contractual agreement between the seller and realtor.
  • Expired: An expired listing is exactly what it sounds like: a listing no longer on the market because it didn't sell within the timeframe outlined in the agreement.

With expired and canceled listings, the listing is entirely off the market, and the contract between the homeowner and agent is no longer binding or active. However, with a withdrawn listing, the property is temporarily removed from the market, but the seller can relist it with the previous agent using the original listing agreement, provided both parties agree to it.


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How To Find Expired Listings

Now that you know what they are, why they're essential, and even why they occur, here’s a list of where to find expired listings:

Utilizing The Multiple Listing Service

The Multiple Listing Service is one of the best sources for expired listings. Most on-market properties in the country are usually posted on this platform. When some expire, their details, including the agent's phone numbers and physical property details, are generally retained on the platform; this turns the MLS into one of the largest databases for expired listings.

Additionally, the listing particulars retained on the platform allow investors to skip trace owner information easily.

Even more impressive is that the MLS offers advanced search capabilities that allow investors to seamlessly unearth these listings from its vast database. Here's how to find expired MLS listings:

  • Last Change: This filter lets users narrow their search to listings that expire within a specific timeframe. For example, if you're targeting listings that expired a month ago, you can set it to 1-month. That means you can target listings that expired as recently as a day to a week to reach property owners before they relist with a new agent.
  • Status: With this filter, users can target their search based on the market status. For instance, instead of browsing all listings, you can only set the search status to "expired" to view appropriate listings.
  • Days On Market (DOM): The DOM filter allows users to focus their search based on the number of days expired listings were on the market before the contract expired. For example, you can set it to two months ago to generate expired listings that stayed on the market that long without selling; this gives you an upper hand in lead generation since you can target owners of properties with prolonged market days. They'll be more willing to negotiate and give you a better deal due to their frustration.

Since the MLS is only accessible to licensed real estate agents, collaborate with a local agent to access their MLS for expired listings. You can also sign up for our free real estate training to learn how to navigate this platform without a license.

You can also check out this video on How To Get MLS Access Without A License!

Checking Public Records

Want a no-frills source of expired lead listings? Check out public records like tax documents, foreclosure filings, estate documents, bankruptcy records, and divorce proceedings. They're usually free and accessible to all.

Furthermore, they provide detailed information on properties and their owners, allowing targeted marketing. Check out your county recorder's website or stop by their offices to access these records. Additionally, capitalize on online databases that consolidate public records from different sources.

Networking With Real Estate Agents

Realtors and agents are also an excellent resource for investors targeting expired listings. Not only do they spend most of their time immersed in real estate, but they're also well-connected. Consequently, they're often well-informed of local market trends, including which agents recently had listings expire. So, make a point to network with local agents while you are learning how to find expired listings. They'll keep tabs on newly expired listings or offer referrals.

Read Also: 11 Best Platforms For Your Real Estate Social Network In 2024

Buying Expired Listing Leads

Consider buying an expired listings list if you're a beginner investor with no leads or are a seasoned investor seeking to fill your lead pipeline quickly. Platforms like REDX offer quality lead lists at an affordable range of $50 and $200. You can filter these lists based on criteria like days on the market, duration of expiry, and location to generate highly targeted leads.

Market To Expired Listings On Social Media

Everyone is on social media nowadays, including homeowners with active and expired listings. Building a presence on these platforms will allow you to connect with potential leads.

Market yourself organically to establish an impactful social media presence. How do you do that? You can start by creating informative videos on topics like what to do after a listing expires or local market updates to engage sellers.

Also, hold live Q&A sessions to address expired listings and real estate concerns. Such content helps build trust and positions you as an expert, making property owners with expired listings more confident in approaching you.

Real Estate Investing Software

In addition to all the above steps, consider investing in real estate lead generation software and tools. They usually feature databases of property listings pulled from different sources, including the MLS and county records.

These real estate tools also offer countless filters for users to perform targeted searches. Some even allow users to stack multiple filters to generate highly targeted results. You can also build lead lists within this software or even upload your expired listings to refine and update them.

Some software offers built-in lead management tools like CRM, SMS, and email campaigns. Good examples of real estate investing software you can use for expired listing lead generation include

  • PropStream: It has a database of over 155 million properties, stackable filters, a list builder, and built-in lead management tools
  • Batchleads: Offers access to up to 150 million properties, 120+ filters, and a list builder
  • Mashvisor: Wondering how to find expired listings for free? Use Mashvisor. It has a marketplace of countrywide property listings, filters, and deal analysis tools like the Investment Analysis Calculator.

Advanced Techniques For Finding Expired Listings

how to find expired real estate listings

Pair the following advanced techniques with the above strategies to maximize your expired lead generation efforts and success:

  • Driving For Dollars
  • Setting Up Alerts for Upcoming Expirations
  • Leveraging Online Platforms Like Redfin & Realtor.com
  • Contacting Owners Of Expired Listings

Driving For Dollars

This strategy involves physically scouting your target market for homes previously advertised for sale. It requires some elbow grease but can yield impressive results. You get to engage property owners one-on-one, allowing you to build rapport and present your offer compellingly, increasing the likelihood of walking away with a deal.

Furthermore, it allows you to inspect the property's condition, neighborhood, and recent changes, facilitating an informed outreach approach. To enhance your success, consider using advanced driving for-dollars software like DealMachine.

Setting Up Alerts For Upcoming Expirations

Users can set up alerts for listings nearing expiration on the MLS. Be sure to take advantage of this feature. This proactive approach lets you get to potential leads while they're still hot and before other real estate agents can talk them into relisting.

Leveraging Online Platforms Like Redfin & Realtor.com

Real estate platforms like Redfin, Realtor.com, and Zillow are also goldmines for expired listings. The best part? You don't need a license to access them, and with their search functions and stackable filters, you can quickly generate targeted expired listing leads. Make sure to include these platforms in your lead generation strategy.

Contacting Owners Of Expired Listings

You learned how to get expired listings and have identified potential properties; now what? Contact the property owners. This step requires a well-thought-out strategy to get a response, let alone a deal. Once you have a strategy in place, here are some of the best ways to reach out:

  • Call The Owners Directly
  • Send An Expired Listing Letter
  • Execute SMS Marketing Campaigns
  • Direct Mail Campaigns

Call The Owners Directly

The easiest way to reach expired listing owners is by directly calling them. However, when a listing expires, local agents eager to relist the property tend to bombard the homeowner with phone calls, texts, and emails; this makes them skeptical about real estate-related calls. To overcome this, develop an expired listing script. It'll make your call stand out and help you build rapport with the prospect. Your cold-calling script should be brief and concise. It should:

  • Introduce who you are and why you're calling them.
  • Focus on the seller.
  • Explain why you're the best option for their expired listing.
  • Address the homeowner's pain points and potential objections.
  • Ask to schedule a meeting.

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Send An Expired Listing Letter

Another effective way to contact homeowners with expired properties is through an expired listing letter. Agents typically use it to express interest in relisting, but you'll use it to communicate your interest in purchasing the property. This method is time-consuming compared to calling or texting, but it demonstrates your commitment and stands out from the numerous calls they may have received from agents; this ultimately increases the likelihood of them responding. Here's a NAR expired listing letter template you can customize.

Execute SMS Marketing Campaigns

Short Message Services (SMSs) or text messages are great for reaching out to leads since most people always have their phones on them. When well-crafted, SMS campaigns will get your leads to respond. However, before starting an SMS marketing campaign, educate yourself on spam laws to avoid violating the lead's privacy.

Direct Mail Campaigns

Despite the popularity of advanced communication channels, direct mail remains one of the most powerful marketing strategies today. It's especially effective for reaching expired listing leads because it allows for in-depth personalization, allowing you to capture their attention the first time.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) About Expired Listings

Expired real estate listings

We promised a comprehensive investor guide on how to find expired listings. To fulfill that promise, we've also addressed frequently asked questions regarding these listings and provided detailed answers below:

Where can I find expired listings?

You can find expired listings on the MLS, various public records, including tax documents and county recorder filings, and real estate investing software databases. You can also generate leads through real estate professionals and social media marketing. Alternatively, you should consider buying them from platforms like RedX if you need to fill your pipeline urgently.

How do I follow up on an expired listing?

The most effective way to follow up on an expired listing is by sending an expired listing letter or postcard via direct mail. By sending a letter or postcard via direct mail, you'll stand out and capture the homeowner's attention, increasing the likelihood of a response.

What is an expired listing versus a withdrawn listing?

An expired listing is a property no longer on the market because it didn't sell within the specified contract period. As a result, the contract between the agent and the homeowner is no longer binding, and the homeowner can enlist a new agent or sell the property directly to an investor.

In contrast, a withdrawn listing is temporarily removed from the market at the seller's request. That means the seller can choose to relist with the same agent and use the original listing contract.

Is a canceled listing the same as an expired listing?

No, a canceled listing isn't the same as an expired one. It is a terminated listing. The seller pulls it off the market prematurely, usually for personal reasons.

However, an expired property listing is no longer on the market because the contract between the agent and homeowner expired before it could sell.

Why do most listings expire?

Most listings expire due to overpricing. Overpricing occurs when a homeowner insists on selling above market value or when an agent lists the property without performing market research to determine the current fair market value. Besides overpricing, most listings expire when sellers insist on selling when the season isn't right, such as during winter or late summer. Other common reasons listings expire include poor marketing strategies by the listing agent, ineffective presentation, market saturation, and inexperienced agents.

Final Thoughts On How To Find Expired Listings

Understanding how to find expired listings is crucial for any serious real estate investor. Expired listings present unique opportunities to acquire properties that have slipped through the cracks of the traditional market. By adding expired listings to your marketing funnel, you can tap into a valuable source of motivated sellers, often leading to lucrative deals. Whether you leverage MLS searches, online platforms, direct mail campaigns, or networking with local agents, the ability to identify and pursue expired listings can significantly enhance your investment strategy.

Now that you know what expired listings are and how to find them, it's time to take the next step. Enroll in Real Estate Skills' free training program to unlock all the investment opportunities in your market. Gain expert guidance, proven techniques, and invaluable resources to elevate your real estate investing game. Don’t wait—join now and start maximizing your investment potential!


*Disclosure: Real Estate Skills is not a law firm, and the information contained here does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before making any legal conclusions. The information presented here is educational in nature. All investments involve risks, and the past performance of an investment, industry, sector, and/or market does not guarantee future returns or results. Investors are responsible for any investment decision they make. Such decisions should be based on an evaluation of their financial situation, investment objectives, risk tolerance, and liquidity needs.


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