Tackling Expired Listings

The Gassets embrace business that other practitioners avoid.

March 1, 2010

"The power is in the listing." Katerina Gasset, CIPS, remembers hearing that mantra over and over again from her first real estate mentor shortly after entering the business in 1983.

But as her career progressed, Gasset discovered there was even more power in expired listings. Other practitioners in her office wouldn't touch them, leaving the door wide open for her. "Expired listings were a gold mine for me then, and they still are," Gasset says.

While taking a class in Boca Raton, Fla., to earn her Certified International Property Specialist Network designation in 1998, she met her future husband Nestor Gasset, ABR®, CIPS, who shared her passion for pursuing expired listings. They worked together as a team at two different real estate brokerages before starting their own business, International Properties Investments Inc., in 2000.

Although their Wellington, Fla.–based company also focuses on selling unique properties such as estates and farms, they continue to market themselves heavily to sellers of expired listings. Their credo: "We sell listings other agents can't."

In the tough Florida market, the two have stuck to that niche, closing more than 50 expired listings in 2009. Their combined sales volume last year was just over $10 million. "Sellers call us when they're ready to listen and to try something different," Nestor says. The Gassets share these tips for approaching expired listings in your market:

Hunt through the MLS. The Gassets say January and July are the best months to find expired listings; that's when they see many listing contracts expire. On New Year's Day last year, they found over 3,500 expired listings in their area.

Be selective. Of those 3,500 listings, the Gassets targeted 420. They recommend cherry-picking the properties that you think will sell quickly, either as a short sale or through targeted marketing efforts.

Approach owners in a memorable way. "Don't cold-call or door-knock," Katerina warns. She prefers sending an attractive package that includes a company brochure, testimonials, market conditions, and a personal letter. It's all printed on fancy 25 percent cotton paper and sent in matching envelopes.

Identify why the property hasn't sold yet. Before taking on a listing, the Gassets interview their potential new clients and analyze the property on their own to prioritize what must be done.

Get creative with marketing. "Marketing is not about ads; it's about telling a story. Facts tell, stories sell," Katerina says. They start by taking hundreds of property photos—sometimes even aerial shots— and selecting about a dozen of the best to feature on the MLS. They also blog about their listings on their own Web site and Active Rain.

Katherine Tarbox is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Previously, she was editorial director for Washington Life. She is the author of the international bestselling book A Girl’s Life (Dutton, 2000) and has made hundreds of media appearances including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and CNN.