When I was developing my first seminar on using appraisal as a tool for superior listings and sales, an experienced manager told me, “Never show the public expired listings. They will get those prices into their heads.” I did not agree because the opposite is true. Expired listings have power.

When I present for a listing, I do a two-part process.  First I take the potential clients through the real estate process and explain what services they need, what they do, what the market is like and how we market. There is a bit about me but I minimize that, because the awards are not that important to most clients.

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The second part is all about pricing their home to ensure a sale. In the past six years, I have had a single expired listing and that was more about the personal relationship, not the actual listing. Things sometimes happen. My goal at their table is simple; I want not just a listing but a listing that will sell.

There are three sets of data, in three separate folders when I present. The first one is Your Competition and this includes all relevant listings that are currently on the market that will be competing for the same buyer. Obviously, the more that are on the market, the more realistic our pricing must be. When there are few competing listings or sometimes none, then your pricing can be more aggressive.

My next folder is Sold or Historic. Here is the thing about a sold listing; no one can buy one. I put this to you: if you have a happy buyer right now with a deal pending, can I come along and buy their offer at the same price they just paid? What if I offered them $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 more? Maybe for the right figure they would assign their offer but few would sell it to me for what they paid. No more than I can buy a stock at the same price as yesterday, I cannot buy a sold house. Sold data is historic and reflects what was.

Which brings me to my last and always red folder with a banner printed across it, Rejected! What is an expired listing? It is a listing that was offered on the market, it was seen by the public and rejected. They did not buy it because the price was out of line with the market. Rejected or expired listings set a ceiling on valuation. One must reason, if we have three or more expired listings at a certain asking price range, then we cannot list at that range. I emphasize that powerful word, “rejected” as that is your and our seller’s future if you take an overpriced listing.

In my classes I show Realtors how to establish their hourly rate. We estimate the time that goes into preparing for a proper presentation, for attending a presentation and then the hours that one works during the listing period on that property. Most attendees in my seminars end up with figures from a low of $1,000 to $3,000. In my own case, I estimate that I invest about $2,000 per listing. Knowing what it costs is paramount to establishing not only our worth but our costs.

If a listing costs you at least $1,000 and it expires, not only have you wasted time, you may as well have burned a pile of $5 and $10 bills. Just poured kerosene on the bills and tossed in a match. That makes no sense. A sold listing gives us bragging rights. Our SOLD banner rides high on the sign post and we send out printed material promoting that sale. We celebrate and high five. But have a listing expire and we slink into the night. We failed our clients and ourselves and lost money. It does not help our confidence either.

To recap, use three folders: Competition, Historic and Rejected. Have those words printed neatly on the covers of each folder. Ensure that the Rejected is a red folder.

And finally, after I show all of the data I ask this question, which I believe I learned from Jerry Bresser training decades ago: “Mr. and Mrs. Price, based on all that I have shown you, at what price do you believe that we should market your home?”

I have never had one person answer, nor do I expect them to. I love it when they turn and look at each other and one will usually say, “This is not what we believed to be the pricing.”

Most ask then for my opinion, which I can support with pure data. Rejected is a powerful word, a powerful image and powerful to establish what ceiling of value cannot be achieved.

This topic forms part of my newest seminar, Pricing the Luxury Property to Sell.

Barry Lebow, FRI, Master-ASA, ABR, SRES, is one of Canada’s most recognized real estate authorities. Now in his 53rd year of professional real estate, Barry has been honoured by many real estate associations for his work in the profession. He has testified in more than 500 trials across North America. He is the founder of the Accredited Senior Agent designation program. A teacher, trainer and educator, he is an active broker at Re/Max Ultimate Realty in Toronto. Contact Barry by email.


  1. Best piece of real estate advice I have read in a long time from ‘thee’ recognized authority, Barry Lebow.
    Thank you Barry.

    Murray O’Brien,
    Re/Max Jazz

  2. It would be timely for Mr. Lebow to revisit his own experiences in the Great House Price Correction of the 1990s. I remember a Toronto Star article ( if I remember correctly) about his how personal experience during that period and it could be invaluable for the current crop of REALTORS who were lead to believe prices only go up.

    Maybe an Al Sinclair story of his experience back then would be a great resource in such an article.

    BTW Remember to obscure the Listing Brokerage Name on any listing you present to the public as well as the owners names. MLS rules and regs and the CREA code of ethics requires these components of an expired listing are never revealed to the public. It is one of the foundations the co-operative listing service is built upon. Never disparage the business acumen of your competitors by using MLS data.

    • MLS Rules re data exposure: Nelson, in your last paragraph, I’m not certain but I don’t think we are required to redact the listing brokerage or selling agent name if that name is our own? On another company listing…

      In other words if I were presenting SOLD comps and I had sold (brought the buyer for) your listings, I would be obligated to black out your name as listing agent and the co. name, but I could show my name as proof back-up that in fact I was involved in the sale? or I was in fact, the listing agent. Yes, for sure the owner/buyer name must be blacked out. I don’t know any agent who did that. Sometimes agents left their presentation materials with the would-be seller or buyer, and the person would show it to me. Never ever saw any information redacted.

      On the subject of presentations, I think I mentioned before at REM comments: I had large bold font upper case labels printed on pull-off back sticky paper, the size to fit perfectly on a file folder on the diagonal; the word SOLD.

      I used the labels on most of my presentation file folders, that were, casually, just “there” on the table; no need to talk about it. The folders were of course reusable. Toss them of course if they get the least bit dog-eared.

      When we used the long legal size folders, I had a few of them custom printed with the words that were on all my stationery, in italics/script:
      “Thanks for your continued support … ” vertically on the full length long edge of the file folder.

      Speaking of the subliminal effect of colour, I invested in cartons of file folders in my corporate colours: Rose and Teal. And some bright white ones for special use. Using double-sided scotch tape, I attached one of my business cards to the upper right hand corner of each file folder.

      Any paperwork copies left with the owner, they were instructed to put into these folders, so when they were ready to go to their lawyer they would have easy access to taking my coloured folders with them. Easy to identify as related to me. And they didn’t have to go looking for their paperwork. Sellers, and buyers, too, often commented on how useful this was.

      And another thing I did, during my presentation: I carried a SOLD sign rider with me, and placed it on the table under all my presentation materials. Of course the homeowner couldn’t help but see it. I didn’t say anything unless they did.

      Then I said words something to the effect: “Oh, I’m leaving that with you. Perhaps put it in the front hall closet so you can help me install it on your for sale sign when the time comes.” When I arrived, it was the first thing I took out of my briefcase or attaché. It was awkward since its size didn’t easily fit any place; get rid of it. Just place it carefully on the table and put your other files on top of it.

      Great subliminal advertising. Generated great positive thinking conversation from the owners.

      Carolyne L ?

  3. I agree that expired listings are important to determine listing price. However the reality is , that listing did not cost you $1,000. Realtor’s take any listings because the for sale sign on that lawn is their bill board or bench advertisement that costs them nothing. That sign and listing can attract other potential listings and other potential buyer’s. I did three transactions from a listing for rent because of my sign.


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