Expired, canceled, and withdrawn listings are all frustrating situations for both home sellers and the Realtors they worked with. After considerable effort, and likely also significant cost. the property failed to sell (or it went pending, fell through, but did not re-sell). What happens next?

3 Minute Video Overview


What is the difference between expired, canceled and withdrawn listings?

Let us begin by discussing the difference between canceled, expired, and withdrawn listings and how each impacts your vulnerability to being swamped with messages from real estate agents.

On the multiple listing service, these are very distinct statuses.

MLS status for listings

  1. A withdrawn listing means that the property is still listed for sale with a real estate agent or broker but is no longer listed on the multiple listing service (MLS).  It’s still a valid listing and other agents should not approach you about working with them since you are still in a contract to sell your home with your current agent.
  2. An expired listing means that the contract for your listing has come to an end and the listing is no longer in place.  Other agents may approach you since there is no valid listing in place.
  3. A canceled listing is one in which the seller and agent or broker agree to terminate the listing. Since the listing has ended, other agents are free to contact you.

In a nutshell, if your Silicon Valley home’s listing becomes either canceled or expired, real estate sales people may contact you, but if it is merely withdrawn, they are not supposed to reach out to you because you still have a valid listing in place.

My agent removed my phone number before changing the status, but agents still call. What gives?

Expired Canceled Withdrawn problem - agents keep phoning - Make-It-Stop word balloon over telephoneIf you and your agent terminate the listing on good terms, and perhaps even if that isn’t the case, he or she will likely do you the courtesy of removing your phone number to cut down on the barrage of phone calls you will get from agents “working the expireds“, as it’s called.  This helps, but many salespeople routinely download listing information from our MLS so that they have the old info in case anything helpful to them is removed – such as your phone number.

Unfortunately, if your number is ever listed, it’s likely that someone may have it and try to contact you later if your home does not sell.

Even if your phone number was never placed in the MLS, some determined Realtors may find a way of obtaining your contact information and address. For a fee, there are subscription services that will provide these.

It’s not just phone calls when your property goes off market

Many of the agents who are “working expired listings” won’t just phone you, but will mail you stuff or even drop by in person (dropping by is called a “pop by” in Realtor circles).  It is unlikely that any of them will have your email address, though, so there’s a small silver lining!

Photo of a bedroom with the name of this article in an orange box: Expired Canceled Withdrawn Listings - what happens when you take your home off the market

How long does all of this last?

Usually the worst of it is the first week or two and then it begins to taper.   Some sales people, though, only begin at 2 weeks because they want to miss the avalanche of activity (and your likely irritation at it).  Of those late bloomers, some will literally mail you or phone you only once.  Most realty professionals who regularly list previously expired listings and make that a significant portion of their business plan will attempt to reach you many, many times over a month or two, maybe longer.

Drip campaigns and off market homes

The agents who seriously focus on getting the expired or canceled listing business will most likely try to connect with you by doing all three: phoning, mailing goods (or drop them off or have them delivered) and also stop by.  Real estate trainers teach them that most prospects say “no” four or five times before they say “yes”, so for these highly determined business people, each “no” means that they should be closer to a yes.

At what point do they quit?  Perhaps after 6 – 8 attempts over a 4 – 8 week time frame.  They will have a marketing plan that includes drip mailing programs, calls and visits in the hopes that their persistence will indicate to you their overall professional determination.  (“If he’s working this hard to list my house, he’ll probably work just as hard to sell it” is the message they hope to convey.)

How can I make the calls, mail and visits from all of these real estate agents stop?

The clearest cut way to make them stop is to list your property for sale (either with your previous agent or a new one of your choosing).  Agents absolutely cannot (should not) contact you if your home is listed for sale with another broker or agent. Just as taking it off the market created an opportunity for real estate agents to try to list your home, putting it back on the market is the most straightforward way of making it stop.

Along these lines, rather than have your listing expire or be canceled, you can make the status “withdrawn” instead – leaving it listed but currently unavailable and not on the multiple listing.

How to deal with pesky agents who want my business?

  1. Other than relisting it, you can simply let all calls roll to voice mail and delete them once you know it’s an agent calling
  2. You can leave a message on your VM that you don’t want any agent contacts also.
  3. You can keep a log of everyone who contacts you, and how, and ask each one to not do it again.
  4. Do not answer your door unless you are expecting someone to visit you as some agents will “pop by”.
  5. Someone pestering you after you have asked for it to stop? Time to call the person’s manager or broker.

Most of the time, the agents who try to reached of you will be polite and well intended.  They should not call before 8 am or after 9 pm.

Best of all, it’s temporary.  They’ll stop trying within a few weeks in 99% of the cases.

We work hard and we don’t pester people

If your home did not sell and you want to hire an agent or two who are strong on selling and not pushy against you, please reach out to us. We would love to have the chance to meet with you and see your home. We won’t be in the  throngs of agents harassing you for business. That’s not how we operate.


See also:

Why didn’t my San Jose home sell?

Campbell CA Homes for Sale & Real Estate MLS Listings

What happens when inspectors disagree about the property?

Your home’s been on the market awhile, the listing is about to expire, and suddenly agents are previewing it: why?

What should you do after your listing expires? (not on this site, but I’m quoted)