Focusing on expired listings can be a great way to acquire motivated sellers, be it for real estate investing purposes or as a realtor to get new listing contracts.

There are several ways you can go about that. One way is gathering contact information manually or from different service providers.

The issue when cold calling them can be that many others (competitors) will have the same contact information which means that those sellers may get flooded with calls.

A solution to that is to target them with Facebook Ads so you will change the push strategy over the phone to a pull strategy where only the ones interested (the warm ones) will contact you, and not vice versa.

This article will therefore show you how you can target expired listings on Facebook.

Besides that, if you read this article to the end, you will learn what you will need before you head over to the Facebook Ads Manager, and which expired listing service providers you can use to support your Facebook campaign.

What Are Expired Listings?

Although I am pretty sure you already know what expired listings are, just for the sake of making sure we are on the same page, I will discuss shortly what they are.

Let’s say you are a homeowner that signed a listing contract with a realtor.

This usually has a contract period. For the time of the listing contract, the property gets listed on the respective MLS.

In the case the property doesn’t sell during this period of time, the listing contract expires and thus also the property listing becomes an expired listing.

As a property owner, you can then either renew the contract and list it again, change to another realtor, or just say I will go for the for sale by owner route.

No matter if you stay with the realtor you used before or change to another brokerage firm, a new listing will always be created on the MLS.

What You Need Before You Head Over to the Facebook Ads Manager

Now, you just head over to the Facebook Ads Manager and create an ad by selecting the interest “expired listings” in the audience targeting section, right?

Not so fast.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the detailed targeting option in Facebook’s ad manager because you will need to select the special ad category “Housing” for all real estate related ads.


How to target expired listings on Facebook

It is a fairly new classification for ads that promote job opportunities, credit, or housing.

Why did they create this category?

Its purpose is to help their policies against discriminatory practices which aim to prevent discrimination based on age, gender, and other demographic characteristics.

According to Facebook, discrimination happened foremost in these three categories.

But even if you could use the detailed targeting you wouldn’t find “expired listings” as interest there, because of the existence of this special category.

Here, I tried to create a campaign without the special category and searched for “expired listings”, and nothing came up. 

How to target expired listings on Facebook

Before, you might have been able to do a detailed targeting of people that fit the profile of property owner whose listing expired such as for example:

  • Certain age groups by researching beforehand in which typical age groups such owners usually are
  • The gender that typically has the largest share of owners of expired listings (also based on prior research).
  • Interests in certain for sale by owner websites

I think you get the idea.

You could have profiled the ideal target group whose interests were directly or indirectly connected with owners of expired listings by enough prior research.

So, this leaves us actually with only two options to go about targeting expired listings on Facebook.

The first option would be a broad targeting (forced due to the special ads category) in a particular geographic area in combination with the perfect ad created by rigorous testing over time.

You would need to be able to do an outstanding job in creating the ad copy, and the ad creatives and at the same time getting these ads approved by Facebook without violating their policies.

To do that, you would need some great knowledge about your target group. In this context, you might want to read my article “The Facebook Marketing Strategy Guide” where I discuss this more in-depth.

The second more cost-effective option with likely less testing involved than the first one would be to let third parties do for you the detailed “targeting” which is not available on Facebook in this special category anymore.

What do I mean by that?

Well, you basically buy data from services that can provide you with the contact information of expired listings.

They don’t do Facebook detailed targeting per se, but they have already access to the contact information of owners of expired listings in certain geographic areas.

6 Expired Listing Providers That You Could Use

Why Not Just Contact the Expired Listings by Phone or Email Directly?

Now, this is a valid argument, and you could actually do just that.

Just pick up the phone and then cold call the expired listing leads you get from these providers.

Why not? You will save yourself some money by not spending additionally on a Facebook advertising campaign.

Overall, the performance of cold calling isn’t that bad at all as I already discussed in this article.

But you might want to take several points into consideration before you pick up the phone.

During my research, I found a review about Vulcan7 from an owner of an expired listing.

It wasn’t a review from a real estate professional’s perspective that may use Vulcan7 to generate leads but rather from a bothered owner that got lots of unsolicited calls.

Here is an excerpt of the review:

“Sep, 2016 – on MLS I listed my home for sale. My home telephone or private mobile numbers were never published or listed online.

Most importantly, all these phone numbers were on Do-No-Call for the last five to eight years.

Once the sale of my home was suspended from that list on MLS, on all of my numbers, I started to receive solicitation from different realtors.

They pitched about their services during those calls.

I decided to ask these realtors in order to know from where they used to operate and got my private numbers.

All of them have mentioned that they got those numbers from Vulcan 7. It was a paid-for service used by most of the realtors.”

You can read the rest of it here.

This review may or may not be true, but it gives food for thought that can be extrapolated to other service providers of expired listings.

What we can assume is that firstly, the quality of the leads may vary from provider to provider, and secondly, that lead information is not necessarily sold on an exclusive basis to real estate professionals.

So, the same owner of an expired listing may get many calls from different real estate professionals.

The other thing to consider is that you will lose the opportunity to create lookalike audiences by not importing the lead contact information in a Facebook Ad campaign for a custom audience.

A lookalike audience is an audience the Facebook Ads Manager can create with the help of its algorithm and is based on the first audience you create by importing contact information or by creating it individually with different interest targeting and more.

In our case, it would be based on the imported data to create the custom audience.

In other words, it means that this new lookalike audience would be people that know people in the first audience or people that have similar profiles, and behaviors.

Additionally, and on a side note, by importing the expired listing contact information into the Facebook Ads Manager you will also have an additional way to filter out bad contact information.

Facebook will display an error when the data is not complete or if it has errors in it by comparing the imported data with their information in the database.

This part of creating the campaign with a custom expired listing audience will become clearer in the next section.

How to Target Expired Listings on Facebook with Higher Chances of Success

With the above discussed I hope I could convince you that the more effective and efficient is to use expired listing providers to gather contact information of expired listings, and that targeting them on Facebook in contrast to contacting them directly over the phone has its merits.

So, first you would need one or more of the above providers to generate expired listing leads for you before you start with the Facebook Ads campaign.

Sure, you could get them also from the MLS, or other manual methods (e.g. courthouses, etc.), but this would be way more time-consuming unless you already have a system in place where you delegate this task.

Now, you head over to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on “Create”.

Next, you have the choice between different campaign types.

As already established in my article on real estate Facebook marketing strategies, these three are most suitable for real estate:

  • lead generation
  • traffic
  • messages

So, if you want to generate leads directly on Facebook, choose “lead generation”.

If you want to the traffic go to your website (your landing page) and convert them there, choose “traffic” and if you want to create ads within Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp maybe also in combination with a Chatbot, then choose “messages”.


How to target expired listings on Facebook
How to target expired listings on Facebook
How to target expired listings on Facebook

Now, you click on “Next” or “Continue”.

On the next screen, you can name your campaign and should activate “Special Ad Category” and choose “Housing”.

Again, without this special ad category activated, you won’t be able to run real estate ads. 

How to target expired listings on Facebook

You can leave the rest as it is and then click on “Next”.

Now, you can name your adset, select your Facebook Page, define your daily budget, and your ad scheduling.

Scrolling down, you will find the Audience area.

This is the important part where you will need the data from your expired listing services.

Here, you click on “Create New”, select “Custom Audience”, and then “Customer List”. 

How to target expired listings on Facebook
How to target expired listings on Facebook

Now, you can upload the list that you have from your service provider as a csv or text file.

So, you want to make sure that you downloaded it in this format from your providers.

You can then name your custom audience. Here, you want to use a name such as “Expired_DATE”.

Use the date in the name of when you uploaded it to Facebook so you don’t get confused should you upload another new one several weeks from then.

Next, Facebook will want to know which datasets to import.

You only want to check the boxes for emails and phone numbers.

There might be other information depending on your service provider, but these two are the most important.

Make sure to not check the boxes of the other information types such as addresses.

If they are selected, Facebook might give you an error.

It might display an error nevertheless if the data provided from your service lacks some emails or phone numbers or has some incorrect emails or phone numbers in it.

But that’s ok.

This is the filter I mentioned above that filters out some of the bad lead contact information.

Next, you can move on to create your ad or to create a lookalike audience.

By the way, to create a lookalike audience, you will need at least a dataset of 100 entries.

To get more into depth about the ad creation part, you may want to read my article “The Facebook Marketing Strategy Guide for Real Estate”.

Right below this area, you can and should also exclude certain audiences, such as real estate agents, brokers, and more.

However, do this only if you don’t want your competition to be targeted.

You can do this by job title, behavior and more.

The next thing you need to do in this section is to determine your geographic area, which I assume will be the U.S. for the most part.

You can also select the language.

Should you want to target Hispanics, you may want to use “Spanish”, although that’s not what the statistical data is suggesting about this target group.

Summing Up

Targeting expired listings on Facebook is not straightforward because of the limitations the Facebook Ads platform will give you due to its policies for real estate (Special Ad Category).

The most effective and efficient way to go about it is to already have a contact list of expired listings that you then use to create a custom audience on Facebook.

To get this list, you may want to use third-party service providers or if you have a lot of time on hand get them manually.

Based on your custom audience, you can create lookalike audiences and then reach more people that may be in a similar situation as the ones that you already target.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher

Tobias Schnellbacher